Hey all, it’s Terry. Presenting a peachy taste of my upcoming book this fall, Vegan Pie in the Sky. There’s a little known cousin of pie called pandowdy, something that if you fear making crusts from scratch or are simply looking for something beyond basic pie or cobbler that just happens to be a fantastic fusion of both.
Pandowdy is an old-fashioned American dessert that isn’t “dowdy” at all; it’s simply a pie-filling topped with a single crust, plus a perplexing additional step that yields intriguing results. Half way through baking, the pie is removed from the oven and the half-baked crust is partially smashed into the filling. It’s baked once more, and all the fruit juices that would have normally stayed trapped under the crust can flow freely. The final result is a juicy concoction with a top crust that’s both tender, melting, and crisp. It’s easier and less fussy that making a double pie crust, but the flavors are just as satisfying.
You can use your favorite crust recipe, but this recipe loves convenience as much as you do: leave the rolling pin alone and try this with a store bought frozen crust. Look for high quality unbaked crusts with occasionally organic ingredients at natural food stores. Frozen pie crusts (pre-formed in aluminum pie tins), can be flipped over onto a sheet of waxed paper and left to thaw at room temperature for about 30 minutes. As the crust thaws it will collapse a little or cracks may form; just press the dough together in spots to get a circle, then carefully slide on top of the filling.
The awesome part is that because you’ll be smashing the crust into the filling it there’s no need to be concerned if the top crust doesn’t look picture perfect. The only perfection that matters is how great it will taste!
Peaches and ginger are my favorite filling, but any fruity pie filling of choice makes a great pandowdy. If using berries or apples, consider covering the whole thing with foil for the first 20 minutes of baking and bake at 425 degrees, then remove the pie to smash the crust and turn the oven down to 350 to resume the baking.
Ginger Peach Pandowdy
makes one 10 inch pie
One recipe Single Pie Crust (recipe below) or 1 thawed frozen store-bought crust
2 pounds peaches, skins removed and pits removed
⅔ cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons finely minced candied ginger
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and have ready a deep dish ceramic 10 inch pie plate. Roll out crust to a 12 inch circle and keep chilled until ready to use.
2. Slice peaches into ½ inch thick pieces and pour into the pie plate. Sprinkle with remaining filling ingredients and toss to completely coat slices, then slide or roll crust on top. Gently press crust onto filling and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat of the oven to 350 degrees.
3. Remove pie from oven and with a thin sharp knife slice crust into diamonds about 1 inch wide, then use the back of a wide spoon to mash down the crust diamonds into the filling; some of the juices should seep over the crust. Return the pie to the oven and bake another 35-40 minutes or until the top is golden and the fruit is actively bubbling through the crust. Move the pie to a cooling rack for 20 minutes, then spoon warm pandowdy into serving bowls, top with a favorite ice cream and serve it up!
If you really want to make a crust, here’s a basic recipe for a single 9-10 inch crust…
Single Pastry Crust
fits 1 nine-ten inch pie plate
1 ½ cups all purpose unbleached flour
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold nonhydrogentated shortening
4-6 tablespoons ice water
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1. Sift together flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in shortening with forks or a pastry cutter to form a crumbly dough. Stir together 4 tablespoons of ice water and vinegar, then drizzle a third over the flour. Gentle mix to moisten, drizzle another third and mix to moisten. Repeat with remaining water until dough forms a soft ball when pressed together; if not yet sprinkle with another tablespoon (or more) of ice water until the dough can be gathered together into ball.
2. On a lightly floured surface gentle knead the dough ball a few times, pat into a flat disk about an inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap or sandwich between wax paper and refrigerate for an hour. When ready to roll out the crust, tear off a 14 inch piece of wax paper or baking parchment and light sprinkle with flour. Place the dough disk in the center, and with a lightly floured rolling pin use long, even stroke to roll out the dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Occasionally rotate the dough while rolling to help form an even circle.
3. To place the dough circle in a pie place, slid your hand underneath the center of the paper and quickly flip onto the center of a pie plate. Peel of the paper and gently press the dough into the plate; if necessary trim any overhanging dough edges with a sharp knife.