This authentic Cajun sweet dough pie recipe comes straight from the Sweet Dough Pie Capital of the World, Grand Coteau, Louisiana. Pastry chef, Nancy Brewer, was sweet enough to share her award-winning recipe and the secrets to a successful pie. Nancy is a trained chef and the owner of The Kitchen Shop in Grand Coteau. This beautiful town is noted for its magnificent trees that form alleys, groves, and gardens, but gains equal notoriety for this sweet treat. In fact, in the month of October, the whole town celebrates this culinary confection during the Sweet Dough Pies Festival. The festival has a pie making contest and vendors selling every imaginable fruit and custard filling from fig to sweet potato.

Cajun Sweet Dough Pies

Pie Ingredients
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp. lard
¾ cup sugar
1 large egg
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
⅓ cup whole milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract

Cooking Directions for the Pies
Makes 12 small pies
Chef: Nancy Brewer

In a large bowl, beat the butter, lard, and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add egg, and beat until fluffy.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, combine the milk and vanilla. Add one-third of the flour mixture alternately with one-third of the milk mixture, beating just until smooth, scraping the bowl occasionally. Be careful not to overmix. The dough will be soft and sticky.

Scrape the mixture onto a lightly floured surface, and work into a disk. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for two hours.

Filling Ingredients
6 cups blackberries, divided
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
5 tbsp.water, divided
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
2 tbsp. butter
½ cup all-purpose flour, for rolling
1 large egg
1½ tbsp. turbinado sugar

Cooking Directions for Filling

In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups of blackberries and sugar over medium heat. Slightly muddle the blackberries, and stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce your heat to medium-low, simmer, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves. This will take about five minutes.

Combine the cornstarch and three tablespoons of water in a medium bowl. Whisk the cooked blackberry mixture into the cornstarch mixture. Return the blackberry mixture to pan, and add zest, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture boils, roughly one minute, and thickens.

Remove from heat. Next, add butter, and stir until melted. In a large bowl, add the remaining four cups of blackberries. Gently stir in the cooked blackberry mixture. Set aside, and let it cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Cut 12 (5-inch) circles from parchment paper, and set aside. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. With floured hands, roll each piece into a ball. On a heavily floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll each dough ball to a five-inch, eighth-inch-thick circle. Place each circle of dough onto a parchment piece. Gently fit dough and parchment into five-inch pie pans. The edges of dough will look ruffled. Fill each pie with one-fourth cup blackberry filling. Fold dough edges in the center toward the center of each pie.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg and remaining two tablespoons of water. Lightly brush dough with egg wash. Sprinkle turbinado sugar equally over each pie. Place six pies on each baking sheet, and bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Let the pies rest on a baking sheet for five minutes. Transfer to wire racks, and let them cool completely. Repeat this process with remaining pies.