FOOD AND THE CITY

Here's an easy-to-make Valentine's Day dessert

There isn’t a clear story about the origins of pandowdy, and sometimes what constitutes the dish itself is inconsistent — in fact, you’ll come across cobblers that have adopted the name.

Traditionally, a pandowdy is made of fruit and pastry, yet it's not a pie or galette

Traditionally, a pandowdy is made of fruit and pastry, yet it’s not a pie or galette. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

There isn't a clear story about the origins of pandowdy, and sometimes what constitutes the dish itself is inconsistent — in fact, you'll come across cobblers that have adopted the name.

Traditionally, a pandowdy is made of fruit and pastry, yet it's not a pie or galette. The fruits of your choice are either simmered first or simply tossed with sugar in a pie plate or baking dish before being topped with pieces of pastry and baked.

Early versions had a spoon break into the crust part way through cooking, pushing shards of crust into the fruit to soak up some of the bubbling juices.

Nowadays, most versions call for the fruit to be topped haphazardly with strips or pieces of pastry, which is ridiculously easy to do — you can start with thawed puff pastry or a small batch of from-scratch pastry, and cut or tear it into pieces to lay overtop.

Our food columnist suggests a pandowdy as a sweet treat for your loved one. It's part pie, part fruit crisp and delicious. 5:09

And if the occasion is Valentine's Day, you can cut the pastry into hearts before laying it over the fruit — a fun way to get kids involved in making a special dessert.

Since the finished pandowdy is served by the spoonful, you don't have to stress about it setting, or cutting a slice as you would with pie. And really, the top crust is the best part of a pie anyway.

Berry pandowdy

Frozen fruit is fine for pandowdy, and you can combine them. I used cherries, blueberries, blackberries and rhubarb, since that's what I had in my freezer. Apples are also particularly tasty, if not as colourful and Valentine's Day-ish.

Toss it with sugar (and add some cinnamon, cardamom or lemon or orange zest, if you're so inspired) and a spoonful of flour, only if you have juicy fruit.

The fruits of your choice are either simmered ahead or simply tossed with sugar in a pie plate or baking dish before being topped with pieces of pastry and baked. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

Ingredients

  • 5-6 cups berries, cherries, chopped rhubarb or sliced apples or ripe pears. Sugar to taste (about 1/3 cup; more for tart fruit, less for sweet).
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour (if you're using juicy berries — you won't really need it with apples).
  • 1/2 pkg thawed puff pastry, or pastry for a single crust pie.
  • Beaten egg or cream, for brushing coarse (or regular) sugar for sprinkling.
Cut the pastry into hearts before laying it over the fruit — a fun way to get kids involved in making a special dessert. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Spread your fruit into a deep-dish pie plate or similar-sized baking dish.

In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and flour and sprinkle overtop.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out ¼-inch thick and cut into heart shapes or tear into pieces an inch or two long and half as wide.

Scatter the pastry pieces haphazardly, overlapping over the fruit. Brush with beaten egg or cream, and if you like, sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the fruit is soft and bubbling and the pastry is golden. Serve warm, with ice cream.

Serves six-ish.

About the Author

Julie Van Rosendaal

Calgary Eyeopener's food guide

Julie Van Rosendaal talks about food trends, recipes and cooking tips on the Calgary Eyeopener every Tuesday at 8:20 a.m. MT. The best-selling cookbook author is a contributing food editor for the Globe and Mail, and writes for other publications across Canada.