Flag Cobbler: born for the 4th of July

Let me say right up front: This flag cobbler is a PERFECT example of you, our King Arthur readers, inspiring me to heights I never dreamed I’d scale.

American Flag Pie via @kingarthurflour

Last year at this time I made a flag-themed pie: “white” pastry stars and stripes over a background of blue(berries) and red strawberries. It was pretty darned stunning, especially for me: the self-professed lacker of the Martha Stewart gene, an otherwise capable baker who won’t decorate a cookie, can’t pipe icing, and would rather eat buckwheat groats than weave a lattice crust.

As a result of that post, reader marykayrose7 offered this: “I LOVE this PJ! I’m so happy I found it when I googled it. I’m going to try making it a cherry/blueberry cobbler for the 4th of July. I think the rectangular shape will make it look even more like a flag… Hope it turns out as pretty as yours. Thanks for posting.”

A rectangular flag cobbler instead of a round flag pie? Genius!

It wasn’t much of a “leap of creativity” to turn this round pie into a truly flag-shaped rectangular cobbler. But it was indeed a math challenge – beginning with the pastry crust.

How much crust would I need to line the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ pan, then cut six stripes and lots of little stars?

To Mr. McLeod, my 9th grade geometry teacher: wherever you are, thank you. Who knew all that pi-r-squared stuff would eventually come in handy? It took a calculator plus paper and pencil, but eventually I came up with the serendipitous answer: One double pie crust recipe is enough to make a 9″ x 13″ bottom crust, plus stars, plus stripes.

Want to do just the stars and stripes, and the heck with the bottom crust? Prepare a single pie crust recipe.

So, fast forward: you’ve made your crust, it’s chilled, and you’re ready to roll.

Divide the crust in half.

Flag cobbler via @kingarthurflour

When I’m rolling out a rectangle, I find it helps to start with the crust already shaped into a rectangle.

Flag cobbler via @kingarthurflour

Roll it to a generous 9″ x 13″ rectangle. Don’t worry about any ragged edges; they won’t show.

Flag cobbler via @kingarthurflour

Place the crust in a 9″ x 13″ pan, and prick it all over with a fork. This will help keep it from puffing up too precipitously as it bakes.

But, won’t the berries hold it down? Not initially: we’re going to prebake the crust before adding the berries, then baking again.

Why? Because juicy berry pies tend to create soggy bottom crusts, and one good solution is to prebake the crust – which should keep it relatively crisp despite the bubbling berry juices it’ll encounter later on.

Next: the stars and stripes.

Flag cobbler via @kingarthurflour

Roll the remaining piece of dough into a rough 6″ x 13″ rectangle. If you’re struggling with ragged edges, just make sure you have a swath in the center that’s at least 13″ long; it’s more important to get the dough 13″ long than exactly 6″ wide.

Cut a six or seven 3/4″-wide x 13″-long strips; these will be your flag’s white stripes. (Cutting seven stripes instead of six gives you a back up, should one break.)

Use a star cookie cutter to cut small stars from the remainder of the dough.

Hey! You’re not supposed to cut on a silicone rolling mat, right?

Do as I say, not as I do. I actually cut on mine – very, very carefully – using a plastic-blade rolling pizza wheel.

Flag cobbler via @kingarthurflour

Use a star cookie cutter to cut small stars from the remainder of the dough. I used a 1 1/4″ cutter, and got 28 stars.

I didn’t bother re-rolling the dough scraps. Instead, I just did what Mom always did: spread them on a pan, sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar, and bake until brown and crisp. Baker’s treat!

Flag cobbler via @kingarthurflour

Place the stars and stripes on a baking sheet. Parchment makes everything easy to move around afterwards.

Flag cobbler via @kingarthurflour

For sparkle and crunch, brush or spray the stars and stripes with water, and sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 425°F.

When the oven’s come up to temperature, place the pan of stars and stripes on a lower rack, the bottom crust in its 13″ x 9″ pan on a middle or upper-middle rack.

Flag cobbler via @kingarthurflour

Bake the stars for about 15 minutes; remove them from the pan with a spatula.

Continue to bake the stripes for several more minutes (about 18 minutes total), until they’re set and barely browned. You want the stripes to be fully baked, but still fairly light-colored.

Flag cobbler via @kingarthurflour

Bake the bottom crust until it’s a light golden brown, about 30 minutes. Check it several times; if it’s puffing up, deflate it with a fork or the sharp tip of a knife.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.

Phew – the tough part’s over! Now on to the filling.

Let’s get that calculator out again. If the area of a 9″ circle is about 64″ (trust me on this, it is), and the area of a 9″ x 13″ pan is 117″, and the pie pan is 1 1/2″ deep while the 9″ x 13″ pan is 2″ deep, then I should make… um… how about twice as much filling?

The flag pie calls for 3 cups of strawberries and 2 cups of blueberries – a total of 5 cups of fruit.

I think I’ll go with 10 cups of berries: 8 cups of strawberries (2 quarts) and 2 cups of blueberries (1 pint): not because it’s an exact solution, mathematically speaking, but because it’s simple to buy 2 quarts of strawberries and a pint of blueberries.

Let’s see what happens.

Flag cobbler via @kingarthurflour

Look at these magnificent strawberries, would you? It’s the height of strawberry season here in New England, and we’re enjoying it. I bought these 2 quarts of berries at my local farm stand. For those of you buying at the supermarket, that translates to 2 1/2 pounds.

Flag cobbler via @kingarthurflour

Wash and hull the berries, and cut them in half (or quarters, if extra-large) – you should get about 7 1/2 cups to 8 cups of berries.

Flag cobbler via @kingarthurflour

Toss the berries with 1/8 teaspoon salt, a tablespoon of lemon juice, 1/2 cup sugar, and 2/3 to 3/4 cup Pie Filling Enhancer, to thicken. The greater amount of thickener will give you stiff filling, one that doesn’t ooze when you cut the cobbler; the lesser amount, softer filling.

No Pie Filling Enhancer? Substitute 1/4 cup Instant ClearJel (mixed with the sugar in the recipe); or 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour.

You’ll also need a pint of blueberries. Wash the berries, and mix them with 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons Pie Filling Enhancer, and 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice.

Or use 2 teaspoons Instant ClearJel (mixed with the sugar); or 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour in place of the Pie Filling Enhancer.

Flag cobbler via @kingarthurflour

Spoon the strawberries onto the crust, using about 3/4 of the pan and leaving a rectangular space in the top left for the blueberries. Spoon the blueberries into the bare space.

Flag cobbler via @kingarthurflour

Bake the cobbler for 60 to 75 minutes, or until the fruit is bubbly. Gently mash and stir the berries after an hour, if they don’t seem to be breaking down sufficiently.

Remove the cobbler from the oven.

Now for the final assembly –

Flag cobbler via @kingarthurflour

As much as I thought I knew what our flag looks like, I couldn’t picture the exact order of the stripes. If you’re like me and need help, grab yourself a visual to refer to as you lay the stripes, then the stars, atop the fruit.

Space three of the stripes over the bottom half of the filling. Space the other three over the top half, trimming them to end at the blueberries.

Finally, array as many stars as possible over the blueberries. Don’t try to put them in straight lines (unless you do indeed have that Martha Stewart gene).

Flag cobbler via @kingarthurflour

Well, if this doesn’t just make you want to break into a chorus of “The Stars and Stripes Forever!” And it’s really tasty – the bottom crust is crisp, the berries are (of course) delicious, and all in all I’d say this flag cobbler is a flag-waving success.

Except – a little bit of math I ignored came back to haunt me. The pie pan is 1/2″ shallower than the 9″ x 13″ pan, plus the pie pan slopes and the rectangular pan doesn’t. The result: The cobbler reaches only 1 1/4″ high (including the stars and stripes) in this 2″-deep pan, making it seem a tad scanty.

Could you use more berries? Absolutely. You’ll need to calculate how much to increase the berries, sugar, thickener, and lemon juice (X percent) to yield a cobbler that’s maybe 1/2″ taller, which would leave sufficient depth for the stars and stripes, plus a bit of wiggle room for berry bubble-over.

Let me know when you figure it out, OK?

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Fourth of July Flag Cobbler.

Print just the recipe.

Note: Since writing this blog post, we’ve decided that pre-cooking the filling, then spooning it into the pan and topping with the baked stars and stripes is easier and more effective than baking the filling in the pan. You can still choose to bake the filling as shown above, but for directions on pre-cooking the filling, see the recipe.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Paul from Ohio

    Awesomeness PJ! Thanks for working out the math and posting this now. I have important company coming early in July and had wondered what to offer for dessert……now I know! Looks spectacular and I’m sure is even more fantastic tasting!

    Reply
  2. Carol

    The title of this blog post made me smile-very cute and cleverly worded. The recepe on today’s blog made me hungry. I want you to know that I love reading your blog posts. They inspire me to try new recipes. Thank you for the time and thought you put into everything that you do. I appreciate your hard work.

    Reply
  3. Dianne

    Awesome idea and much more modern than the a regular cake. Cannot wait to make this!
    Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  4. Bernadette

    This looks delicious, but what makes this a cobbler? It has pie crust on top and bottom. Is a pie a cobbler, is a cobbler a pie, or am I just way off base altogether?

    Help!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Bernadette, you’re correct that a traditional cobbler does not have a bottom crust. Since this is only a partial crust (no sides), perhaps it’s a hybrid? Maybe we should call it a Pibbler? In any case, it’s mighty tasty and will certainly be a hit at your Fourth of July celebration! Barb@KAF

  5. Sue

    PJ, this looks beautiful, and I love the idea. But I hate pie crust! (I know, I know.) I make cobblers with biscuit crusts, but I’m thinking the biscuit will have too much puff and not enough definition here. I’m thinking something like a sugar cookie or French-style pate a sucre crust here, with the same method (though maybe backing off on the sugar in the filling just a bit), might work. Thoughts? Any other suggestions? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sue, you could certainly use a different crust for the base. I would pre-bake the crust and decorations, using the baking instructions for the crust or cookie recipe of your choice, and then proceed as recommended in this recipe. Barb@KAF

    2. Angel

      You could omit the bottom crust and then roll out puff pastry very thin for the top decorations.

      I’ve used that method for traditional cobblers for folks that don’t like traditional cobbler toppings and they were a hit.

      Just my 2 cents.

    3. PJ Hamel, post author

      Thanks, Angel – your 2¢ is worth a lot more than that! We appreciate you connecting. PJH

    4. Karen Lane

      I hate making pie crust too! Sometimes it happens to us bakers. Just want you to know that you’re not alone out there!

  6. OcalaBarbara

    My mother always made a peach cobbler, as she called it, therefore so do I, which has a bottom, and sides which roll over the top, so it may be more of a galette in a pan, but I suppose it really is a deep dish pie! It matters not; it is delicious. I know this will be as well, even though I have to make all such fillings with Splenda and Clear Jel for my diabetic husband. I think this must become part of our 50th summer together, celebrating our country’s birthday and our love of good food, the good people who guide us along the way, and remind us that we live among the greatest people on earth. Thank you, PJ.

    Reply
  7. Celeste

    PJ – wonderful post. When I know I need to cut on my silicone mat, I place parchment on the mat, first. In fact, I use it whenever I’ll have to move the dough after rolling – pie crusts, filled pizzas . . .

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Diana, I would recommend doubling the amount of fruit called for if you don’t add a bottom crust. Also, it would be best to either use a ceramic or glass pan, or line the bottom of the metal man with sprayed parchment to prevent the acidity of the fruits from damaging the finish on your metal baking pan. Store any leftovers in a separate container. Barb@KAF

  8. Nancy Holdaway

    This looks like a great idea. I don’t like pie crust either. I think maybe the sugar cookie idea that Sue suggested. Also I am thinking I could use cherries which are on right now and use them in place of the strawberries. I have frozen blackberries and blueberries so I could use them. Thanks for sharing your ideas!!!

    Reply
  9. Dianne

    I have a big crowd and would like to make it on a sheet plan. I can make 3 crust recipes but being thinner, will the same amount of filling work? Thx

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Diane, I’m not sure what size sheet tray you’re planning to use, but you’ll probably need to almost double the amount of fruit filling if using a 13 X 18 inch sheet tray. PJ said the filling and top crust measured about 1 1/4 inches high in her pan, so if your sheet tray is one inch high, but also fans out a bit, double the amount of filling should work nicely. You may want to place a pan under the cobbler, just in case the filling bubbles out a bit when it boils. Barb@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Dianne, your pan is about twice the size of PJ’s, so I would double the filling and double the amount of crust called for in the 9 X 13 pan (so 2 batches of our double pie dough recipe if you’re making the bottom and the stars and strips). Your shallower pan should work nicely with double the amount of filling, but you may want to place something under it in case the filling bubbles out a bit when it boils. Barb@KAF

  10. Belinda

    I live in a place where I cannot get these fruits fresh, only frozen. Any suggestions to make this work with frozen fruit? Thanks.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Belinda, the secret to baking with frozen berries is to let them thaw first, and then (gently) pat them dry with a paper towel to help the juices from bleeding. And you may need to increase the thickener a bit, since they generally tend to be juicier, despite the patting down. Bryanna@KAF

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Linda, the social media tab is on the left hand side of the page; perhaps you need to widen your window a bit? The red Pinterest link is right at the top of the tab. Hope this helps – PJH

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      That would work fine, Suzy. I think I’d prebake it, tough, like I did the pie crust, so it doesn’t potentially become submerged and/or turn blue or red from the juices. Good luck – PJH

  11. Pamela Peyton

    While not a professional baker myself, I am an avid home baker…inspired by my Dad whose family was in the business in New York and Long Island since the 1940’s! He loved to bake at home with me and his grandchildren, and fruit tarts were always a favorite. For the 4th of July, it was a chance to make Dad’s “Red, White and Blue” home made ice cream. And cobbler! I thought of him when I saw this recipe in my Sunday Roundup email…he would have LOVED this! And I will be making it with my grandkids on baking Friday! Thanks!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Pamela, “baking Friday” – love that you’ve designated the day for your grandkids. Thanks for passing along your knowledge and “kitchen love” – I’m sure they’ll remember these times with you. Hope everyone enjoys a tasty Fourth! PJH

  12. Sandra Hayslett

    I love cherry pie. We go to a local orchard in June to buy fresh cherries for pie. I’m going to switch out the strawberries with delicious fresh sour cherries. I’ll have to tweet the sugar and thickening agent somewhat, but expect a delicious and beautiful product . Thanks for the idea PJ.

    Reply
  13. Janet

    I have fresh pie cherries that I’d like to substitute for the strawberries. How should I change the sugar and thickener? Thanks.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Janet, check out our handy Pie Thickener Chart to determine how much thickener you will need for your fresh cherries. Note that the amounts given in the chart are per cup of fruit. Barb@KAF

  14. Janet

    Also, can I make this the day before without it’s becoming mushy or otherwise subpar? If not, can I make the crust and decorative pieces the day before, and then bake the “piebrid” the day of the party? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Janet, the crust may soften a bit by the next day, as all fruit pies do, but I think it would be fine. If you’re concerned you could certainly bake the crust and decorations the day before and assemble and bake the flag cobbler the day of the party. Barb@KAF

  15. Dianne

    I have found that frozen berries work best for blueberry pie. Mix sugar, cinnamon and tapioca together and pour it over the frozen berries and let it sit a few minutes. Pour it Into the bottom crust, dot with butter, top with crust and bake. It comes out juicy, but not runny. Of course blueberries are frozen clean and whole so they are not funny to start with, but this method makes filling that is the perfect consistency.

    Reply
  16. Monica

    I made the flag pie last year and was eager to try the cobbler since I have a group to entertain for this year. A few comments or corrections:
    -some 9″ x 13″ pans do have sloped sides so no need to change the quantity
    -baking times for the crust, stars and stripes much too long, for my oven at least, stars took about 5 minutes, stripes about 9 and crust about 15. Glad I checked or they all would have been over done
    -baking directions vary from the recipe (which is 30 min at 425, then 45 or 60 min at 375). I got a little confused going between the recipe and blog, blog is 60 to 75 minutes with no change in temp. I think mine might be a bit over done, but we’ll see tomorrow.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Monica, thanks for reporting back on your experiences baking this recipe! Barb@KAF

  17. Scarlett in FLA

    I’m smiling at the discussion as to whether this is a pie or a cobbler…..move out of the way…it looks delicious and I have to make it for Monday (4th of July!) Thank you so much for the detailed instructions…looks perfect!
    Scarlett in FLA

    Reply
  18. Paula

    Well, just finished making it! A lot of fun and it turned out quite beautiful. I love pie crust and the name is perfect! Thanks to PJ for all her work and details in the recipe. I didn’t want to wait until tomorrow to try it so I made a mini one with the leftover pie scraps and added in some extra fruit. OMG–delicious!

    Mine cooked for about an hour

    Reply
  19. Dawn

    The printed directions have different cooking temps than the online directions. I almost burned the whole thing! Thankfully it was great.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You are correct, Dawn. Different temps and slightly different cooking times. I will check in with PJ. Thank you! Elisabeth@KAF

  20. Barbara Sterling

    RE:” I didn’t bother re-rolling the dough scraps. Instead, I just did what Mom always did: spread them on a pan, sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar, and bake until brown and crisp. Baker’s treat!”

    Best part of a pie for me (sometimes). My Mom didn’t have a name for them but a friend’s Mom called them Dog Biscuits! Although the kids were the ones eating them.

    Reply
  21. Peter Van Erp

    This looks like the perfect thing to bring to a friends at America’s oldest 4th of July parade in Bristol, RI. I have glass rectangular pans. How would that affect time or oven temperature? I generally use corn starch to thicken up fruits in pies, so I assume I can use that instead of the ClearJel or flour.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Good question, Peter. Darker-colored metal pie pans tend to become hotter, and transfer heat better, than stoneware, ceramic, or glass pans, and therefore brown crust more quickly. To account for this, we often find that it helps to reduce the heat by 25° when baking in glass, in order to provide for the slightly longer bake needed to achieve the same browning without over-cooking the interior and/or top . As you mention, corn starch can also be used as a thickener here — you can either use the ratios that have worked for you in the past, or consult our Pie Thickener Ingredient Guide for help. Happy baking and happy 4th! Mollie@KAF

  22. Alice

    I’m glad you changed the recipe to say the cobbler should be refrigerated. After I lost nearly $10 worth of fresh strawberries, I realized you had erred in saying to keep the cobbler at room temperature. I was really disappointed in your instructions.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Alice, we’re genuinely sorry to hear that your cobbler spoiled before you were able to enjoy it. We take comments like yours seriously, so we updated the storage instructions to call for keeping it in the fridge to help extend the shelf life. We hope you accept our sincere apology and know that you’ve helped improve the baking experience of others. Kindly, Kye@KAF

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