If you’ve never heard of a “Pandowdy” I am sure you’re not alone. A few years ago Martha Stewart Living did a summer issue that re-introduced some old-fashioned American fruit desserts such as the pandowdy, grunt, buckle, crumble, crisp, cobbler and brown betty. I ate them all up (literally) and was thrilled to find more excuses to scoop up all the summer fruits I could get my hands on. There is an irony however in those sort of baked fruit desserts, smothered in flaky, buttery topping, being reserved for the warmer months… I mean I guess it makes sense to use fruit when it is in season, but who needs to turn their oven up to 375 degrees in July? I am always happier to have my fresh fruit ‘as is’ in the warmer months and save things like cobblers and pies for the depth of winter: when biting into a cool crisp apple has somehow lost it’s appeal (especially as I trudge through the snow drifts and carefully pick my way over icy concrete on my way to the supermarket).
This dessert (or breakfast if you’re so inclined) was so bubbly, and tantalizingly sweet looking, as I puled it out of the oven, we could not even wait long enough to get a picture of it in it’s whole form before grabbing some spoons and digging in. Although not the prettiest to behold, find me someone who doesn’t like a generous portion of flaky warm crust smashed into their juicy, baked fruit- this is what a pandowdy is essentially- and I will be glad to eat their share.
Mango Pear Pandowdy, adapted from Veganomicon
For the Filling:
2 mangoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice (I got mine for a song at the Super 88 Market in Brighton)
2 lbs. bartlett pears, cut into a 1/2 inch dice
1/2 cup sugar (I reduced this to a 1/4 cup)
2 Tbs arrowroot or tapioca flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbs sugar for sprinkling on to of crust
1 Single Pie Crust:
1 1/2 cups flour (I use half all purpose and half whole wheat pastry, feel free to play with those proportions)
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup vegan margarine or shortening (I used the vegan buttery sticks from earth balance)
~ 1/4 cup ice cold water, added very slowly, you may need a little more or a little less.
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
Make the crust:
Before you begin, put all ingredients in the fridge- make sure everything is very coldbefore you begin. Do not use your hands to mix the dough, the heat from the will melt the shortening.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add the shortening/margarine by the teaspoon, cutting in a about a third of the total amount at a time using a pastry cutter, two knives or a food processor- pulsing and checking to see that you have not cut your shortening chunks smaller than pea-size. Cut in all shortening until the dough is crumbly and pebbly.
Combine the vinegar with 1/2 cup of water, adding it to the dough mixture in three batches, gently mixing it with a fork until the dough just comes together when pinched. Add additional cold water if you need to.
Gather the dough into a ball and gently squeeze it so it holds together. Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour form the dough into a flattened disk. Wrap the disk tightly in plastic and refrigerate while you make the filling ~ 1 hour.
Make the Filling:
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Combine all filling ingredients in a pie plate. Mix until the arrowroot/tapioca is dissolved. At this point roll out your pie crust to about 1/3 inch thick and cover the filling with the dough, tucking the edges around the fruit. Sprinkle the crust with 1 Tbs of sugar and bake for 30 minutes, then remove from oven.
Slice the crust into roughly one inch pieces and smash it into the fruit with the back of a spoon. Return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes until crust is brown and fruit is bubbling. Serve warm.