Flawless pastry crusts are expected when you are making a lattice-top or double-crust pie, but if you’re in need of a more forgiving fruit dessert, look to the pandowdy. Popular in the 1800s and early 1900s, it is essentially cooked fruit under a pastry crust. But unlike a cobbler, the cook uses a fork to break, or “dowdy” the crust. As the dish cools, the broken crust absorbs the sweet juices from the cooked fruit, creating a deliciously messy dessert. While developing this recipe, Test Kitchen Professional Deb Wise was reminded of a favorite childhood dessert. Made with gooseberries, boysenberries, or blackberries, the dessert had a double crust that Deb’s grandmother would “break open to let the juices bubble up and over it.” Deb adds her own twist to the pandowdy by using plump nectarines and cherries and a pretty patchwork-style crust, thick enough so that it doesn’t disappear into the filling.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening
4-5 tablespoons ice water
2 1/2 pounds nectarines, unpeeled and sliced
1 1/2 pounds fresh cherries, pitted
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon lemon zest plus 2 Tbsp. fresh juice (from 1 lemon)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons water
How to Make It
Prepare the Crust: Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor; pulse until combined, 2 to 3 times. Add butter and shortening; pulse until mixture resembles small pebbles, 3 to 4 times. Drizzle in 4 tablespoons of the ice water; pulse until mixture begins to clump, 3 to 4 times, adding remaining 1 tablespoon of water, 1 teaspoon at a time as needed. Transfer mixture to a lightly floured work surface; knead until mixture is incorporated, 3 to 4 times. Shape into a 7- x 5-inch rectangle; cover with plastic wrap, and chill 1 hour.
Prepare the Filling: Combine nectarines, cherries, sugar, flour, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt in a bowl; toss well. Spread mixture into a lightly greased (with cooking spray) 11- x 8-inch baking dish. Preheat oven to 400°F.
Roll dough into a 12-inch square (dough will be thick). Cut dough into 16 (3-inch) squares. Arrange squares over top of fruit in patchwork fashion, slightly overlapping edges. Whisk together yolk and water in a small bowl. Brush top of dough with egg mixture. Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes.
Without removing pandowdy from oven, reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake until Filling is thick and bubbly and Crust is golden, 25 to 30 minutes. (Cover after 15 minutes, if needed, to prevent overbrowning.) Cool 30 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.