Apple pandowdy is a historic recipe that needs to reclaim its rightful place as one of the stars of fall baking. It has an extra juicy spiced apple filling topped with a rustic pie crust caramelized in the brown sugar apple goodness.
The secret to apple pandowdy lies in its two-part baking process. You first bake it until the crust is lightly browned. Then, you remove it from the oven, cut the crust into squares, push the squares down into the filling, and bake again. The crust tastes so spectacular this way that I almost want to do this every time I make a pie!
The apple filling in pandowdy is more wet than what you’d find in a pie or cobbler. You want the extra liquid to caramelize the crust. In my recipe, this extra liquid is maple syrup. If you like the taste of molasses, you could use it instead. Some other recipes use a mix of maple syrup and apple cider, which also works really well.
For your apples, use a mix of apple varieties – some sweet and some tart. I use a combination of Golden Delicious, Jonathan, and Granny Smith.
I spice the apples with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. You can also experiment with adding allspice, cloves, and cardamom if you like those flavors.
You’ll need one 9″ pie crust. A store-bought crust works fine for this, or make your own! Erin McDowell explains how to do this better than anyone I’ve seen.
How It’s Made
Start by peeling and thinly slicing your apples, tossing them in lemon juice, and mixing in brown sugar and spices. Place the apples in a 9″ square pan.
Mix maple syrup and vanilla extract and pour over the apples.
Top with small pieces of butter and cover with pie crust, tucking in the sides. Don’t worry about the pie crust looking perfect since you’ll be cutting it up later on. Cut a few slits into the pie crust to let the steam escape during baking, too.
Tip: You may need to first roll out the pie crust so it completely covers the 9″ square pan.
You could bake the dessert right then, but I like to brush the top with a little milk and sprinkle on some coarse sugar to give the top a sparkly look.
Bake at 400 F for 30 minutes – the top should be lightly browned. Then, remove from the oven, cut the crust into squares, and lightly push each square into the apple filling.
Lower the oven temperature to 350 F and bake for another 30 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned.
Let the dessert set for an hour before digging in!
Expert Tips and FAQs
Cutting the crust and pressing it into the warm apple filling is called “dowdying”. The word “dowdy” means shabby and not neat, so it makes sense that dowdying is making the crust look messier.
Yes! You can make this in a 9″ round pan or a skillet.
Sure! Traditional pandowdy doesn’t have a bottom crust, but you can definitely add one if you like.
You can store it covered at room temperature for three days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Other Apple Dessert Recipes
- 8 medium apples peeled, cored, and thinly sliced – use a mix of apple varieties such as Jonathan, Granny Smith, and Golden Delicious
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar light brown sugar will also work, it will just have a more mild flavor
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter cold, cut into small pieces
- 1 9" pie crust rolled into a square, homemade or store-bought
- 2 tablespoons milk optional, for sugared topping
- 1 tablespoon coarse sugar optional, for sugared topping
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss sliced apples in lemon juice.
- Mix in brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt, making sugar all of the apples are evenly coated.
- Spread the apples evenly in a lightly greased 9″ square baking pan.
- Mix vanilla extract and maple syrup in a measuring cup and pour evenly over the apples.
- Dot with butter pieces.
- Top with pie crust, tucking the sides down if there is any overhang. Don't worry about the appearance as it will be cut up later. Cut a few slits into the pie crust to let steam escape during baking.
- For a sparkly crust appearance, brush crust with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned.
- Remove from the oven and use a knife to cut the crust into 9-12 squares.
- Gently push the squares down into the hot apple filling.
- Reduce the oven to 350 F, return the pan to the oven, and bake for 30 more minutes or until the crust is nicely browned.
- Let the pandowdy cool for an hour to set before serving.
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