Published September 1, 2008.
A simple, old-fashioned dessert called apple pandowdy promises apple pie appeal with none of the fuss. Is it time for an apple pie makeover?
Apple pie isn’t really for everyday occasions—making a perfect filling, let alone a top and bottom crust, requires a few too many steps.
We wanted a no-frills approach to an apple pie that would convert the dish to an everyday dessert.
In our research, we were intrigued by recipes for a colonial recipe called apple pandowdy, essentially an apple pie filling baked with a top crust. During or after baking, the cook breaks the pastry and pushes it into the filling, a technique known as “dowdying.” We started by putting our favorite apple pie filling in a baking dish, then topping with pie pastry. We gave dowdying a try, but the crust quickly became soggy and bloated–our tender modern dough is too delicate. We abandoned the dowdying step and made some adjustments. Since this pie wasn’t designed to be sliced, we made the sauce especially juicy and flavorful by adding apple cider thickened with two teaspoons of cornstarch. One-third cup of maple syrup complemented the natural sweetness of the apples without being cloying and made the filling even juicier.
But now we needed an extra-crisp crust to stand up to the moist, saucy fruit. Using an oven to bake the pie was problematic—a high temperature produced a beautifully browned and crisp crust but undercooked apples, while a lower temperature resulted in cooked apples but a pale crust. The pandowdy recipe suggested the solution. Pandowdies were cooked in a heavy skillet or pot placed directly over the heat source—a procedure easily mimicked by a skillet on the stovetop. We caramelized the apples on the stovetop (adding even more flavor), topped the apples with the crust, and put the skillet in the oven.list of recipes