This pie, you guys. This pie was completely last-minute, and a perfect example of how I will do whatever it takes to complicate a holiday. This pie was unnecessary: we had desserts. Giant dark chocolate-walnut brownies (on the blog soon), pillowy chocolate chip cookies, from-scratch fudge sauce, and 5 pints of homemade Jeni’s vanilla bean ice cream – 5 pints! We were golden. We were set.
But then I wanted pie, and I wanted it badly. Enough to lie and say I needed to make this for this blog. For science. For the world.
And so this happened, because it was basically my only chance to make it and see if it actually worked. Surprisingly (and I’m being straight with you here), it wasn’t the giant production I thought it would be, mostly due to some really spectacular tips courtesy of King Arthur Flour’s blog, Flourish – aka the place I had originally come across this pie. Thanks, KAF.
Since this was never meant to be a post, I didn’t take step-by-step photos: I’m going to attempt more pies using some of these techniques, however, and when I do, I promise to include more visuals. For now, I’ll describe what went into it and include some tips on how to get this thing right.
First, a breakdown of what’s going on here:
So really you’ve got yourself a nice variety of stripes cut from the dough, a few stars to scatter, and a deep-ish pan for your pie: it’s a lot of filling, but not crazy, so build your pie in a deep dish, or make sure you use your bottom crust to full height advantage so nothing bubbles over the top. What you’ll need:
So what you see here is your basic pie situation: a double crust, preferably divided into 1/3 and 2/3 recipes (bigger for the bottom), a pizza cutter (use a sharp, thin knife if you prefer), a star-shaped cookie cutter, many berries, and standard pie filling ingredients like sugars, cornstarch, a wee bit of kosher salt, and a big lemon (or two small ones). What I forgot in the photo? The “pie dam” you’ll make from aluminum foil, but since I’m lazy, we’ll just talk about it. Take a length of foil, say a foot long, and fold it down until you have a fairly sturdy 3-inch high rectangle. Fold that in the middle, then place it into your pan: customize that foil by folding the ends to create a 90-degree Wall of China inside your empty pie crust. See the Flourish post here if that description didn’t bring it to life enough for you.
You’re well on your way to a stunning American pie. Now let’s do this.
American Pie: Do’s and Dont’s
DO: Prebake those top-crust decorations separately from the pie: KAF wants you to do it at the same time, but if i’m making this much effort to visually perfect a pie, i’m baking things off one at a time. Put your pie together while the top crust bakes off.
DON’T: Be a hero by throwing the raw crust over top all pretty and design-y and expect for it to look like this one; it won’t. Because fruit bubbles, and crust sinks, and it’s very possible that your finished flag pie will look like a total mess. I know mine would if I didn’t take the time to bake those decorations separately.
DO: Give that pie proper time to cool: I hate a pie that gushes out all over because it ruins the effect. This isn’t a cobbler, so bake it and cool it for long enough so that it’s at room temp when you slice it. Also, wait until your baked pie has calmed down a little before you decorate it: it can be warm, but it should look like it’s starting to set up.
DON’T: waste that extra dough! It’s lame to do that. when you finish cutting your decorations from the top crust, roll it back out and make a few more stars or something, throw them on the sheet pan, and bake them right along with everything else. When you slice up your pie, throw a star onto the top of each piece: the crowd will love it.
DO: Plan those stars and stripes. Be smart and really think about it so that everything comes together how you want it to. What’s going to really make this is lining up that main horizontal middle stripe right where the blueberry meats the strawberry : start at that point and work outward.
As for the recipes themselves, it was me sort of putting a few recipes together. the KAF recipe was wonderful, I’m sure, but it kept calling for a “pie enhancer” – a pre made mixture they sell online. Having none, I researched a little bit and settled on Joy the Baker’s recipe for strawberry pie (for the strawberry portion, at least) as a guideline. The blueberry portion was loosely based on what I did with the strawberries, and I used roll-and-bake pie crusts versus homemade, which wasn’t an option considering this whole 11th hour idea. Those work in a pinch, for sure, but use homemade pie crusts if you can: you’d at least be able to section the dough into 1/3 + 2/3 sections as KAF suggests. Use my recipe as a guideline, please: I really didn’t take notes, and pie shouldn’t be stressful, so use this recipe, use one you like better, pick your own crust, do what you want here: I’m just helping you through the technique. From a flavor perspective, this was a solid pie: I don’t want to undersell that at all b/c it was lovely in the very traditional, straightforward way that blueberry and strawberry pie, in my humble opinion, were meant to be. If you like something more sassy, you do your thing.
Pie design adapted from this post on Flourish, the King Arthur Flour blog, with Joy the Baker’s beautiful recipe for Strawberry Lattice Pie used as the guideline for my fruit fillings.
Miss American [Flag] Pie
Serves 8, but do everyone a favor and throw some homemade vanilla ice cream on it. Then it really serves 8.
for the crust
- 1 recipe your favorite double pie crust (if you don’t have one, this one is a solid pick), divided into 2/3 and 1/3 recipe portions*
- granulated or sanding sugar, for sprinkling
for the blueberry filling:
- 2 cups fresh blueberries
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- pinch kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
for the strawberry filling:
- 6 cups fresh strawberries, sliced (that’s net, measure after you hull and slice)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- a few fat pinches kosher salt
- 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon butter, for dotting
*you can totally do this with store-bought crusts. They don’t come in anything but half and half, obviously, but use one crust for the bottom and one crust for the top cutouts. Re-roll extra from cutouts and add it to the top of your bottom crust to give it a little extra height.
I’m going to give you instructions, but Flourish’s post is incredible in terms of step by step instructions. If you want more support or are a first-time pie maker, head over there for more details.
Not that this is an abbreviated post in any way: don’t take length to mean difficulty, however. It’s not hard: I just enjoy an explanation.
Ready your crust:
And by this I mean that you should have your crust chilled, divided, and ready to go. Roll out the larger of your two doughs into a 13-inch circle and place it inside your 9-inch (or 9.5-inch, as mine was) pan. Beautify your edges how you wish, keeping them high to hold in the filling. If you’re a pre-bake type of person, you go for it, but only until the crust is dry. If you’re not, that’s cool: I didn’t pre bake my crust for this either.
Fun Part #1:
Preheat oven to 425˚F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Draw a circle the diameter of your pie pan on a piece of parchment. Roll out the smaller dough to 1/8″ thickness and fit it inside the circle. Using a thin, sharp knife, cut out the dough in the shape of your circle. Think about how you want to want your stripes and stars to look, then begin your cutting. Using the pizza cutter (or a thin, sharp knife again), cut the middle stripe – you know, the one that will be directly below where the stars begin, and which will run horizontally across your pie. Work out from there, remembering that every other stripe you cut won’t be used (because that will be where the strawberry shows through.) Now do the stars: cut out lots of those, re-rolling the dough to make more. You may want to overlap these as I did, and they’re nice to have on hand as plate decoration when you serve this.
Transfer stars and stripes to the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar to give it a little sparkle when it’s done. Bake until golden – you’re wanting these to be approximately the same color as your finished pie will be – about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on thickness, and also depending on shape. If some things begin to get done ahead of time, pull them off the sheet and onto a cooling rack. Keep that oven at 425˚F.
Mix your fillings:
In a medium bowl, add blueberries, both sugars, cornstarch, salt, and lemon juice; toss to coat. In a large bowl, add strawberries, both sugars, cornstarch, salt, and lemon juice; toss to coat (gently this time, as strawberries are more sensitive and juicy than blueberries.) Set both bowls aside.
Fun Part #2:
Time for the pie dam! Take a section of aluminum foil, approximately 12″ in length: fold it in half and in half again, until you have a sturdy rectangular length of foil 3″ or so high. Fold it in half to form a V-shape; fit that inside your pie pan and fold the ends until it forms a 90-degree triangle which takes up 1/4 of your total area. The better way to say that is that it should be the space for the blueberries/stars.
Give the blueberries one more stir, then pour them into the smaller side of the foil dam, holding the dam steady as you pour so it doesn’t scoot around. Give the strawberries a stir and then pour those into the pie crust, using a large spoon or spatula to spread the berries against the foil dam on both sides. Remove that foil dam; admire your work. YOU TOTALLY DID THAT!
Bake on the lower-middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375˚F and continue baking until pie is all bubbly and happy, another 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to cooling rack; cool that pie until it’s warm or lukewarm and has settled into itself a little.
Fun Part #3:
Grab those stripes and stars, find that parchment circle you drew, and lay out your design on the parchment to make sure it’s the way you want it. Begin with that middle stripe I had you cut out first and work outward with your decorations, setting them on top of the pie, trimming edges as needed. Finish with stars.
Allow to cool to room temperature (because easier to cut) and serve to your super-impressed guests.