Apple Pandowdy is a classic American dessert. Spiced apples are topped with rustic puff pastry and drizzled with melted butter, with a crunchy sugar crust.
You may be wondering, what is apple pandowdy?
Apple pandowdy, or pan dowdy, is a classic American dessert, similar to an an apple pie. Popular in the 1800s and early 1900s, this dessert is filled with sweetened and spiced apple slices, then topped with dough pieces.
The name comes from the dowdy, or shabby looking, crust. When your dessert is fresh from the oven, use the back of a spoon to press your dough down into the apple filling. This process further breaks apart your rustic style crust, and the puff pastry soaks up extra flavor from the apple juices.
Perfect for sharing with a group, this pandowdy serves eight. Top with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Makes a great holiday dessert for Thanksgiving and Christmas!
Ingredients and substitutions
Puff pastry - Can be substituted with one pie crust instead. Modern pandowdy is often made with either pie crust or puff pastry.
Apples - I suggest using your favorite pie apples, like granny smith (pictured), honeycrisp, golden delicious, or McIntosh.
Brown sugar - I prefer brown sugar because it adds a nice caramelized flavor to your filling, but it can be substituted with granulated sugar if needed.
Flour - All purpose flour coats your apples and thickens the juices and sugars while baking.
Spices/Extracts - You'll need vanilla extract, cinnamon, and allspice for this recipe.
Lemon - Lemon juice coats your apples to prevent oxidation, and also adds a bit of tartness to cut through the sweetness of this dessert. Lemon zest adds a bright, fresh flavor.
Unsalted butter - Used to help your puff pastry brown on top and add flavor.
Turbinado sugar is optional, but I enjoy the crunchy crust it adds on top. If you don't have any on hand, granulated sugar can be used instead.
What type of apples should I use?
Granny smith apples are a great choice for baking because they are firm and keep their shape after baking. They're also widely available in grocery stores year round.
Other great choices are Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, or Rome apples. For more information, check out this article: Bob's Red Mill - Best Apples for Apple Pie.
Pressing your crust down
Whether using puff pastry or traditional pie crust, you'll want to take one extra step once your dessert is removed from the oven.
While your dish is still warm, use the back of a spoon to press the crust down lightly to soak up the filling juices. Your crust may break apart slightly - this is intentional.
- 2 ½ pounds (1135 g) granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into ½" wedges
- ½ cup (107 g) brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar, or granulated sugar
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a shallow 2 to 2.5 quart baking dish (like a 7x11 inch glass dish) and set aside.
- In a large bowl, add sliced apples, brown sugar, flour, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and allspice. Toss to evenly coat apple slices. Pour apples into prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer. Set aside.
- Roll out your puff pastry sheet into a 12 inch square. Slice into pieces (about 2 inch squares), then scatter on top of your apple pie filling, overlapping slightly and leaving gaps to show the filling underneath.
- Drizzle melted butter over the puff pastry layer and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
- Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until apples in the center of the dish can be pierced through easily with a fork. Baking time will depend on thickness and type of apples used. Puff pastry should be golden brown across the top.
- While still warm, use the back of a spoon to gently press puff pastry down into filling, allowing it to soak up some of the juices.
- Serve warm, optionally with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- Lemon zest and juice = one medium sized lemon
- Puff pastry can be substituted with one pie crust instead.
- Granny smith, honeycrisp, or golden delicious apples are ideal for baking.
- Any leftovers will keep for up to two days, sealed with foil or fitted lid, at room temperature.
- A shallow, 2 quart baking dish is best for this recipe. I used a 7 x 11 inch pyrex glass baking dish.