While the “pan” part of pandowdy is obvious (it’s basically an apple pie cooked in a skillet), the whole “dowdy” part remains unclear. We’ll just go with the popular theory that it’s basically a cute adaptation of the word dough. While we highly recommend trying one out for yourself in the historic confines of Boston’s Durgin-Park restaurant, where squares of buttery crust are pressed into a simmering apple filling part-way through cooking to soak up the spiced sauce, you can make our interpretation of this New England classic right at home. This recipe first appeared in our December 2014 issue with the story Boston Uncommon.
- 1 cup flour, plus more for dusting
- 15 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
- 3⁄4 cup plus 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 3 tbsp. ice-cold water
- 1⁄4 cup unsweetened apple cider
- 3 tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp. molasses
- 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1⁄2 tsp. ground cloves
- 12 semisweet apples, such as Fuji, cored, peeled, and sliced into ½″ wedges
- 2 tbsp. heavy cream
- Vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)
- Pulse flour, 12 tbsp. butter, 1 tbsp. sugar, the baking powder, and ½ tsp. salt in a food processor into pea-size crumbles. With the motor running, add water; pulse until dough forms. Form dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap; chill 30 minutes.
- Heat oven to 375°. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough ⅙” thick; trim edges to make a 9″ square. Cut dough into 3″ squares; chill until ready to use. Stir remaining butter, sugar, and salt, the cider, cornstarch, molasses, lemon juice, cinnamon, cloves, and apples in a 12″ cast-iron skillet; simmer over medium-high for 10 minutes. Arrange dough squares over apples and brush with cream; bake 20 minutes. Using a spoon, press the crust into the filling; bake until top is golden, 18–20 minutes. Serve with ice cream, if you like.