Recipe Spotlight

How to Put the Dowdy in Apple Pandowdy

The not-so-new technique for a retro dessert pie.

Published Nov. 17, 2021.

There is something magical about revisiting bygone desserts. Like stumbling across an ancient wisdom encased in flaky pastry or soaked in the honeyed drippings of baked fruits, a retro recipe for bread pudding or custard trifle can have the power to transport you to simpler, sweeter, times.

As we head into the colder months, this warm nostalgia is more necessary than ever, and you can evoke it with a simple technique that creates a lustworthy layer of caramelised fruit filling perched atop a delicious pie crust: howdy, meet the dowdy.

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You may be familiar with the old-school apple pandowdy, the New England dessert that uses this technique. It’s a lot like making a regular pie, but what sets it apart is that you pull the partly-baked dessert out of the oven and disturb its just-firm crust, allowing the juices from the fruity filling to overflow and caramelize into a sweet, crispy layer when returned to the oven to fully bake.

So what exactly is dowdying?

Dowdying is less about the look of the pie as it emerges from the oven—that piecemeal crust cratered and overflowing with juicy fruit filling—and more about the crisp textures and sweet flavors it imparts the classic pandowdy. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Rather than baking the pandowdy completely, give yourself a reminder about halfway through the baking process.
  2. With the pie half-baked, remove from the oven and set down on a stable, heat-proof surface. Taking a large spoon, make a crater in the center of the pie’s crust, cracking it and allowing the fruit filling to spill over the top.
  3. Repeat this process around the edges of the pie, creating equal indentations in the crust the entire way around until you have puddles of fruit juice pooled across the surface of the pie.
  4. Return the dessert to the oven for the rest of the baking process, where the filling will caramelize and form a sticky, textured layer of sweetness.
Apple Pandowdy

It’s important to let the pandowdy bake for the first half of its allotted time, ensuring that the dough is firm enough to sink into the flooding juices without becoming soggy; maintaining its crusty texture. Of course, this technique is illustrated best in our Apple Pandowdy recipe, using a delicious all-butter pie dough and spiced apple filling: a perfect addition to your fall baking rotation.

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