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Pandowdies, Grunts, and Buckles - Oh My!

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Written by foodie pam   
Sunday, 27 September 2009
List of viewable recipes from "Rustic Fruit Desserts" by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson

Photo by Sara Remington (c) 2009
While we don't really need to eat dessert every night, we should try to treat ourselves once in a while. And if we can work in a bit of healthy into that baked splurge of a dessert all the better right?  Baked desserts made with fruit fit that bill for me. Sure they have added sugar, flour, butter and other baked good items, but they also have fruit!  Its gotta be better than not having fruit, right? Well at least that's what I've been telling myself. And after you check out these absolutely luscious fruit desserts from "Rustic Fruit Desserts" by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson you'll likely be playing the 'but it's fruit card!" yourself too.

Rustic Fruit Desserts had me with the cover - about the only thing that would have made that Gingered Pear and Raspberry Pandowdy more appealing would have been a taste me button.  Now if you're asking "what's a pandowdy?" you're not alone. I had no clue before they told me either (Essentially, it's a deep-dish fruit dessert with a crumbled biscuit topping.)  It's also not the only unusual name you'll find in Rustic Fruit Desserts. You'll also learn about grunts, fools, buckles and slumps.  

Photo by Sara Remington (c) 2009
Rustic Fruit Desserts is broken down by season with a pretty varied selection for each season's fruit.  Over the summer I had an excess of peaches and Carolyn Jung kindly directed me to Cory and Julie's Stone Fruit Tea Cake.  This fall as much of my apple tree's bounty as possible is going directly into their Apple and Rhubarb Pandowdy (see below) and their Apple Crisp with Brandy-Soaked Currants. And for the fall pears? The upside-down pear chocolate cake (see below) puts pineapple upside-down cake to shame.  I'm almost afraid to see what delights winter and spring will provide, although I continue to tell myself the desserts have fruit in them so why not right?

As enchanted as I am with Rustic Fruit Desserts, one thing that's caught my attention is the recommendation to eat many of the dishes the first day as they don't hold well. While these desserts are really good, and even though they have fruit, I really don't want to eat the whole thing the first day (well ok I may want to but I really really shouldn't).  This isn't the case with all of the recipes though. And even though the desserts may be their best the first night, they are still good the next night, just not quite as amazing which, for me, is fine as at least that way I won't over indulge two nights in a row. You'll have to try some of the recipes for yourself to see whether or not you will…


Upside-down Pear Chocolate Cake

Reprinted from Rustic Fruit Desserts: Crumbles, Buckles, Cobblers, Pandowdies, and More by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson.  Copyright (c) 2009.  Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group, Inc. 

Chocolate and pears make an excellent combination. Here, bittersweet chocolate and sweet pears meld together to form the perfect balance. For this recipe, you can either take a rustic approach and toss the pears haphazardly into the pan or opt for a more elegant look by arranging the pears in concentric circles. Look for a good dark chocolate, which is not the same as unsweetened chocolate. Also, there are two kinds of unsweetened cocoa on the market; be sure to use unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa, not natural cocoa. When combined with baking soda, natural cocoa can impart a bitter taste to baked goods and cause them to rise too much.

Baking time: 40 to 45 minutes

Serves 12 to 15 

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature, for pan

Fruit Topping
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored, and each cut into 12 slices (1 pound prepped)

Butter a 9-inch round baking pan.

To make the fruit topping, put the sugar and water in a heavy saucepan (one with a tight-fitting lid) and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then cover and cook for 2 minutes. (Covering in this way allows the steam to wash down the sides of pan, which will prevent any sugar crystals from forming.) Uncover the saucepan and continue to boil the sugar, gently and slowly swirling the pan as needed to cook the caramel evenly, until it becomes a dark amber color. Occasionally wash down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Carefully pour the caramel into the prepared pan and allow it to harden. The pan will be very hot from the sugar, so take care in moving it if you need to. Fan the pear slices on top of the caramel in a circle around the perimeter, filling in the center with the remaining slices.


  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (1 ounce) unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

To make the cake, place the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat and melt, stirring occasionally. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl. Transfer the melted chocolate to a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and add the sugar. Using a handheld mixer with beaters or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the milk in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour and scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cake bounces back slightly when touched. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto a plate, leaving the pan on top of the cake for 5 minutes before you remove it. Serve the cake warm, topped with a small dollop of Chantilly cream or a scoop of Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

Storage: Wrapped in plastic wrap, the cake will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Apple and Rhubarb Pandowdy

Reprinted from Rustic Fruit Desserts: Crumbles, Buckles, Cobblers, Pandowdies, and More by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson.  Copyright (c) 2009.  Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group, Inc.  

This pandowdy brings together the last apples of winter and the first spring rhubarb, bridging the seasons in a dessert. The smooth, balanced taste of apples cuts the tart, sassy bite of rhubarb, which might otherwise scare away someone unfamiliar with rhubarb from tucking into this delicious pandowdy.

Baking time: 45 to 50 minutes  

Serves 8 to 10

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature, for pan
1/4 recipe (1 disk) All-Butter Pie Pastry 

3 to 4 tart apples, peeled, cored, quartered, and sliced 1/2 inch thick (1 pound prepped)
1 3/4 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and sliced 1/2 inch thick (5 cups or 1 1/4 pounds prepped)
Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
3/4 cup packed (5 3/4 ounces) brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, for serving (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Butter a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan or cast-iron skillet or a 9-inch square baking pan.
Toss the apples, rhubarb, lemon zest, and lemon juice together in a large bowl. Separately, rub together the brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt, then add to the fruit mixture and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan.

Roll out the pie pastry to roughly the size of the pan. Top the apples and rhubarb with the pastry, tucking in any excess pastry between the fruit and the side of the pan. This is a rustic dessert, so there is no need to spend any extra time making it look fancy; the beauty lies in its rough look. Cut a few steam vents in the crust, then place the pandowdy on a baking sheet to collect any drips. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350°F and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the fruit is bubbling around the edges or through the steam vents.

Cool the pandowdy for 1 hour before serving, topped with a scoop of Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

Storage: Covered with a tea towel, the pandowdy will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.

About Rustic Fruit Desserts

ImageAn early fall cobbler with blackberries bubbling in their juice beneath a golden cream biscuit. A crunchy oatmeal crisp made with mid-summer's sweet nectarines and raspberries. Or a comforting pear bread pudding made with brioche to soften a harsh winter's day. In Rustic Fruit Desserts, James Beard Award-winning chef Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson, owner of Baker & Spice, share their repertoire of classic fruit desserts, including crumbles, crisps, Betty's, buckles, and pies that showcases the freshest in-season fruit available. Simple, scrumptious, and always a cherished favorite, these heritage desserts are (thankfully) experiencing a long-due revival.

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Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 14 October 2009 )
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