Out of all the seasons, the autumn kitchen is my personal favorite. With the warm weather a faded memory, the heat of the oven lends a new warmth. Time slows down as the sun falls lower in the sky and the shadows grow long. Weekend mornings are easily lost among the comforting spices and rich smells. The autumn kitchen carries an ease of relaxation. With the cold air settling in around us like a heavy blanket, there is nowhere to be but in our homes, as we watch the last of the leaves change and fall from the trees.
With several pounds of apples packed away in the garage, the time was right to pull them out and put them to use. Apple desserts are one of my favorites—the sweet, bright flavor reminiscent of my Grandmother’s applesauce recipe. Over the years, apples have taken many forms in my baking, including pies, muffins, and crisps. Instead of coming up with a new use this year, I took a page out of an old book and looked towards the past.
This recipe for Apple Pandowdy dates back to the 19th century, featuring apples, both sweetened and spiced, hidden beneath a flaky pastry crust. The name pandowdy comes from the idea that the pastry is “dowdied up” over the dessert, or, in modern terms, the pastry is cut into pieces instead of being left whole which makes the appearance look “shabby” or “disheveled.”
The pandowdy is a simple, no-fuss dessert. Due to its homespun nature, it is conventionally meant to be shared by loved ones rather than to impress guests. I chose to spend time in my autumn kitchen free-handing leaves with a knife, but the true spirit of the pandowdy leans heavily toward the simple. Cutting the pastry dough into squares and throwing it over top is perfectly acceptable (and encouraged!) here. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder—the flavor will be the same no matter how you choose to pattern the pastry.
To me, the Apple Pandowdy combines the best aspects of both crisps and pies, with a heap of bright fruit and a thin layer of flaky pastry to make it feel special.
The Apple Pandowdy is an old fashioned autumn dessert that is generous on flavor and texture. Thinly sliced apples are combined with warm spices and brown sugar for sweetness. Pie dough is “dowdied up” over the apples and sprinkled with raw sugar before baking to add additional texture. When golden and bubbly, the pandowdy is ready to come out of the oven. Serve warm with a drizzle of caramel or vanilla ice cream, or serve cold with fork straight from the refrigerator (which is especially delightful during breakfast).
One Year Ago: Maple Glazed Pumpkin Scones
Two Years Ago: Pumpkin Espresso Bundt Cake
Three Years Ago: Pumpkin Molasses Bread, Vegan Caramel, & Rustic Apple Tart
Four Years Ago: Classic Apple Pie, Butternut Squash Biscuits, & Apple Crisp
Five Years Ago: Apple Cinnamon Scones, Pear Crisp, Pumpkin Rolls, Butternut Squash Cake, & Baked Apples
Six Years Ago: Oatmeal Raisin Crisps, Red Wine Chocolate Cake, Pear Spice Cake, Pumpkin Latte Cheesecake, & Apple Cake
Seven Years Ago: Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes, Butternut Squash Custard, Pumpkin Bread Pudding, & Apple Almond Tart
Yields 8-10 servings
3 lbs (1.4 kg) apples, peeled, cored, & thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon boiled cider (optional)
Single Pie Crust Recipe, chilled
Egg wash (1 large egg + 1 tablespoon water, whisked)
1 tablespoons raw or demerara sugar
In a medium bowl, coat the apple slices with lemon juice to prevent browning. Add the brown sugar, flour, spices, salt and boiled cider and toss over the apples until they are evenly coated. Place into 9-inch pie pan.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the single pie dough round until 1/8-inch thick. To create a patterned top, use cookie cutters to cut out shapes, use a knife to cut dough into squares, or freehand a unique design out of the dough. Place the dough pieces over evenly over the top of the apples.
Brush the exposed dough with egg wash and sprinkle evenly with raw sugar. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to chill.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the apples are bubbling. If the edges begin to darken too quickly, cover the pastry with aluminum foil to prevent additional browning.
Cool the pie for at least 3 hours before slicing to allow the juices to set. Drizzle each slice with 1-2 tablespoons of warm caramel sauce before serving or serve with a side of vanilla ice cream.
*To create a vegan version of the pie, use a dairy-free margarine for the butter in the crust (I prefer Earth Balance Vegan Butter), and drizzle each slice with vegan caramel sauce.