Apple Pandowdy

Apple Pandowdy

The girl who runs Revolutionary Pie writes: According to John Mariani in The Dictionary of American Food and Drink, pandowdy was first mentioned in print in 1805. The dessert turned up decades later in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Blithedale Romance” (1852):

“Hollingsworth [would] fill my plate from the great dish of pan-dowdy.”

In the meantime, it was supposedly a favorite of Abigail and John Adams, although a recipe I saw attributed to Abigail has a pastry-dough crust, not a biscuit topping. Which is a true pandowdy? I don’t think anyone really knows for sure.

Apple Pandowdy

Adapted from Eleanor Early’s “The New England Cookbook”

4 cups apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (about 4-5 apples)
½ cup apple cider
½ tsp. cinnamon
⅛ tsp cloves
⅛ tsp. nutmeg
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ cup butter


[1] Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 1½-quart or other deep baking dish. Arrange apple slices in the dish and pour the cider over them. Mix the spices with the sugar and sprinkle that mixture over the apples. Dot with the butter.

[2] Make biscuit dough (see recipe below). Roll out the dough about ½-inch thick on a floured surface. Cut a round from the dough slightly smaller than the baking dish and place on top of the apple mixture. Make several slits in the dough with a knife so that steam can escape.

[3] Bake pandowdy in the preheated oven until the apples are tender and the crust is golden brown, about 30-35 minutes. Before serving, cut up the crust a little, pushing it down into the apples. Serve warm, with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.

Pandowdy Cut Up

Biscuit Dough (Also from The New England Cookbook)

2 cups flour
5 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
¼ cup butter, cold, cut into small squares
¾ cup whole milk


[1] Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter until it is the size of small peas.

[2] Add milk and stir gently until well absorbed, and the dough forms a rough ball.

[3] Place the dough on a floured board and knead briefly. Continue as directed above. (If any dough remains after you’ve cut out your pandowdy top, you can cut it into small rounds and bake on an ungreased baking sheet at 450° F for about 12 minutes.)