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I’m pretty sure fall just started, like, a couple days ago, but this past weekend was our last chance to go apple picking at a favorite local farm. We grabbed about thirty granny smiths, which are one of the best late season baking apples. These also cellar well, which means we’ll have crisp local apples through the end of the year (or well, at least through Thanksgiving).
When I’m baking in season, I usually like to use a random combination of apples. Sometimes I keep track of what I’m using, but more often, just grab six or seven that look different and throw them all together.
Next year, my goal is to actually keep track of what apple types we pick and do some flavor testing. I generally know which apple to save for eating (gingergold, honeycrisp, sweetango) and which I’d rather use for baking (fuji, jonamac, granny smith). But it’s hard to keep them all straight!
In this pandowdy, I didn’t pay that much attention to the specific types. I think there’s an empire in there, which has a dark almost purple waxy skin and a crisp white flesh. A bowl of empires looks great in the middle of your table.
In any fruit bake, you want good fruit, but what makes them all unique is how you handle the topping. A pandowdy is kind of like an upside-down and deconstructed pie. You use a standard pie crust (my favorite is the all-butter pie crust from Sweeter Off the Vine by Yossy Arefi) and place it on top only, breaking apart the pieces so the juices flow over the crust.
I love pandowdies because they don’t need to look perfect. Pies to me are all about fancy lattice crusts, rosettes, and perfectly crimped edges. They slice beautifully and hold their shape on the place. With a pandowdy, you get that yummy crust flavor without the stress.
Using a cast iron pan adds to the rustic feel, and serving with a dollop of freshly whipped cream or a scoop of slow-churned vanilla bean ice cream makes this a dessert so rich and flavorful, your guests won’t even care that it didn’t have a lattice.
Apple Cranberry Pandowdy
- 3.5 lbs Apples about 6-7, cut into quarter inch slices
- 1 cup Cranberries fresh, or thawed if frozen
- 1/3 cup Brown sugar packed
- 3 Tbsp All-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp Lemon juice
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp Cloves
- 1/4 tsp Allspice
- 2-3 Tbsp Butter cut into pats
- 1 Pie crust
- 1 Tbsp Milk
- 2 tsp Turbinado sugar
- Prepare your favorite pie crust (see recipe notes for mine) as instructed in the recipe, and set aside. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, mix the apples and cranberries together. Top with brown sugar, flour, lemon juice, and spices. Toss until well combined, and transfer the apple mixture to a cast iron skillet, and dot with the pats of butter
- Roll out the pie crust until it's large enough to fit over your skillet. Then top in one of two ways: Either place the entire crust over top the filling, and use a sharp knife to cut a tiles into the crust, or cut it into 1-inch tiles first, and scatter those over the top of the filling.
- Brush the top of the crust pieces with milk, and sprinkle evenly with the turbinado sugar. Bake for 1 hour, or until the filling is bubbling, and the crust is golden brown on top.
- Let cool for at least 20-30 minutes. Serve warm with fresh whipped cream or a scoop of cinnamon ice cream. This is best served immediately, but will keep covered tightly in plastic wrap at room temperature for a couple days. Just warm in the microwave before serving.
- Use your favorite buttery pie crust recipe for this pandowdy. A good tasting crust makes a huge difference. I recommended the All Butter Pie Crust from the cookbook Sweeter Off the Vine by Yossy Arefi.
- Don't worry too much about the appearance. Unlike pies, pandowdies are supposed to be a little disheveled. It adds to that homey character!
- If you're not a fan of cranberries, you can leave them out, and add in an extra apple cut into slices.
- For the apples, I use a mix of local upstate NY apples, but you can use any that you can easily find that are good for baking. Granny smiths, galas, and pink ladies are some good choices.