Hello, Summer

Strawberries & Cream Pandowdy Is the Summer Pie We've All Been Waiting For

June  7, 2018
Strawberry pandowdy fields forever. Photo by Rocky Luten

Behold the Swampy Strawberry Pandowdy, a mash-up of my favorite pandowdy and Amanda Hesser’s swamp pie.

If you’re not familiar with pandowdy, it’s a fruit-lover’s dream dessert. With a single pie crust covering a mound of fruit, pandowdy has a higher fruit-to-crust ratio than pie or galette. About halfway through baking, the crust is broken into big, irregular pieces to let the juices bubble up and spill over, giving it its “dowdy” appearance. It’s usually served in bowls to make it easier to spoon up every last bit of the juicy fruit.

And swamp pie? It’s a fruit pie flooded with cream during the final minutes of baking. The cream is mixed with an egg yolk to make it a little custardy. As Amanda once pointed out, cream in a pie beats cream on a pie. I couldn’t agree more. Her swamp pie is one of my favorite pies ever.

So what happens when you flood a pandowdy with cream? Well, things get swampy and downright glorious, especially when the pandowdy is loaded with sweet, juicy strawberries and the cream is perfumed with vanilla. Some of the cream sinks down into the filling and some pools on top with the strawberry juices. A plain strawberry pandowdy would be good and all, but a strawberries and cream version? Yes, please!

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If I haven’t convinced you yet that this swampy pandowdy should be your next dessert, consider this: The rye crust complements the flavor of the strawberries so well. It’s amazingly flaky and almost cookie-crisp from a fancy-sounding yet simple French technique called fraisage, where you make pie crust by smearing the dough on the counter a few times. This technique works perfectly for pandowdy because it creates long, flaky layers with enough structure to remain crisp even when swamped with all that juice and cream.

And best of all, swampy pandowdy is easier than pie to make (sorry, couldn’t resist). There’s no fussing with crimping or getting the crust picture-perfect, no picking just the right amount of thickener based on the juiciness of the fruit that day, no stressing when you slice that first piece to see if the filling has set. Pandowdy is completely laid-back and forgiving. No matter how much fruit juice and cream swamp the top, it’s delicious and beautiful every single time.

So run—don’t walk!—to the nearest farmers market or you-pick patch to snatch up the sweetest, juiciest strawberries you can find, grab some cream, and start smearing and swamping. And then repeat all summer long with different kinds of fruit, individually or in combination. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, figs—summer never looked so sweet.

What's your favorite summer pie? Tell us in the comments below!

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Written by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.