Apple pandowdy

Pandowdy, a favorite in early New England for its economy and ease of preparation, and, of course, its rich apple flavor, is really a deep-dish apple pie, with a thick apple filling and no bottom crust, but it is distinguished by its choice of sweetener — molasses, rather than sugar — and its subtle blend of spices.

The recipe differs from cobbler in that you push down its biscuit-like topping into the fruit as it bakes, allowing the apple juices to bubble up through.

The origin of the word “pandowdy” is unknown, but it dates back to the early 1800s, according to Merriam-Webster. Some speculate that the name refers to the dish’s humble, plain origins (“pan” plus “dowdy”).

It is true that it does not take long to make, especially if you keep your apple peels on, as I do. But that is good, since apple pandowdy does not last long, either.

You can easily double this recipe using a 9” x 13” baking dish.


1 cup all-purpose flour

{1/4} cup whole wheat flour

{1/2} tsp. salt

1{1/2} Tbsp. butter

3 Tbsp. water


4 large Idared, Mutsu, or other apples, cored and cut in {1/4}-in. slices

{1/2} cup molasses (may substitute boiled cider or maple syrup)

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

{1/2} tsp. cinnamon

{1/4} tsp. nutmeg

{1/4} tsp. salt

dash allspice

1 Tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make crust by mixing flours and salt, then cutting in butter with a fork or pastry blender. Gradually add water and mix until dough forms.

Roll out to about the thickness of pie dough, in the shape of an 8” baking dish. Refrigerate until ready to use.

In large bowl, mix molasses, cornstarch, and spices. Add apples and stir with a wooden spoon until they are coated.

Place coated apples in 8-in. baking dish. Dot with 1 Tbsp. butter. Place dough over the top, folding in the edges. Bake for 30 minutes.

Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Remove pandowdy and cut crust into squares. Allow any juice to coat the crust by tipping the baking dish or pushing down on the crust with a spoon. (Depending on the type of apple you use, there may not be much juice at this point.)

Return baking dish to oven and bake for another 30 minutes, or until apples are soft. Press top with spoon to allow juices to cover crust. Let cool slightly before serving. Top with vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates