Apple pandowdy is like a very casual apple pie. It's a simple, old fashioned dessert that will have you smiling over every sweet bite. Pandowdy (pan dowdy) is perfect for those of us that have trouble with pie crust - there's no bottom crust and the top is made up of squares of pastry.
Ingredients for this recipe: flour, butter, sugar, baking powder, kosher salt, apples, bourbon, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, chipotle powder-optional, heavy cream
What Is Apple Pandowdy?
What is a pandowdy you ask?
Well, some would say that it's a dessert born in Colonial America, made of apples and dough but I say it's a godsend for those who can't get a pie crust onto a pie without it falling apart.
There is no bottom crust and the top crust is cut up pie dough or biscuit dough.
Apple Pandowdy is something like a pie, something like a cobbler, and totally unlike anything you've ever eaten.
How to Make Apple Pandowdy
For my recipe a thick layer of tender apples is simmered in a bourbon and cinnamon spiked sugar syrup with a little chipotle to kick up the heat.
Then strips of buttery pastry are dropped on top and the whole thing is baked.
Partway through the baking time you push the pastry down into the apples so that it soaks up all of that sweet and spicy sauce. Served warm with cinnamon ice cream it is everything you want on a crisp fall day - or on a 90 degree Texas day when you wish it was a crisp fall day!
This recipe uses a tweaked pie dough that bakes crisp, buttery, and crumbly. It's made in an iron skillet where the apples are simmered in a rich, flavorful sauce before the pastry is put on and the whole thing is baked.
When it comes out of the oven the crispy pastry is swathed in the thick, spicy sauce so every bite is crumbly-crispy and tender-sweet. The tiny bit of chipotle I add sort of kicks you at the end of the bite just to let you know it's in there.
It is not a beautiful dessert but it is a comfortable one. While Anne Shirley would have certainly eaten it Jay Gatsby never would have. Bourbon Apple Pandowdy, served warm with a scoop of ice cream melting into the syrup is comfort food in the strictest sense of the word.
Here are the questions I am most frequently asked about this recipe.
What's the Origin of Apple Pandowdy?
Pandowdies were well known in Colonial America. According to an 1849 cookbook the dish was known as a pandowdy in the north and a brown betty in the south.
It evolved, like so many dishes, from recipes that were handed down through the centuries and no one really knows where it began.
What does pandowdy (or pan dowdy) mean?
We think it got the name because the top crust is cut up or "dowdied".
What are the best apples for apple pandowdy?
Using a combination of apples will give you the most flavor. Choose a mixture from the following:
- Granny Smith
- Regional Heirloom varieties
Find more information about the different flavors of apple varieties in this article from the University of Illinois
More Apple Recipes You'll Love!
I love a good apple dessert in the fall! Here are some of my favorites here on Restless Chipotle.
- Irish Apple Cake with Whiskey Brown Butter Sauce is an imagination inspiring addition to your table whether as dessert after dinner or a mid-afternoon pick me up. One bite and you’ll be imagining faded chintz sofas, crackling fires, and steaming cups of good Irish tea.
- Apple Spice Bundt Cake is the best apple cake recipe ever! Chunks of tangy apples are stirred into a spice cake batter along with buttery pecans and a generous amount of whiskey - your house will smell luscious!
- Apple Fritter Bread is full of all of the apple and cinnamon goodness of apple fritters in the form of a quick bread thats a delicious addition to an autumn brunch!
- Candy Apple Pie tastes just like an old-fashioned candy apple! Spicy, sweet, cinnamon syrup bathes tangy Granny Smith apples to create an unforgettable dessert everyone loves.
- Cinnamon Apples are as gorgeous as they are delicious! Tangy apples are simmered in cinnamon syrup until they are infused with crimson color and spicy cinnamon flavor.
- Grandma's Dutch Apple Pie always comes out just right with a lavish layer of crumble over tender autumn spiced apples. This is a classic!
You'll Need a Cast Iron Skillet
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A cast iron skillet is an absolute necessity. Yes, you will see apple pandowdy made in ceramic pie pans and casserole dishes but people do all kinds of crazy things.
I promise you a skillet is the thing to make this in. It gives the filling a different flavor and it just bakes differently. I can't explain it. I just know it's true.
If you must make it in a casserole dish then cook the filling on the stove as directed and then turn it into a casserole dish to put the pastry on... but that is only in emergencies. Trust me. The skillet I used is a 15 inch cast iron skillet by Lodge.
Bourbon Apple Pandowdy Recipe
Don't wait to try this recipe! It's especially good if you have an orchard nearby where you can pick your own apples. There's something about the fresh, snappy flavors that give this apple dessert a little extra oomph.
If you love this recipe please give it 5 stars!
Bourbon Apple PandowdyPrint Add to Collection Go to Collections
- 1 cup flour, plus more for dusting counter top
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons ice-cold water
For the Apples
- 6 pounds Granny Smith apples, (about 6 large) or mixed varieties
- 1/2 cup bourbon
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, (one stick)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder, or to taste
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Sugar for sprinkling
- Add the flour, butter, sugar, baking powder, and salt to a food processor bowl.
- Process until the mixture is crumbly.
- Add the water and pulse until the dough forms a ball.
- Pat the dough into a disk and wrap in waxed paper.
- Chill for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Core, peel, and slice the apples
- Add the 1/2 cup butter, bourbon, sugar, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, apples, and chipotle to a 15-inch cast iron skillet.
- Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until apples are tender.
- Roll out the dough about 1/8-inch thick.
- Cut into squares.
- Drop the squares on the simmering apple mixture.
- Brush with cream and sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- Push the dough gently into the apples mixture.
- Bake for 20 minutes more, or until crust is crispy and golden.
- Granny Smith
- Regional Heirloom varieties