Old-Fashioned Apple Pandowdy *

An old-fashioned favorite, the pandowdy is, by definition, a cooked fruit dessert sweetened with maple syrup or molasses and topped with a pie pastry. The name refers to the act of “dowdying” the crust — that is, breaking it up with a knife and pressing it into the bubbling juices — midway through baking. While it’s not the prettiest of pastries, what it lacks in streamlined good looks it more than makes up for in rich flavor. This apple pandowdy recipe from the award-winning The Apple Lover’s Cookbook by Amy Traverso (W.W. Norton) is a keeper.

Note: The filling for a dowdy should be wetter at the outset than that of a pie or a crisp. As the crust bakes, partially submerged in the filling, it has a thickening effect.

Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Hands-On Time: 1 hour
Yield: 6 servings


For the Crust


  • 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 9 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons ice water


First, make the crust: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt until well combined. Sprinkle the butter cubes on top and use your fingers to work them in (you want to rub your thumb against your fingertips, smearing the butter as you do). Do this until the mixture looks like cornmeal with some pea-sized bits remaining. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons ice water on top and stir with a fork until the dough begins to come together. If needed, add another tablespoon ice water (you shouldn’t need much more). Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead three times. Gather the dough into a ball, then press into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

For the Filling


  • 8 large firm-tart apples (about 4 pounds) such as Granny Smith or Northern Spy, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar for sprinkling


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and set a rack to the middle position. Arrange the apples in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet with sides at least 2 inches high. Sprinkle with the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. In a small bowl, stir the maple syrup with 1/2 cup water and pour over the apples.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled dough out into a rectangle about 9 inches wide, 11 inches long, and 1/4 inch thick. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut into squares roughly 3 inches across. Arrange the squares over the apples, making a concentric pattern, then sprinkle with sugar. Bake the pandowdy until juices are bubbling and the pastry is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and use a spatula to gently press the pastry down into the juices so it’s mostly (about 80% submerged) Return the pan to the oven bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the pastry is nicely glazed and the sauce has thickened.

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