Monday, March 23, 2009

Apple Rhubarb Pandowdy

Apple-Rhubarb Pandowdy

Apple-Rhubarb Pandowdy

Spring is here, and i'm feeling a renewed energy for cooking and baking. I've been revisiting old cookbooks, circling recipes I never thought i'd want to make. I've been checking out library cookbooks 30 pounds at a time, exploring topics like seasonal cooking, farmers markets, and kitchen gardens.

Rhubarb will be in season soon, and I'm trying to expand my repertoire ahead of time. I never had rhubarb until two years ago, so I find it particularly exciting. I love the tartness it adds, especially when combined with strawberries, apples, and other sweet fruits.

People have polarized opinions on rhubarb, which I don't find surprising. I really dislike rhubarb in a few cases:

1. The rhubarb flavor gets completely masked by sugar or orange juice/zest
2. The rhubarb is overcooked, stringy, and falling apart
3. The overall texture of the dessert is mushy and liquidy

Many fruit pies, cobblers, and crisps are plagued by similar problems. That said, a seasonal, ripe fruit dessert is heaven, and I think i'm getting the hang of picking desserts that suit my taste.

This pandowdy's flavor was so well balanced that I was willing to overlook the liquidy filling. The fruit is sweetened with maple syrup instead of sugar, and it's topped with a crisp, browned pie crust. The sweetener and spices are subtle, so the filling still tastes tartly of rhubarb and apple. A pandowdy gets its name from the "dowdy-ing" of the pastry crust:

1. not stylish; drab; old-fashioned
2. not neat or tidy; shabby

If you wanted a more attractive dessert, you could bake individual servings in ramekins or teacups. I rather like its homey appearance though. The recipe says to serve this warm, but I also like it chilled, for breakfast. The baking time and quality of ingredients really affect the finished recipe, so try not to overbake!

Apple Rhubarb Pandowdy
adapted from Deborah Madison's Local Flavors

10 oz pie dough (enough to fit a 9 inch pie pan)
4 large gala apples, peeled and cored
1 pound rhubarb
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground clove
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp unsalted butter
cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Lightly butter a 2 quart square or oval baking dish (a 7x11 pyrex works well).

2. Quarter the apples and slice crosswise about 1/4 inch thick. Dice the rhubarb into 1/2 inch pieces. If the stalks are very wide, slice them lengthwise in half first. You should have 7-8 cups fruit. Toss the fruit with the spices, flour, and salt, then add the maple syrup and toss thoroughly. Distribute the fruit in the dish and dot with the butter.

3. Roll our the dough about 1/8 inch thick and cut it about 3/4 inch wider than your dish. Lay the dough over the fruit, tucking the edges into the fruit. Bake until the crust is light gold, 30-35 minutes. Lower the heat to 350F.

4. Remove the pandowdy from the oven and slice the crust into 2-inch squares in a crisscross fashion. Using a spatula, gently press down on the crust, allowing the juices to flow up and over it. Don't worry if there isn't much juice. Return the dish to the oven and continue to bake until the crust is really golden and glazed, another 20-30 minutes. Once or twice, brush the juices over the dough. Serve warm with cream or vanilla ice cream.


finsmom said...

I am having a serious rhubarb craving right now! This looks heavenly!

Thanks for sharing!

Em said...

I discovered rhubarb around the same time you did and am similarly enamored.

Anonymous said...

That Deborah Madison book is a great resource for fresh veggies and fruit. I almost bought it at the store but my bookshelf can't take another book. I am not completely sold on rhubarb but I can't wait to try it again. Spring totally reinvigorates the kitchen mojo...

kickpleat said...

I have rhubarb that I blanched from last summer in the freezer. This looks lovely and the name sounds so home-spun sweet.

Tartelette said...

I have been catching up on our blog and postings and I have to say I am more and more enamoured with your pics. You do darks against lights brilliantly.
Love rhubarb just barely cooked, when it still had that little bite under the tooth but this sounds delicious!

Erin Phraner - Berry said...

One of my closest family friends LOVES rhubarb but it's probably SO much better with the apples. Great color. Can't wait to try this! Thank you

Hey said...

I never knew what a pandowdy was....thanks for enlightening me..looks delicious.

Monica said...

You can make it less liquidy by mixing some flour and sugar and spooning that into the bottom of your baking dish prior to baking. It's a trick I use for al lot of rhubarb desserts and it works like a charm!

violarulz/ducksandbooks said...

you can also make it less liquidy by adding a heaping tablespoon of tapioca flour to the fruit. it makes it pretty and glossy too