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Old-fashioned Apple Pandowdy is super easy to make and tastes absolutely amazing. The trick is to have the right amount of liquid so the crust can be pressed into the bubbling juices (dowdying) part-way through baking to form a glaze.
Apple Pandowdy (or Apple Pan Dowdy) is an old-fashioned skillet apple pie dating back to the early 1800’s.
There’s an old song titled ‘Shoo-Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy‘ that was popular in the mid-1940’s. The song refers to a pie that is lightly sweetened with either molasses or maple syrup and is typically prepared with a top pastry only. The unique feature of the pie comes from the ‘dowdy’ part of the name.
Some old recipes call for the crust to be prepared all in one piece and placed over the apples. The crust is then broken up with a knife part-way through baking and partially submerged in the juices using a spatula (dowdying the crust).
More recent recipes suggest cutting the crust into small squares and arrange in a patchwork pattern over the apples. For this recipe I’ve cut the crust into squares but in the past have made our Pandowdy a little more festive by cutting out leaves and acorns from the pastry using cookie cutters.
For the all-butter crust:
- all-purpose flour
- granulated sugar
- unsalted butter
- ice cold water
- Apples peeled, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch wedges (we like Granny Smith apples as they hold their shape when baked)
- juice of a lemon to prevent the apples from turning brown
- granulated sugar
- light brown sugar
- unsweetened apple cider (not vinegar) pasteurized or unpasteurized both work well
- vanilla extract
- ground cinnamon
- fresh grated nutmeg
- cornstarch for thickening
- an egg wash for brushing on the dough squares
- coarse sugar
How to make Apple Pandowdy
1. Start by making the all-butter pie pastry
Combine the flour, salt, sugar and butter in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for 2 to 3 seconds or until the butter is the size of large peas. Add the ice water and pulse just until the dough starts to hold together but is still crumbly.
Turn the mixture out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Form the dough into a disk and cover tightly. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days. Pastry dough can be frozen well sealed for up to a month.
You can also use a store-bought pie crust in place of homemade if desired.
2. Prepare the apple mixture
Peel, core and slice the apples and place in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice and toss to coat. Add the granulated and brown sugars and stir to combine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature.
3. Roll out the dough
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper into a rectangle or circle one-inch larger than your pan. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the dough into squares about 2 1/2 inches in diameter.
Transfer the dough (on the parchment) onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm.
4. Assemble the pandowdy
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 or 10-inch cast-iron skillet, oven-proof skillet or 13×9-inch casserole with butter.
Pour the sugared apple slices and any accumulated juice into the prepared baking dish. Spread the apples into an even layer.
Combine the apple cider, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cornstarch and salt. Pour over the apples then dot with 2 tablespoons butter cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
Remove the dough squares from the refrigerator and place the pieces over the filling until mostly covered, overlapping as needed. Any squares with rough edges can be covered with other dough pieces.
Brush the dough squares with a beaten egg then sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
Bake the pandowdy for 30 to 35 minutes or until the juices are bubbling. Remove from the oven and gently press down on the dough using the back of a spoon or spatula until the juices come over the top of the crust. (You can also tilt the pan and spoon the juices over the crust.) Repeat until most of the crust has been submerged or covered. Return the pan to the oven and continue baking until the crust is golden brown and glazed, about 15 minutes more.
6. Cool and serve 🍨
Cool slightly and serve warm with ice cream if desired. The juices will thicken as the pandowdy cools.
The Apple Pandowdy should be juicier than a regular apple pie
We tested this recipe many times but found that a juicy pandowdy is the best pandowdy. You need enough liquid to dowdy the crust or it’s just a single crust pie apple pie. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just not the same.
Served warm straight from the oven topped with vanilla ice cream is my preferred way to enjoy apple pandowdy. The juices are a bit runny when it’s warm but thicken after it has a chance to cool.
How to store and serve Apple Pandowdy
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat on 50% power in the microwave if desired.
Apple Pandowdy is great served with a scoop of ice cream, lightly whipped cream or a splash of heavy cream.
What kind of apples are best to use in an Apple Pandowdy?
Any good baking apple works well in this recipe. A combination of Granny Smith and Golden Delicious is my favorite. When I can’t find Golden Delicious apples I use all Granny Smith. They hold their shape well and don’t turn into apple sauce in the pan.
Sweet Apples for baking:
- Golden Delicious
Tart Apples for baking:
- Granny Smith
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For the all-butter crust:
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (156g)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 3 ½ tablespoons ice cold water
For the apple mixture:
- 3 ½ pounds apples peeled, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch wedges (about 8 large apples)
- juice of 1 lemon
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar (74g)
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar packed (72g)
- 1 ¼ cups unsweetened apple cider (10oz)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 egg lightly beaten for brushing on the dough
- 2 tablespoons coarse sugar or granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
To prepare the pie dough:
- Combine the flour, salt, sugar and butter in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for 2 to 3 seconds or until the butter is the size of large peas. Add the ice water and pulse just until the dough starts to hold together when pinched but is still crumbly.
- Turn the mixture out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Form the dough into a 5-inch disk and cover tightly. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days. Dough can also be frozen well sealed for up to a month.
To prepare the apple mixture:
- Peel, core and slice the apples into 1/4-inch thick wedges. Sprinkle lemon juice over the apples and toss to combine. Add the granulated and brown sugars to the apples and stir to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature while rolling out the dough.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to rest at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before rolling.
- Lightly flour a large piece of parchment paper. Roll the dough out on the parchment into a 10-inch circle for a 9-inch skillet (depending on the size of your skillet or casserole). If using a 13×9-inch pan roll the dough into a 14×10-inch rectangle. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the dough into 2 1/2-inch squares. Transfer the parchment (with crust squares) to a baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until the dough is firm.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a 9 or 10-inch skillet or 13×9-inch casserole with butter. Set aside.
- Pour the sugared apples and any accumulated juice into the prepared pan. Spread into an even layer.
- In a 2-cup measure whisk together the apple cider, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cornstarch and salt. Pour over the apples then dot with 2 tablespoons of butter cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
- Remove the dough squares from the refrigerator and place the pieces over the filling until mostly covered, overlapping as needed. Brush the beaten egg over the dough. Combine the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over the pieces of squares.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the juices are bubbling. Remove from the oven and gently press down on the dough using the back of a spoon or spatula until the juices come over the top of the crust. (You can also carefully tilt the pan and spoon the juices over the crust.) Repeat until most of the dough has been submerged or covered. Return the pan to the oven and continue baking until the crust is golden brown and glazed, about 15 minutes more.
- Cool slightly and serve warm with ice cream if desired. The juices will thicken as the pandowdy cools.
- Store leftovers well sealed in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat on 50% power in the microwave.
- We typically use Granny Smith Apples in this recipes as they apples hold together well and have a nice tart flavor.
- Add a handful of diced cranberries or raisins with the apples.
- For a decorative touch, cut the dough using cookie cutters like maple leaves, etc.
Old-fashioned desserts are some of the best
Enjoy this perfectly easy, and delicious fall dessert. It’s a great way to make your apple loving family very happy! ❤️🍏
Originally published November 2015, updated October 2022
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