Cast Iron

Swampy Strawberry Pandowdy

May 22, 2018
4 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Prep time 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

What happens when you flood a pandowdy (an old-fashioned dessert that has a broken, "dowdy" pie crust covering a mound of fresh fruit) with lots of cream? 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. It's best served in bowls so you can spoon up every last bit of the juicy strawberries and cream.

The inspiration for this swampy beauty comes from my Perfect Peach-Blueberry Pandowdy and Amanda Hesser's Swamp Pie.

Here are some variations so you can make this all summer long, using whatever fruit you have on hand:

Strawberry-rhubarb: Use 1 1/2 pounds strawberries, 1 pound rhubarb (cut into 1/2-inch pieces), and 1 cup sugar (1/2 cup light brown + 1/2 cup granulated).

Mixed berry: Use an equal amount of berries--any combination of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

Stone fruit: Use an equal amount of fruit (peaches, plums, nectarines, etc.). Reduce tapioca to 2 tablespoons. —EmilyC

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: Strawberries & Cream Pandowdy Is the Summer Pie We've All Been Waiting For —The Editors

What You'll Need
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Swampy Strawberry Pandowdy
  • For the rye crust
  • 1 cup (120 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) rye flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 to 6 tablespoons ice water
  • For the filling and assembly
  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds strawberries, hulled (leave small berries whole; halve any large berries), about 6 cups in total (see headnote for variations)
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca (sometimes called granulated tapioca or tapioca pearls)
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • Finely grated zest + 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 1 small lemon
  • 1 large egg, separated into white and yolk (egg white lightly beaten with a fork)
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. For the rye crust
  2. In a food processor, pulse flours and salt to combine. Scatter butter pieces over the flour mixture, then pulse until the butter is the size of large peas, about 6 to 8 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.)
  3. 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.
  1. For the filling and assembly
  2. Heat the oven to 400° F.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the sugars, tapioca, and pinch of salt until well integrated.
  4. In a 10-inch cast-iron or ovenproof skillet, gently toss the strawberries with the sugar-tapioca mixture, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
  5. 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 and folding 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 (place a foil-lined baking sheet underneath the skillet to catch any fruit juices that spill over), then remove the skillet 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 firm and the fruit juices are bubbling up through the crust pieces, about 20 minutes longer.
  7. Meanwhile, whisk together the cream, egg yolk, and vanilla extract in a measuring cup with a spout. Remove the pandowdy from the oven and let the juices settle for a minute or two. Slowly begin pouring the cream mixture into each of the cuts; use the back of a spoon or a knife if needed to help with the flooding, working your way around the entire pandowdy. Some of the cream will go under the crust and much will pool on top. This is okay (and expected)!
  8. Return the pandowdy to the oven and bake until the cream just sets but is still a little jiggly, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Even when fully cool, the pandowdy will have lots of juice, part of its charm, so serve in bowls with spoons. It's best on the day it's baked, but it's not bad at all on Day 2 straight from the fridge (breakfast, perhaps?!).

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Recipe 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.

2 Reviews

Holly August 29, 2021
really tasty! i used some soft-ish strawberries and plums that were a little past their prime and they cooked beautifully. this recipe also seems to handle substitutions well. i didn't have rye flour, so i subbed in whole wheat. and for the tapioca, i didn't have pearls but i did have tapioca flour. both worked perfectly. this is a great way to use up leftover farmers market fruit!
EmilyC August 29, 2021
Thanks Holly! Glad you found the recipe forgiving and tasty! : )