Most bakeries don’t have robust, active Instagram accounts, much less ones with influencer-level followers. But Sister Pie in Detroit is a special kind of bakery, one beloved far beyond the city limits.
Eater Young Gun Lisa Ludwinski founded Sister Pie in 2015 having already developed somewhat of a cult following for her baked goods on social media. Sister Pie pies, scones, and cookies have only grown more popular and beloved since then — on Instagram, where the team shares snaps of the beautiful baked goods and plenty of dancing videos (“We make pies & cookies & we dance” reads the bakery’s bio), and in a 2018 hit cookbook. Sister Pie: The Recipes and Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit is filled with Ludwinski’s words as well as the many faces — mostly women — who make the Detroit bakery so warm and welcoming.
And, of course, lots of delicious recipes. Among them are blueberry cornmeal scones, which Ludwinski demonstrated how to make on Instagram Live as part of the Eater @ Home virtual event series.
Blueberry Cornmeal Scones
These scones are best eaten warm with a big dollop of freshly whipped cream — kinda like a blueberry shortcake!
Makes 8 scones
1⁄2 cup heavy cream, plus more as needed
1 large egg
1 3⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
3⁄4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted European-style high-fat butter (like Plugrá), straight from the fridge
2 cups fresh blueberries (frozen works fine, too)
In a small bowl, gently whisk cream and the egg.
In a large stainless steel bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, and salt and stir to mix well. Place the butter in the bowl and coat all sides with flour. Using a bench scraper, cut the butter into 1⁄2-inch cubes. Work quickly to separate the cubes with your hands until they are all lightly coated in flour. Continue to use the bench scraper to cut the cubes into smaller pieces — the idea is that you are cutting each cube in half.
Switch to the pastry blender and begin to cut in the butter with one hand while turning the bowl with the other. It’s important to not only aim for the same spot at the bottom of the bowl with each movement, but to actually slice through butter every time. When the blender clogs up, carefully clean out it out with your fingers or a butter knife (watch out, it bites!) and use your hands to toss the ingredients a bit. Continue to blend and turn until most of the butter is incorporated but you still have quite a few larger chunks — think about the process of making pie dough, and then stop before you get to the peas and Parmesan stage.
Add the blueberries and use your hands or the bench scraper to evenly toss them throughout the butter-flour mixture. Pour the cream mixture into the dry ingredients. Use a silicone spatula to incorporate it into the flour mixture, and mix until you no longer see pools of liquid. Using the tips of your fingers (and a whole lot of pressure), turn the dough over and press it back into itself a few times. With each effort, rotate the bowl and try to scoop up as much of the dough as possible, with the intention of quickly forming it into one cohesive mass. Remember to incorporate any dry, floury bits that have congregated at the bottom of the bowl. Once the dough is fully formed, it’s time to stop!
Note: If your scone dough feels too dry, add more cream, 1 tablespoon at a time. This recipe is dependent on the moisture content of the blueberries, so we start with the liquid on the low end in anticipation of that.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, making sure to scrape every last bit from the bowl. Using extra flour as needed, pat the dough into an 8-inch circle, and use a bench scraper to cut the dough into 8 equal wedges.
You can form the scones in advance and freeze them for up to 3 months before baking. Simply place the unbaked scones on the parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for at least 1 hour. Once the scones are frozen solid, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and return to the freezer.
How to make Sugar-Sugar: This Sister Pie original ingredient is an equal-parts mix of turbinado and granulated sugars. Start by making a batch containing 1 cup of each.
1⁄4 cup heavy cream (for brushing the tops)
Sugar-Sugar (recipe in above notes)
Preheat your oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Transfer the formed scones to the baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between them. Brush the tops with heavy cream and sprinkle liberally with Sugar-Sugar.
Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 18 to 25 minutes, until the scones are evenly golden brown and nearly doubled in size. If baking from frozen, decrease the oven temperature to 400° and bake for 25 to 35 minutes. You can test for doneness by gently pressing the top of the scone - it should spring back when done. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool.
While we highly recommend eating the scones only on the day they’re baked, you can store leftovers under a pie dome for up to 2 days.
Reprinted with permission from Sister Pie: The Recipes & Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit by Lisa Ludwinski, copyright (c) 2018. Published by Lorena Jones Books, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. Images copyright (c) by E.E. Berger.
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Eater Young Gun Lisa Ludwinski ’15 (@lisalouiselud) from beloved bakery @sisterpiedetroit bakes blueberry cornmeal scones. These scones are best eaten with a big warm dollop of freshly whipped cream, similar to a blueberry shortcake. Get the recipe here: https://www.eater.com/2020/5/12/21255750/blueberry-cornmeal-scones-sister-pie-demo-lisa-ludwinski