Catahoula Sweet-Dough Pies

  • Active Time 45m
  • Total Time 1h 20m
  • Rating ****

Makes 14 individual turnovers

We first learned about these Catahoula, Louisiana, pies in Marcelle Bienvenu's "Who's your Mama, Are You Catholic, and Can You Make a Roux?", published in the Cajun city of Lafayette. The crust intrigued us, being a cross between a French 'pate sucree' and an American sugar cookie. We found Catahoula on a map, called around the area and finally located a delightful piemaster named Emma Lou Bourque, who calls herself Miss Emma Lou. She told us that sweet-dough pies, usually filled with blackberries, are a Good Friday tradition that goes back at least as far as her grandmother's day. Miss Emma Lou and other ladies of the local church bake some 350 large pies, providing a hefty slice for all their 1,700 neighbors. For herself, the spry octogenarian also makes a smaller turnover version, which we emulate here.


  • For the Sweet-Dough Crust:
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup whole milk or half-and-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • For the Filling:
  • 3 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen
  • 2-3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons whole milk or half and half
  • Turbinado sugar, preferably, or granulated sugar



Prepare the dough, first stirring together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Cream the butter, shortening and sugar together, beating until fluffy and lighter, about 5 minutes with an electric mixer at high speed. Beat in the egg, milk and vanilla, and then add about half the flour mixture, beating it in before adding the rest. Stop as needed to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Scrape the dough from the bowl and pat it out into an inch-thick disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. (The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to several days. Let it sit briefly at room temperature before proceeding.)


While the dough chills, prepare the filling. Combine in a small heavy saucepan, two cups of the blackberries with the sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until the berries have broken down and become very thick and jam-like in consistency, 15-25 minutes, depending on the juiciness of the berries. Stir in the remaining 1 cup of berries and remove from the heat. (The filling can be made up to several days ahead, covered, and refrigerated.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a generous 1/4 inch thickness. Cut the dough into squares or circles about 4 inches across. Spoon 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle of each section of dough, then fold one side of the dough over the other and pinch to make a tight seal. (A few crackles in the dough's surface are common, but if it cracks badly when forming the turnovers, reroll the dough just a bit thicker.) Crimp neatly with your fingers or with the tines of a fork. Move the pies with a dough scraper or spatula to avoid tearing the dough. Brush each turnover lightly across the top with milk, then sprinkle with sugar.

Arrange the turnovers at least 1/2 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until set and just slightly colored. Cool the turnovers on the cookie sheet for several minutes, then finish cooling them on baking racks. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Broadway Books. All rights reserved.

RecID 4181

nutrition information per serving

163 calories; 6g total fat; 25mg cholesterol; 124mg sodium; 25g carbohydrates; 2g fiber; 3g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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