Perfect Peach-Blueberry Pandowdy

By • July 12, 2013 • 66 Comments

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Author Notes: 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. For the crust, I adapted my favorite galette dough from Cooks Illustrated by adding lemon zest and cornmeal for flavor. The baked crust is amazingly flaky and almost cookie-like from a cool technique called fraisage, which is just a fancy name for smearing your dough on the counter a few times. It’s perfect for a pandowdy because it gives the dough long, flaky layers and 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. And from there, I kept the filling simple and all about the fruit -- pandowdy doesn’t want to be fussed over. It’s best served in a bowl, with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream, so you can spoon up all of the saucy fruit. It’s pretty darn good the next day, too, as it takes on more of a pudding quality as the pieces of dough get soft and jammy from the fruit. Feel free to play around: you can use any combination of stone fruit and berries (or a single fruit) as long as you have about 6 cups in total. EmilyC

Food52 Review: WHO: EmilyC is an environmental scientist and consultant who always has a stash of chocolate in her Washington D.C. pantry.
WHAT: Meet pandowdy, pie's less beautiful -- but more laid-back -- cousin.
HOW: Make filling in a cast-iron skillet, blanket it with dough, and stick it in the oven. When your creation looks perfect, take a sharp knife to it. Your regrets will subside 30 minutes later, when you see the juice bubbling up through the vents, bathing your crust.
WHY WE LOVE IT: How do we love thee, pandowdy? Let us count the ways. We love your bubbling, not-too-sweet fruit filling. We love your perfectly flaky, cookie-like crust that comes together without much fuss. And oh how we love that, once we've polished off the whole thing, there's only one pan to clean.
A&M

Serves 6 to 8

  • FOR LEMON-CORNMEAL CRUST
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup stone ground yellow plain cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Finely grated zest from 1 small lemon (juice reserved for filling)
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 to 6 tablespoons ice water
  • FOR FILLING
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cups of pitted, peeled, and sliced ripe peaches plus 2 cups of blueberries (or any combination of stone fruit and/or berries), about 6 cups in total
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch (or 1 tablespoon for an all-berry version)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • FOR TOP OF CRUST
  • Egg white from 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
  1. FOR THE LEMON-CORNMEAL CRUST: In food processor, pulse flour, cornmeal, salt, and lemon zest to combine about 3 times. Scatter butter pieces over the flour mixture, then pulse until the butter is about the size of peas, about 8 to 10 short pulses. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of water over mixture and pulse a few times, then repeat with 1 tablespoon of water at a time, or just until small curds start to form and dough holds together when pinched with fingers. It’ll look kind of crumbly but that's okay. (Alternatively, you can do this by hand.)
  2. Empty dough onto clean counter or piece of wax paper. Using bench scraper, gather dough into a rough rectangular mound about 12 inches long and 4 inches wide. Starting from the farthest end, use the heel of your hand to smear about one sixth of dough against your work surface away from you. Repeat until all of your dough has been smeared. Using bench scraper, gather the dough again into a 12-inch long and 4-inch wide mound and repeat smearing of dough with heel of hand. The dough should be smooth and cohesive at this point; if not, repeat smearing process again. Form dough into 4 inch disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until firm about 1 hour. The smearing process creates long layers of butter in the dough, which translates to long flaky layers in the cooked crust.
  3. Heat the oven to 400° F while preparing filling and assembling pandowdy.
  4. FOR THE FILLING: In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat, melt the butter completely; cook until it turns brown and smells nutty, about 4 to 6 minutes. Be sure to stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom so they don't burn. Take the pan off heat. Add fruit, brown sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and pinch of salt to the brown butter, stirring gently to evenly incorporate all of the ingredients. (A note about thickener and sweetener: if your fruit is particularly juicy -- e.g, if you're using all blackberries -- you may want to increase the cornstarch to about 1 tablespoon. Add more brown sugar to taste if your fruit is on the tart side.)
  5. TO ASSEMBLE AND BAKE: On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough into a 12-inch round, dusting with flour as needed. (Don’t worry if your dough isn’t perfectly round.) Gently lay round of dough atop the fruit filling, tucking the dough edges around the fruit, leaving a small rim that sticks up against the side of the skillet. Brush with egg white and then sprinkle evenly with turbinado sugar. Poke a few small holes in the crust so steam can vent.
  6. Bake pandowdy for about 30 minutes, then remove from oven and break the dough into large pieces with a sharp knife to “dowdy” its looks. Return to oven and bake until the crust is golden and the fruit juices are bubbling up through the crust pieces, about 20 to 30 minutes longer. (I recommend putting a baking sheet underneath your skillet to catch any fruit juice that may bubble over.) Allow to cool at least 20 minutes. Even when fully cool, the pandowdy will have lots of juice, part of its charm, so serve in bowls with spoons. Vanilla ice cream, freshly whipped cream, or creme fraiche is highly recommended.
Jump to Comments (66)

Comments (66) Questions (0)

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5 months ago Jessica Collier

I am very interested in trying this! It looks delicious!

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5 months ago EmilyC

Hope you do! It's a favorite in my house! : )

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7 months ago Rumi143

I had a question - I usually don't use my cast iron for acidic recipes. Is this recipe not acidic enough to react/damage the seasoning?

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6 months ago EmilyC

Sorry for the late response! I've never had a problem with the filling damaging the seasoning, though no need to feel compelled to use your cast iron if you're concerned. It works great in a square (9x9) pan, or an equivalently sized oval baking dish. Hope your enjoy it!

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about 1 year ago Debbie

I have never heard of turbinado sugar. where do
I get it? Thanks

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Hi Debbie -- you can get turbinado sugar at most grocery stores in the baking aisle with other sugars. It's sometimes called 'sugar in the raw.' Any coarse sugar would work here, or you can substitute regular white sugar if you can't find it. Hope you try and enjoy the recipe!

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about 1 year ago lapadia

Great recipe, EmC! Love the lemon flavored crust and I've even made it with a savory tomato-green bean filling, left off the sugar coating, of course. Excellent, Congrats.

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Thank you, and your savory version sounds amazing! Would you mind sharing how you made the filling? I'd love to try it.

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about 1 year ago lapadia

Hi! Yes, I'll share, need to put it in writing. I'll message you this week sometime :)

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about 1 year ago The Aperitif

I made this last weekend and absolutely loved it. The crust is especially good with that crackly crunch from the cornmeal and it looked especially delicious after I "dowdier" it up! Total winner!

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

So happy to hear this! Thanks so much for trying it -- glad it was a hit!

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about 1 year ago QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

Yum! Congrats!

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Thanks QS!

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about 1 year ago Skinny bitches

I don't have a cast iron pan, will a pyrex dish do? Do I have to change the temperature for a glass casserole dish?

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Yes, any equivalently-sized casserole or pyrex will work. My mom has made this several times in a square pyrex (9x9x2 inches) and has rolled the dough out in a square versus circle. I'd leave the temp at 400 to get the nicely browned crust, but just check it a bit earlier than the recommended cooking time to be safe. Hope you try and like it!

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about 1 year ago Skinny bitches

Thanks Emily C. I will definitely try this recipe soon!!

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about 1 year ago savorthis

Congrats Emily!

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Thanks so much savorthis!

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about 1 year ago savorthis

PS- we are camping this weekend and I can't help but wonder if there is a way to do this on the fire. I am not that skilled in camp-baking but I am intrigued....Might not get around to it this time, but I'd love to give it a go!

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

I'm not skilled at all in 'camp-baking' so I can't help, but it'd be really cool if you figured out a good method!

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about 1 year ago ChristineQ

I made your Pandowdy last night and it was a hit, everyone raved.

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

So happy to get your note! Glad it was a success! Thanks for trying it and circling back.

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about 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Congratulations, EmC! This is definitely on my list of things to make.

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Thanks HLA! I hope you get a chance to try it!

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about 1 year ago healthierkitchen

Wow! This looks delicious and I'm glad to finally know what a Pandowdy is!

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Thanks Wendy! I'll admit to not knowing much about pandowdy until this contest. I'm now a wee bit obsessed with them. I can't wait to try an apple version once honey crisps are in season.

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about 1 year ago Kukla

Congratulations EmilyC! Even though in the end you destroyed the poor Pandowdy, it still looks and sounds very yummy! Good luck!

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Haha, thanks Kukla -- that pandowdy does get pretty beat up, doesn't it?!? In a way, though, I think it ends up being prettier!

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about 1 year ago Jo B

I have this in the oven now with mostly Italian plums and some peaches and apricots, no berries. Both finalists looked fantastic but I fell for the name, the pan, the lack of sugar in the crust, the cornmeal. Can't wait! Will report later.

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Thanks so much, Jo B -- so happy you're trying this! The plum, peach, apricot combination sounds delicious. Let me know how it turns out!

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about 1 year ago Jo B

EmilyC, the pandowdy was delicious! I love that it wasn't too sweet, what with the no-sugar cornmeal/flour crust and the light hand with brown sugar. I have two small suggestions for people who haven't made this yet (you MUST make it!)--one is not to tuck the crust down too far along the edge, as the filling swamped it before I even dowdied it--I should have looked at your photos and just turned the crust up, not also tuck it down. And I didn't cut a vent in it, so maybe that encouraged the side swamp. But that didn't hurt the taste at all, just made a little less of the crispy crust. The crust was super easy to handle, by the way. The other thing is, while I'll make this again in a cast-iron pan for a family or a group dessert where it all gets eaten in one evening, with just the two of us home I'll make it in a glass pan next time, so there's no need to transfer the leftovers to a glass container for refrigerating. In any case, great recipe, and it's a keeper! Here are a few photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos...

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Jo B -- Thanks so much for trying it and for your helpful notes! Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for sharing your pics!

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about 1 year ago gingerroot

Hooray! congrats, EmC! I also had a feeling about this, I'm happy to see it here as a finalist.

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

What a nice note -- thanks GR! Seeing this as a finalist definitely made my day!

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about 1 year ago amber wilson | for the love of the south

Looks lovely! This is a very unique dessert!

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Thank you, for the love of the south!

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about 1 year ago savorthis

This looks great Emily (especially the zest in the crust). Congrats!

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Thanks savorthis -- I love zest in pie crust (well, in about all baked goods)!

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about 1 year ago Madhuja

Congratulations, Emily! This is so well deserved! :)

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Thanks for the kind note, Madhuja -- appreciate it!

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about 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Congrats, Em. Such an appealing dessert. Llooking forward to making this, especially now that our blueberries are bearing a bit more generously. ;o)

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Thanks so much, AJ! I'd be thrilled if you try it!

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about 1 year ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

I agree with Abbie! This one was such an obvious candidate for finalist, it was like why even bother with the others!? :)

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Aw, thanks Em! : )

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about 1 year ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

CONGRATS EMILY! I KNEW IT!!!!

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about 1 year ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

me too! congrats!

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Thanks so much, Abbie and Barbara! What a happy surprise to check in and see the gorgeous pics and words of congrats! I think this calls for making another pandowdy this weekend (I'll take any excuse)...

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over 1 year ago Crystal George-Mickolwin

The perfect excuse for making dessert on a weeknight. I just bought peaches and blueberries from a local farm so this will fit right in.

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

Weeknight desserts are the best! Hope you enjoy it -- let me know how it turns out!

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over 1 year ago Crystal George-Mickolwin

This is definitely a keeper. My husband is at times obsessed with pie and I never want to make it. I don't like fussing with the crust and personally I don't like the crust to fruit ratio. This is the answer to that! Problem - he ate half of it already.

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

So happy this was a hit with you and your husband! And I couldn't agree more about the relative virtues of pandowdy versus pie! Thanks so much for trying it.

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over 1 year ago Madhuja

OMG! How did I miss this?! I'll definitely have to make this one, soon!

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

I'd be thrilled if you try it! Let me know if you do! : )

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

By the way, I think the breaking of the crust midway has a functional purpose as well . . . to allow the crust to bake better. You get those nice toasty interior edges with a pandowdy that you just can't achieve with a cobbler, no matter how generously your vents. Just an observation . . . . . ;o)

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

It's a good observation AJ, and the cut edges of this crust do get nicely browned and crisp despite all of the fruit juices that bubble up around them (the simple step of smearing the dough really works wonders). Interestingly, some pandowdy recipes call for pushing the crust pieces completely down in the fruit halfway through baking, creating more of hybrid between a pie and pudding. Some call for cutting up and scattering pieces of dough over the fruit in a patchwork fashion before baking, while others have you bake the pieces of dough separately from the fruit and then combine near the end. From what I can figure, the common thread among pandowdies seems to be the presence of a broken crust, whether it's pie or biscuit dough. I find them to be fascinating and charming. I've always preferred pie for its crust and cobbler for its volume of juicy fruit, so to me, pandowdy gives you the best of both worlds! I really hope you try and like it! : )

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Sounds positively delicious! I have a "lug" of peaches I brought back from the Gold Country on Sunday. This is definitely on the agenda within the next 48 hours. ;o)

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over 1 year ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Now I really want to smear and dowdy a crust. Fun and delicious in one!!!

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

You should -- it IS fun! : )

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over 1 year ago Niknud

That is one lucky cast iron skillet. Great picture!

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

Haha, I'd have to agree! : ) And thanks about the pic.

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over 1 year ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Yum. This does look pretty perfect.

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

Thanks Em. I think pandowdy is perfect in the sense that you get to have a pie dough without any of the worry about thickener and crimped crusts that go along with making a fruit pie, which I'll admit stresses me out.

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over 1 year ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I almost did a pandowdy, love this!! The combination of blueberries and peaches is heavenly.

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

Thanks Suzanne! Pandowdy is my new favorite fruit dessert -- so unfussy and delicious!

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over 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

This looks & sounds delicious! I love the "dowdied" crust.

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

Thanks HLA! The step where you "dowdy" the crust is so much fun! Not many desserts invite you to wreck their looks, though I think it's pretty this way.