See this pie – its a gorgeous skillet bake with a nicely ‘gridded’ top crust. Meet my version of the pandowdy. An Apple & Rhubarb pandowdy. – thick with flavour and scented with citrus. Sweet, with hints of tart, nicely wrapped in a flaky crust.
I met this pandowdy fellow a mere week ago – there she graced the cover of peach and blueberry filling.
I knew I just had to make my own.
I have to say, this is THE BEST way to get golden, crispy top crust. Which children will want to devour. And will devour. With your permission, somewhat ‘unknown’ to you.
Emily C’s (author) comments on Pandowdy, food52.com: You’ve got to love a dessert with a name like pandowdy. Compared to a pie with its pretty fluted crust, the pandowdy is laid-back, forgiving, and completely accepting of the fact that it won’t win any beauty contests.
It’s covered with a pie or biscuit crust that’s broken up halfway through baking, giving it its “dowdy” appearance, though by some accounts, it likely originated from a resourceful cook who scattered remnants of dough over some expiring fruit.
…….enough structure to remain crisp even when some pieces become submerged in juicy, bubbling fruit.
To play up its rustic charm, I recommend using a cast-iron skillet, which conveniently allows you to brown some butter and sneak it into the filling.
I deviated from this ‘top’ crust only ‘pandowdy’…..because I had lots of pie dough. I essentially made a pie with a bottom crust and a top ‘dowdied’. Recipes are after all a starting point. Not an end in themselves. I did however follow the advice to use a cast-iron skillet. Mind you, I had to dig out the base of the pie but that didn’t stop it from being thoroughly enjoyed.
It also turned out beautifully – golden. with bronzed sugar crystals, using my newly discovered and trusted pie crust recipe (not Emily’s with cornmeal – though I will try that soon), flavoured with some teaspoons of Orchidea, a stunning spice blend from Lior Lev Sercarz. A gift should I say. From the spice alchemist. Too many things to tell you but I’ll do it step by step. Lior’s story coming soon.
I laid base crust, filled it, topped it and tucked the top crust in.
Then I sprinkled some demerara sugar and left it to bake.
Half an hour later, I brought it out and then ‘dowdied’ it by cutting a grid.
After which it baked for another half hour. Then it was ready.
A trophy pie.
For a moment.
For while I spoke on the phone as the pie breathed its last ‘whole’ breaths, the kids came to me seeking some. I gave them free rein and when I returned to the kitchen, discussion done, there was one teeny weeny slab pf crust left, and cries of ‘I tried the filling, true’. What could I do? But smile. At least I got a taste, and the rim was barely touched – enough baked up pastry and wonderfully luscious filling which consisted of tea-poached rhubarb and apple, pureed and combined with Calvados sauteed apple chunks and then an egg yolk folded in, to yield a rich but fruity pie.
Pandowdy, before being dowdied.
And after…..eaten, beaten and made even dowdied by loving children.
The leftovers which I had for breakfast today are the TASTIEST pie remains I’ve ever had. Unbelievable.
Out it came, the pandowdy – the hot handle held gingerly with potholders made by the kids.
It’s all the rage in this home, so much so that we’re running out of ‘loops’ to weave for the warp and weft but I came up with an ingenious idea.
Get old cotton-nylon tights and cut the slimmer calf section into 1 inch pieces which you then lightly pull apart to stretch and form the ‘loops’.
Spice blends are a great way to jazz up sauces, and crusts alike. In this case, I used No 34: Orchidea, a combination of orchid root, sichuan peppercorns and lime. Fragrant, with a slightly numbing effect – it worked beautifully in this crust and in mini-berry pies, just a hint of something special.
Teapot Drip Catcher
While in New York, we celebrated daughter #2’s birthday at Chapter II of Alice’s Teacup – a wonderful establishment paying homage to Alice in Wonderland and High Tea. It was there I discovered this wonderful thingie….whose name I learnt, then promptly forgot.
After half an hour searching online for the name, I rang Alice’s teacup and asked what it was. ‘Oh, the drip catcher’…., yes ‘The drip catcher’. Except I didn’t know it by that name. Except, I didn’t know it, period!
And what a delight it is, made up of 3 parts – a sponge that sits underneath the spout – to catch drips; a ‘stop’ in this case, a ceramic rose, edged in ‘gold’ that should sit behind the knob on the lid – holding it securely and an ‘s’ hook, all held together with a piece of elastic which ensures all the parts stay where they should.
Talk about the weird and wonderful. And useful, for my two china teapots are lidless, tops broken. Thankfully, I have little matching saucers which I can use. With this new tool, my future lids will remain whole. Unbroken.
New Measuring Cups and Spoons
My new friend Patricia made a gift of these. Beautifully crafted stainless steel measuring cups and spoons – sturdy, shiny, and beautifully designed. I LOVE them. As she says : ‘….I figure every serious chef should have a solid pair in their arsenal.’ Thank you, Patricia!
In addition to tipping us off to ‘Alice’s Teacup’, Patricia met up with me for brunch at Rosa Mexicano, close to the Lincoln centre in New York where we shared the most delicious Tres Leches cake….ever! Well ,my first three milks soaked cake. And I loved it.
These are a few of my favourite things. What are yours this month?