Truthfully? When I saw this American flag pie sitting in the test kitchen, awaiting its critique, I thought, "I wouldn't make that in a million years."
Not because it didn't look delicious; it absolutely did.
But would you look at all that work? Not just making a pie crust, which is time-consuming enough. But cutting the stripes to the exact right length! Cutting out stars! Making two different fillings, and then positioning them in the crust EXACTLY right, in order to get the flag effect.
Yeah – when you-know-what freezes over. As I've said more than once, when they were passing out "fancy" genes, I wasn't standing in the Martha Stewart line.
But then... well, that pie just looked too darned good to pass up. Strawberry and blueberry – all in one? And heck, it's not as if the stripes have to be woven into any fancy lattice-type crust. I should be able to do this – right?
If I can do this, so can you. And, truth be told – yeah, it took awhile, but it was actually fun.
Though don't tell anyone I said that – I'll lose my charter membership in Baking Cranks Anonymous.
Are you ready? Follow me on the path to fancy.
1. Prepare your favorite double pie crust recipe.
I'm devoted to our Classic Double Pie Crust, whose combination of two fats – butter and shortening – offers the best of all worlds: flavor from the butter, structure from the shortening, and flakiness from both. For more on this, see our post Butter vs. Shortening: the Great Pie Crust Bakeoff.
2. Divide the pie dough into two pieces: one-third of the total, and two-thirds.
That's right, one piece should be twice as large as the other. If you have a scale, this is an easy task. If you don't, just eyeball it.
Why not just divide the dough in half?
Well, think about it. The bottom crust has to line the entire pie pan, and then some; the top is just for decoration. So use the larger piece for the bottom crust.
3. Roll the larger piece of pie dough into a 13" round.
You're going to use it to line a 9" pie pan that's at least 1 1/2" deep, plus make a tall crimp. This pie has a LOT of filling, so yes, you do need a pan with these dimensions.
If your pan is shallow or small, just assume you'll take any excess filling and bake it up separately. Throw a bit of streusel on top, and you've got berry crisp.
4. Make a pretty (and tall) crimp.
I mean, why not? If you're going the fancy route, you might as well go all the way.
And with all the filling you'll be piling into the crust, be sure to make that crimp just as tall and sturdy as you can.
5. Cut out the stars and stripes.
Roll the smaller piece of pie dough into a 10" x 6" rectangle about 3/8" thick. Cut the dough, lengthwise, into six 3/4"-wide, 10"-long strips; you'll have some dough left over.
Here's a neat trick: to trim the 10" strips exactly the right length, get yourself a 9" parchment round (pre-cut, or DIY). Mark off one-quarter of the round; this is the blueberry/stars area.
Fit six stripes onto the parchment, trimming them even with its curved edge; again, you'll have dough left over.
Use star cookie cutters to cut 1 1/4" stars (or the size stars of your choice) from the remaining dough. Arrange them on the parchment.
Place any remaining stars and stripes on the same sheet.
For extra sparkle and crunch, spray everything with water and sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar. Any extra stars and stripes will become yummy pie-scrap snacks.
Why not use an egg wash (egg and water, or egg white and water) – won't that help the sugar adhere better? Yes, but it'll also promote browning; and you want these stars and stripes to remain as light-colored as possible.
6. Prepare the berries.
To make the strawberry filling: Whisk together 1/2 cup Pie Filling Enhancer, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Toss with 5 to 6 cups hulled, chopped strawberries.
Note: the original recipe calls for strawberry-rhubarb filling; follow it if you wish. I just figure not all of you out there have easy access to rhubarb.
To make the blueberry filling: Whisk together 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons Pie Filling Enhancer. Toss 2 cups blueberries with the sugar mixture, then stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice.
Both of the berry mixtures will be quite dry; don't worry about it, they'll exude plenty of juice as they bake.
And what if you don't have Pie Filling Enhancer? For the strawberry filling, substitute 5 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour; and add 1/3 cup sugar. For the blueberry filling, substitute 2 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour; and increase the sugar by 4 teaspoons.
Want to know more about the various ways to thicken fruit pie fillings? Read our post, Thickening Fruit Pies, for lots of good information.
7. Spoon the berries into the crust.
First, block off a 90° wedge of the crust using a piece of folded aluminum foil. I used an adjustable pie dam; worked like a charm. I regret we no longer sell this handy tool, but I'll bet you can find it elsewhere.
Pile the blueberries into the 90° wedge; the strawberries into the remainder of the crust. You'll need to really heap the berries quite high; that's OK, they'll settle as they bake.
Once you've added the berries, remove the foil (or dam).
OK, now don't panic – I'm about to diverge from our American Flag Pie recipe. Charlotte, the test kitchen baker who developed this lovely pie, likes to add her stars and stripes to the top of the pie before baking. I like to bake the stars and stripes separately, and apply them to the fully baked pie as soon as I take it out of the oven.
What's the difference? Pastry baked atop the pie runs the risk of becoming "stained" with bubbling berry juices.
Heaven forbid! Maybe I picked up a few of those Martha genes after all.
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
8. Bake the pie on your oven's lower rack.
Why the lower rack? Baking pie in the bottom part of your oven helps insure its bottom crust will be nice and brown, rather than white and soggy.
Bake the stars and stripes on a rack above the pie. I don't show them here, as I wanted to get a picture of the pie on the bottom. But as soon as I took the shot, I slid those stars and stripes right onto the rack above the pie.
Bake the stars for about 12 to 14 minutes; the stripes for 20 to 22 minutes, until set and barely browned. You want them to be fully baked, but still be fairly light-colored.
Bake the pie for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 375°F and bake for an additional 45 to 60 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the crust nicely browned.
Do as I say, not as I did! I got busy doing other chores and left my stars and stripes in the oven too long. Hooray for the red, brown, and blue...
9. Remove the pie from the oven.
Note the overflow; this is exactly why I continually beat the drum for parchment. EASY cleanup.
10. Immediately apply the stars and stripes.
Do this carefully; the filling will be very hot. The hot filling acts as "glue," holding the decorations in place as it cools.
Speaking of cooling: as with any fruit pie, you want this to cool completely before you cut into it – unless you're OK with a soupy red-and-blue mess.
If you want warm pie, your best bet is to reheat individual slices just before serving. If you're very careful, you can do this in the microwave. Otherwise, your oven, set at 350°F will do a good job.
That wasn't so hard, was it? Trying something challenging can be fun – especially when the result is just so darned cute.
Please read, bake, and review our recipe for American Flag Pie.
Wait a minute – before you go, I've got one more tip to pass along.
Take any leftover strips of pie dough, sprinkle generously with cinnamon-sugar, bake, and enjoy...
...a fast-food lookalike – pie fries!