From NIGELLA KITCHEN by Nigella Lawson. Copyright © 2010 Nigella Lawson. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.
A pandowdy is one of those wonderful American down-home terms for a kind of pie that is ramshackle and homespun, and this is something I am always happy to live down to. It is, I'm afraid, all too easy to find that one's bought pears are never at the right point to be pleasurably eaten, and this made-in-the-pan pie, with its loose draping of unfancy dough, is better than they deserve. I bolster these fortune-favored pears with a couple of apples - cooking is the only good use for a Golden Delicious in the grown-up world, anyway - but a plain apple pandowdy, which dispenses with the pears and doubles the apples, is a fine thing, too. Indeed, many a fruit can profitably be considered here, though keep to the appley base if you're thinking of including any berries or fruit that could get too mushy or watery when heat hits them.
NIGELLA KITCHEN by Nigella Lawson. Photographs by Lis Parsons. Copyright (C) 2010 Nigella Lawson. Photographs copyright (C) 2010 Lis Parsons. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.
- 4 Bartlett pears
- 2 Golden Delicious apples
- 3 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
- ¼ cup sugar, plus ½ teaspoon for sprinkling
- finely grated zest 1 lemon
for the pastry:
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- pinch salt
- 5 tablespoons very cold butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
- ½ cup cold whole milk
- heavy cream, to serve (optional)
1 x cast iron skillet or ovenproof frying pan, 9 or 10 inches diameter
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Peel the pears and apples, then quarter them, slice out the cores, and cut the pears into ¾ inch pieces and the apples into ½ inch pieces, dropping them into a bowl as you go.
Using a skillet or frying pan that can go into the oven later, melt the 3 tablespoons soft butter over a medium heat, then add the diced fruit, sugar, and lemon zest, and cook over a lowish heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, by which time some of the fruit will have begun to caramelize gently. Take off the heat while you get on with the pastry.
Put the flour and salt into the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with the flat paddle, add the very cold cubed butter and, using a teaspoon, drop in little lumps of cold shortening, then slowly mix to cut the fat into the flour; or just do this by hand.
Still with the motor running, and the paddle turning slowly, add the milk a little at a time, just so that the dough binds, then remove from the bowl, squish it together with your hands, and drop it onto a lightly floured surface ready to roll out.
Bring the pan of cooked fruit nearby (but not so near as to warm the dough), and roll out the dough until you have a rough circle about the diameter of the skillet. Drop the dough circle on top of the fruit, tucking in the edges a bit, and remember that the ramshackle look of this is the whole point. Make 3 slashes with the tip of a sharp knife, sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of sugar, and put in the oven for 25 minutes, by which time the white dough will have turned into a pale golden crust.
Remember that the handle will be searingly hot, so transfer carefully to the table, and preferably cover the handle. Serve with heavy cream.
MAKE AHEAD NOTE
The pie can be assembled up to 2 days in advance. Make sure fruit and skillet have fully cooled before adding dough topping. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bake as directed in recipe, allowing an extra 10-15 minutes' cooking time. Check filling is piping hot before removing from oven (stick a metal skewer or tip of small knife into the pie through one of the steam vents - it should feel hot to touch).
The filling and pastry can be made 1 month ahead. Freeze filling in an airtight container, and wrap pastry in a double layer of plastic wrap and then in a resealable bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Take dough out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before rolling. Assemble pie and bake as in recipe, allowing extra 10 minutes' cooking time.