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

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!


  1. 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!!!

    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

  2. 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 . . .

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

    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!

  5. 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?


    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

  6. Dianne

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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!


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