Food & Drink

Your New Fall Dessert: Apple Pandowdy

Scraps of dough top warm apples for a casual, comforting treat to share

Photo: Mark Weinberg

“A pandowdy’s a pie that’s got only a top crust, often one made of odd-shaped pieces of dough,” writes the author Dorie Greenspan in her new cookbook, Baking with Dorie. “The dessert was probably created to put pastry scraps to good use. My favorite way to make it is to cut triangles of pie dough and arrange them in a mishmash over the fruit. Neatness is never the point with a pandowdy—it’s the haphazardness, the dowdiness of the pie, that makes it beautiful. When you bring it to the table, break up the crust, let it fall into the filling and then spoon out into bowls.

You can put spices in the filling, but I hope you’ll try this spare lemon-up-front version first. Having apple pie without cinnamon may seem un-American; in fact, it’s unassailably good. I make this dessert throughout the year with whatever fruits are plentiful.”

Read our interview with Greenspan about baking, memories of the South, and biscuits.


  • Apple Pandowdy (Yield: 6 Servings)

    • 1 batch filling (recipe follows)

    • 1 pie crust (recipe follows)

    • Ice cream or whipped cream for serving

  • For the filling

    • ⅓ cup (67 grams) sugar

    • 2 medium or 1 large lemon

    • About 2½ lb. sweet, juicy apples, such as Golden Delicious, Fuji or Gala (4 to 6 large apples)

    • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

  • For the crust

    • One 11- to 12-inch round All-Butter Pie Dough (see below), frozen or well chilled (or use store-bought pie dough; look for dough that’s already rolled out)

    • Milk for brushing

    • Sanding or granulated sugar for dusting

  • For the All-Butter Pie Dough (Makes two 9- to 9½- inch crusts)

    • 3 cups (408 grams) all-purpose flour

    • ¼ cup (50 grams) sugar

    • 1½ tsp. fine sea salt

    • 2 sticks (8 ounces; 226 grams) unsalted butter, frozen or very cold, cut into small pieces

    • Up to ½ cup (120 ml) ice water


  1. For the filling: Put the sugar in a large bowl and grate the zest from the lemon(s) over it. Reach into the bowl and use your fingers to rub the zest into the sugar until the sugar is moist and fragrant.

  2. Peel and core the apples and cut them into chunks about ½ inch on a side or into slices that are about ¼ inch thick. Add the apples to the bowl with the sugar and squeeze over the juice from the lemon(s). Toss everything around in the bowl until the apples are coated with sugar and juice. Set the bowl aside, stirring now and then, while you preheat the oven.

  3. Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 425 degrees. Butter a 9-inch pie pan and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking mat.

  4. Give the apples a last turn and then pile them into the pie pan—don’t forget the juices in the bowl. Dot the top of the apples with the butter.

  5. For the All-Butter Pie Dough: Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse to blend. Scatter the pieces of butter over the flour and pulse the machine in long spurts until the butter is well incorporated. This could take more than a dozen blitzes. Add the ice water a little at time, processing after each addition. Stop when you have moist clumps and curds (you may not need all of the water)—don’t process until the dough forms a ball; pinch a bit of the dough, and it should hold together easily. Turn the dough out, divide it in half and shape each half into a disk.

  6. Working with one disk at a time, flour a sheet of parchment paper, center the dough on it, flour the dough and cover with a second sheet. Roll the dough into a round that’s between 11 and 12 inches in diameter. (The rolled-out dough can be wrapped well and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months).

  7. If the dough is cold enough, fit it into a buttered pie pan (or the pan you’re using); leaving whatever dough hangs over the edge. If it’s not cold, chill it until it’s workable, then fit it into the pan. Keep the second round between the sheets of paper and slide it onto a baking sheet. Freeze or refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (If you have not refrigerated or frozen the rolled-out dough earlier, you can refrigerate the unbaked crust for up to 3 days or freeze it for up to 2 months.) Piecrust should always be cold when it goes into the oven.

  8. To assemble the Pandowdy: Lay the chilled round of pie dough on a cutting board and, using a pizza wheel or a knife, cut it into pieces. I usually opt for triangles of various sizes and shapes, but long strips and squares work, as do rounds made with cookie cutters. Place the pieces of dough over the apples in whatever pattern pleases you—I usually go for haphazard. It’s nice if you leave a little space between the pieces so the juices can bubble over. Lightly brush the dough with milk and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

  9. Bake the pandowdy for 20 minutes—the crust might get a little color and the juices may just begin to bubble. Turn the heat down to 375 degrees F and continue to bake until you can see juices bubbling all the way to the middle of the pan, 25 to 35 minutes more. If the crust seems to be getting too dark too fast, loosely tent the pandowdy with foil or parchment.

  10. Place the baking sheet on a rack and let the pandowdy cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. The pandowdy is good warm or at room temperature and very good with either ice cream or whipped cream.

  11. A WORD ON THE CRUST: Instead of cutting out shapes from the dough, you can also just lay the whole crust over the fruit, moistening the rim of the pie pan first, pressing the dough against the rim and then tucking the overhang under the rim or against the sides of the pan. Cut slits in the crust and at serving time, crack the crust into the fruit.

  12. STORING: Like most pies, this is meant to be eaten soon after it’s made. However, if you have pandowdy left over, you can keep it covered at room temperature for up to 1 day and rewarm it in a 350-degree-F oven before serving.

  13. PLAYING AROUND: In fall and winter, I make pandowdy with apples and pears (traditional and my favorite), sometimes with dried fruit tossed in. In the spring, I make it with rhubarb, with or without strawberries. And in summer, I turn to blueberries or mixed berries, peaches, nectarines, even plums. Use your favorite fruit pie filling recipe, but don’t use any thickeners.

Excerpted from Baking With Dorie: Sweet, Salty, & Simple © 2021 by Dorie Greenspan. Photography © 2021 by Mark Weinberg. Reproduced by permission of Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.