Crisps, Cobblers and Pandowdies — old-fashioned summertime fruit desserts
With their basic ingredients, rustic appearance and easy, improvisational preparation techniques, down-home crisps, cobblers and pandowdies are perfect for leisurely summertime dining.
Their origins can be traced back to colonial America where, out of necessity, home cooks relied on the contents of their pantries and ingredients from the fields and orchards for preparing meals. That’s why the ingredient lists for these desserts are deliciously simple — relying on staples like butter, flour and sugar, plus the season’s freshest, locally grown fruit.
Fruit ideas: Use this basic filling recipe as a guide to creating your favorite flavor combinations — with plenty of room for experimentation. Feel free to adjust the sweetener depending upon the tartness of the fruit. You can even mix and match different fruits (peach-blueberry or cherry-apricot) and add your favorite spices to further enhance the dessert’s flavor.
Topping ideas: Fruit may give these desserts their bright flavors, but it’s the fresh-baked toppings that give each one a unique personality. From crisp and crumbly to cakelike biscuits, these toppings offer a contrasting texture and flavor to their smooth and juicy fruit fillings: Crumb topping for crisps and crumbles, Biscuit topping for cobblers, Pie topping for pandowdies.
- 5 1/2 cups berries or pitted, sliced stone fruits Add to list
- 2 tablespoons tapioca, arrowroot or flour to thicken juicy fruits Add to list
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice Add to list
- 1 teaspoon almond extract Add to list
- Sweetener to taste — up to 1/2 cup honey or 2/3 cup maple syrup, or up to 1 cup date, brown, white or unbleached and unrefined sugar Add to list
- One or two optional spices — 3/4 tablespoon cinnamon, 1/4 tablespoon allspice, 1/4 tablespoon nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves Add to list
Stir ingredients together in a bowl, then pour into a glass baking dish, taking care not to overfill so juices will not overflow.
For crumb topping or biscuit topping
Add all ingredients to a bowl and work mixture through with a fork until well combined. Sprinkle crumb topping or drop biscuit topping evenly over the fruit base. Bake at 375º F for about 45 minutes until the fruit starts to bubble and the top starts to brown.
For pie topping for pandowdies
Sift flour, salt and sugar into a food processor. Add butter and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Add vanilla extract and two tablespoons ice water (more, if needed) and continue pulsing until dough pulls together. Form into a disk, wrap in wax paper and refrigerate until chilled.
Roll out dough and lay over the fruit mixture, tucking the edges under the fruit. Bake at 400º F for 30 to 35 minutes and then lower the temperature to 350º F.
Remove baking dish from oven, slice crust into 2-inch squares crosswise and gently press crust into filling so juices flow over squares. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes, until crust is golden.
As the dish cools, the liquid will be absorbed by the crust to form a pudding-like consistency.
Source: Sound Consumer July 2006
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