Apple Pandowdy or Pan Dowdy is a North American recipe from colonial times for a simple and "rough" apple pie. Forget making a pie crust, just use a sheet of butter puff pastry for this wonderfully simple but delicious saucy apple pandowdy. If you love apple pie this is a pushy recipe Dear Reader!
The beauty of apple pandowdy is how easy it is. I always find the idea of making a pie crust something that gives me pause. I am not always up for it, especially as the end of the year hurtles towards us. I need something simple. Please. This is a ridiculously easy apple pie. The pastry is simply a sheet of butter puff pastry cut up into squares to overlap on top of apples. This ratio of apples to pastry is perfect for me. If you want more fruit you can increase the filling but pastry lovers will love this recipe as it is written. It is just enough apples but also plenty of buttery pastry.
Apple Pandowdy is a recipe that came from American colonial times. The story goes that the name pandowdy comes from the simple appearance of the pie or dowdyness of it. The term comes from the Middle English word "doude" which means "an unattractive person". Others says that the act of messing up or dowdying the appearance comes from when you press the pastry into the fruit. It is either referred to as a Pandowdy or Pan Dowdy and other fruit can be used apart from apples.
To sweeten a pandowdy, molasses or sugar were typically used although nowadays maple syrup with its extra flavour is popular over the dark, strong flavour of molasses (which will also colour your sauce darker). There are many types of pandowdy toppings from a pie crust or American biscuit topping, some even call for both a base and a top like a regular pie. You can cook this in a baking tray or a skillet. Some pan dowdy toppings can be dry and the base soupy depending on the type of pastry and recipe. This base isn't soupy thanks to the flour added to give it an apple pie filling sort of quality and nothing goes better with apples than a butter puff pastry sprinkled with raw or demerara sugar. I added spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and clove and when Laura tried some she said that it tasted just like Christmas!
I normally have lots of apples in my fruit bowl from my vege box although you can also use frozen apples which I did. Frozen apples? Yes, you can freeze apples although freezing them changes their texture so that they are no longer crisp. All you do is peel and core them and place them in a container in the freezer where they'll keep for 3 months. These are perfect for baking although I don't recommend them for fresh eating as they are noticeably softer and lack the crispness of a fresh apple.
The reason why I had so many frozen apples? I have some exciting news Dear Reader! I was invited to go on a tv show called The Cook Up with Adam Liaw. I am going to appear on two episodes: one about apples and another one about weekend bakes. I was super excited to appear and relaxed up until the point in which they texted me the day before to bring my favourite vegetable peeler along. We were going to do a peeling challenge!
Peeling to me is like sifting. I prefer not to do it. I actually like skins on my vegetables and fruit and it's where there is a lot of goodness from vitamins to fibre. I also find peeling a waste of time and a bit wasteful. My peeler is over 10 years old (I got it for my wedding kitchen tea) and blunt AF so I groaned and decided that I had to get practising on peeling. I assumed that the challenge would be to peel an apple in one long piece.
I grabbed the 8 apples I had in my fruit bowl and peeled away. I couldn't get more than two inches of the peel off the apple without it breaking. I tried different angles, different positions, nothing helped. I was a peeling failure. I don't want to give away what happened on the show itself but all I can say is that I have about a year to perfect how to peel an apple, just in time for the episode to come out next winter!
So tell me Dear Reader, are you good at peeling? Have you ever tried an apple pandowdy?
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Rated 5.0 out of 5 by 4 readers
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
- 1 sheet/185g/6.5ozs. butter puff pastry, thawed in the fridge
- 1/2 beaten egg
- 800g/28ozs. apples (around 8 apples, I used Pink Lady apples)
- Juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2/3 cup/150g/5ozs. firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup/60ml water, apple juice or apple cider
- 2 tablespoons plain all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 75g/2.6ozs. molasses
- 45ml/1.6ozs. maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons raw sugar
- Vanilla ice cream to serve
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 190C/374F. Cut the puff pastry into inch wide squares using a ruler and pizza cutter or knife. Brush with egg wash and place in the freezer for 10 minutes while you make the filling.
Step 2 - Peel and slice the apples into 1/2cm or quarter inch segments and place in a bowl with the lemon juice. Add the lemon zest, brown sugar, water (or juice or cider), flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, molasses, maple syrup and salt. Toss to cover the apple slices and then place into a tray (mine was 27x21cms/10.6x8.3inch).
Step 3 - Remove the puff pastry from the freezer and place the squares of pastry on top of the apples overlapping them. Sprinkle with the raw sugar and bake for 25-30 minutes turning around in the oven 3/4 of the way through the baking time. Serve with vanilla ice cream.