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
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. —The Editors