Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Apple Pandowdy

A very long bake in a slow ( 300°F) oven gives this dish its deep, rich flavor. Like monkey bread, pandowdy has a name whose origin is a mystery. The best explanation I've heard is that you "dowdy it up" to serve it, breaking the crust into chunks and submerging them beneath the hot, aromatic apple filling. Or maybe it's the dish's plain, "dowdy" appearance. Hey, whatever; once you taste it, you'll stop worrying about the name!

Filling
8 to 9 cups (about 2 1/4 pounds) cored, peeled, and thickly sliced Granny Smith apples (or your favorite pie apples); about 6 large apples, about 3 pounds before preparation
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup (2 3/4 ounces) boiled cider (first choice), or brown sugar (1 7/8 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) vanilla extract
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) lemon juice
1/4 cup (1 ounce) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) butter, melted

Crust
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, or a combination of unbleached flour and King Arthur 100% Organic White Whole Wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) butter, cut into pats
1/4 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia or 2 teaspoons vanilla, optional
3/4 to 1 cup (6 to 8 ounces) half and half or milk
coarse white sparkling sugar, for topping, optional
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Select your pan (see next paragraph), and grease it lightly with butter or non-stick pan spray.

To prepare the filling: Place the sliced apples in a large bowl; add all of the remaining filling ingredients except the butter. Spoon the mixture into a 2-quart casserole dish or other fairly deep casserole pan; the apples shouldn't come more than two-thirds up the sides of the pan, because you're going to add a top crust, and the whole thing's going to bubble. I used an oval casserole that's about 9" x 12", and about 3" deep; I could have gone about 2 3/4" deep, but shallower than that and the filling would have boiled over. Drizzle the melted butter over the apples.

To prepare the crust: Whisk together the flour(s), baking powder, and salt. Add the butter, working it in till the mixture is unevenly crumbly. Add the cream or milk, drizzling it in as you mix. The lesser amount will give you a soft dough you can roll; the greater, more of a "drop biscuit" dough suitable for dropping atop the filling, rather than rolling. Your choice.
Roll the dough to fit over the apples; size will vary, depending on your casserole dish. Don't make yourself crazy trying to be exact; just get close, then squeeze off excess dough and use it to patch any bare spots once it's in the dish. Alternatively, if you've made a moister dough, dollop it atop the apples, using your wet fingers to spread it around so it more or less covers everything. Brush the crust with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired.

Tent the top of the pan with aluminum foil (don't fasten it down; just lay it atop the pan), and bake the pandowdy for 90 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake for an additional 90 minutes, until the crust is brown and the filling is bubbling. Remove it from the oven, allow it to rest for 1 hour, and serve warm. Or serve at room temperature. Or let it cool, and briefly re-warm individual portions in the microwave. Delicious with vanilla ice cream, of course, or whipped cream. Yield: 10 to 12 generous servings.

©2006 The King Arthur Flour Company, Inc.
All rights reserved.

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