This authentic Cajun sweet dough pie recipe comes straight from the Sweet Dough Pie Capital of the World, Grand Coteau, Louisiana. Nancy Brewer, a two-time winner of the Sweet Dough Pie Festival, was sweet enough to share her recipe and the secrets to a successful pie. Nancy is a trained pastry chef and the owner of The Kitchen Shop in Grand Coteau. The town of Grand Coteau 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
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 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 milk and vanilla. Add 1⁄3 flour mixture alternately with 1⁄3 milk mixture, beating just until smooth, scraping bowl occasionally. Be careful not to overmix. The dough will be soft and sticky.
Scrape mixture onto a lightly floured surface, and work into a disk. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for two hours.
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 blackberries and sugar over medium heat. Slightly muddle blackberries, and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, simmer, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves, about five minutes.
Combine cornstarch and 3 tablespoons water in a medium bowl. Whisk cooked blackberry mixture into cornstarch mixture. Return blackberry mixture to pan, and add zest, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cook, stirring constantly until mixture boils 1 minute and thickens.
Remove from heat. Then add butter, and stir until melted. In a large bowl, add remaining 4 cups blackberries. Gently stir in cooked blackberry mixture. Set aside, and let cool to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 400°. Cut 12 (5-inch) circles from parchment paper, and set aside. Divide Cajun Sweet 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 5-inch, 1⁄8-inch-thick circle. Place each circle of dough onto a parchment piece. Gently fit dough and parchment into 5-inch pie pans. (Edges of dough will look ruffled.) Fill each pie with ¼ cup blackberry filling. Fold dough edges in toward the center of each pie.
In a small bowl, whisk together egg and remaining 2 tablespoons water. Lightly brush dough with egg wash. Sprinkle turbinado sugar equally over each. Place six pies on each baking sheet, and bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Let pies rest on baking sheet for five minutes. Transfer to wire racks, and let cool completely. Repeat process with remaining pies. See dough directions below.