It's that time of year for all those soupy, sweet fruit crisps, slumps, buckles, and pan dowdies. This past week, SB and I harvested wild cranberries that grow in a boggy area near our home. SB put his muck boots on and I picked from the edge of the road along an old turnpike near the house. We came away with enough berries for me to make a few loaves of cranberry nut bread or some cranberry sauce or this dessert!
When you harvest cranberries, you float the berries in water to clean them of the tiny leaves and grassy stems that cling to them.
Then, the berries dry on trays lined with paper towels. I left them in the sun on the back porch for three or four days so they would continue to color up. Then, they were packed into bags and popped into the freezer.
While working with the fresh cranberries, I got thinking about these pretty Seckel pears that were sitting on the counter top. Pears and berries go well together. I researched tart recipes, but found this Cranberry and Pear Pan Dowdy recipe in a cook book called Sweeter Off the Vine by Yossy Arefi. I used those little Seckels, the last of last winter's frozen cranberries, and a small bag of this year's wild blueberries to make a pan dowdy fit for a king!
Sugary fruit with cinnamon and ginger and tossed with (get this!) maple syrup. Oh my goodness ... it made for some flavour! Tart sweetness with vanilla ice cream made for the best dessert! Lick the plate good ... no kidding!
To boot, this pan dowdy was fun to assemble. I have this tiny biscuit cutter that was perfect for making the embellished pie crust topper of the pan dowdy (which is what make a dowdy a dowdy). This crust was special though ... full of wheat germ and whole wheat flour to make a more rustic take on the dessert. I adapted Arefi's crust, in that she uses rye flour in her crust. That seemed a bit too rustic for my taste.
Given an egg glaze and a sprinkle of Muscovado sugar crystals, it was ready for the oven ... 40 minutes later .... Voila! Crack open the vanilla ice cream and dig in!
Pear and Cranberry Pan Dowdy
adapted from a Yossy Arefi recipe
4 Seckel pears, quartered cored and chopped into small chunks
3 c. frozen cranberries
1 c. frozen wild blueberries
1/2 c. dried cranberries, soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes, drained
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 c. maple syrup (real stuff)
whole wheat pie crust recipe for a single crust (recipe follows)
1 egg, beaten
Muscovado sugar for sprinkling
Making the Pan Dowdy:
1. Combine all the fruit filling ingredients except the maple syrup in a deep bowl and toss to distribute the spices and cornstarch.
2. Roll out half the pie crust recipe on a chilled and floured work space and cut shapes.
3. Butter a 10 inch casserole pan.
4. Pour the maple syrup over the fruit mixture and gently mix it to dampen everything well. Turn the fruit mix into the casserole dish.
5. Lay the crust shapes onto the top of the fruit mix, overlapping them just a bit.
6. Beat an egg in a small bowl and brush the crust. Sprinkle on some Muscovado sugar crystals.
7. Bake in the center f a 375 degree F oven for 40 to 45 minutes. The fruit will be bubbly and the crust golden brown and crisped.
8. Serve warm with a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream. Heaven!
Whole Wheat Pie Crust
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. wheat germ
1 tsp. salt
2/3 plus 2 tbsp. cold butter or vegetable shortening
about 7 tbsp. ice cold water ( or drop by drop more to make a dough that comes together in a ball)
Making the Crust:
1. Whisk together the flours, wheat germ and salt.
2. Cut in the butter or shortening, using two knives to cut the fat to small beads.
3. Using a fork to toss the dough together, add a couple tablespoons of ice cold water at a time, tossing well between additions. When the dough holds together, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge for at least an hour (or in the freezer for 20 minutes).
4. This recipe makes enough for a two crust pie or two pan dowdy recipes.