Sunday, September 19, 2010

Apple Pandowdy

There are so many different kinds of fruit desserts the are essentially a pile of fruit with some sort of pastry on top-slumps, grunts, pandowdies, crisps, crumbles, etc.-which are many of the desserts I love the best in summer and fall. How could I resist checking out a book called Rustic Fruit Desserts? Armed with a pile of fresh apples from Door Creek Orchard, I decided to try making an apple pandowdy. You've got to love a dessert that tells you right in the name that it doesn't have to be pretty, so there's no pressure to make things look perfect.

Next time I plan on brushing the pastry with a bit of melted butter and dusting it with turbinado sugar before going in the oven, just to give it a little something extra. The beauty of desserts like this is their simplicity, so I'll try to resist the urge to change too much, although I'm always trying to add my own special touch. If you like simple apple desserts like pies, crisps, and turnovers, you'll probably also love the classic simplicity of an apple pandowdy.

Apple Pandowdy
from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson
serves 8 to 12

1 tablespoon butter

1.5 c. (7.5 oz.) all-purpose flour
3 T. granulated sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. fine sea salt
6 T. (3 oz.) cold unsalted butter
1/2 c. whole milk, as needed

Fruit Filling:
8 large apples, peeled, cored, and each cut into 16 slices (3.5 lbs. prepped)
1/3 c. (2.25 oz.) granulated sugar
1 t. ground cinnamon
Pinch of fine sea salt
1 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 T. pure vanilla extract
2 T. unsalted butter

Vanilla bean ice cream, for serving (optional)

1. To make the pastry, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Cut the butter into 1-inch pieces, add to the flour mixture, and toss evenly to coat. Using your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut in the butter until completely broken down into the flour mixture. Add the milk a couple tablespoons at a time, stirring well after each addition to evenly moisten the dough. Add only enough milk for the dough to come together in a relatively dry mass. Gather the dough into a ball, then pat it our into a square. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it while you make the filling.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch cast-iron skillet or 9-inch square baking pan.

3. To make the fruit filling, toss the apples, sugar, cinnamon, salt, lemon juice, and vanilla together in a large bowl, then transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Cut the butter into small cubes and scatter over the apples.

4. Roll out the pastry just a bit smaller that the size of the pan. (The small gap between the pastry and the sides of the pan will allow steam to escape.) Carefully drape the pastry over the apples, then cut 3 stem vents in the pastry.

5. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the filling bubbles up around the edges. This pandowdy is best served warm, topped with a small scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

Storage: This pandowdy is best served the day it is made, but any leftovers can be wrapped in plastic and kept at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.

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