2000s Recipes + Menus

Old Fashioned Apple Pandowdy

  • Active time:20 min
  • Start to finish:1 3/4 hr (includes cooling)
August 2009
At first glance, a pandowdy is as homey as it gets. But the reality—tender, lightly spiced fruit interspersed with pieces of pastry, some crisp, some softened with the fruit juices—tastes much more complex and satisfying than you might imagine. This particular version, apples sweetened with molasses, is traditional and absolutely delicious, especially with a cool splash of heavy cream.

For fruit filling

  • 1/3 cup molasses (not robust or blackstrap)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 Gala or Granny Smith apples (2 to 21/2 lb), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits

For biscuit top

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup heavy cream plus additional for brushing
  • Accompaniment:

    heavy cream

Make fruit filling:

  • Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Stir together molasses, water, lemon juice, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl. Add apples and stir to coat, then stir in flour and sugar.
  • Transfer apple mixture to a 9-inch square baking pan and dot with butter. Bake, covered with foil, 25 minutes.

Make biscuit top while filling bakes:

  • Whisk together flour, baking powder, 1 tsp sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add cream and stir with a fork just until a dough forms.
  • Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 4 or 5 times to bring dough together. Pat or roll dough into an 8-inch square. Brush with a little additional cream and sprinkle with remaining 2 tsp sugar.

Finish pandowdy:

  • Cover hot fruit with dough and bake, uncovered, until biscuit is just golden, about 20 minutes. Use a spoon to break up biscuit top and mix slightly with filling, drizzling some of apples and liquid over biscuit.
  • Continue to bake until apples are tender and biscuit is golden brown in spots, 5 to 10 minutes more. Cool to warm, about 20 minutes.
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