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How to Make Old Fashioned Apple Pandowdy

Watch the Old Fashioned Apple Pandowdy recipe video

Here’s an Apple Pandowdy recipe that is easy to make, especially if you are new to making pie crust. As the name implies, the crust topping is dowdy. That means untidy, and that’s the secret. All you do is top your apples with a lot of little pieces of pie crust. Nothing fancy. And that’s what makes this crust foolproof!

Affiliates note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. My content may contain affiliate links to products and services. If you click through and make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission. It does not affect the price you pay.

The Secret to an Apple Pandowdy Crust Topping

This apple pandowdy recipe dates back to the 18th century—and maybe even earlier. It was a favorite dessert of First Lady Abigail Adams, who was the wife of John Adams, the second President of the United States.

This type of recipe was popular in the early American days because home cooks often didn’t have the best ingredients to make a pie crust. But a dowdy crust was easy to make because there was no special technique involved in rolling out the crust. However, there was an even more important reason this technique was a favorite among homemakers.

Since the crust may not have been made out of the best ingredients, the dowdy thatched-like topping allowed all the wonderful apple juices to seep to the top of the pie. These juices then infused the crust with flavor and a delightfully caramelized texture.

In addition, the uneven topping hid any imperfections the crust might have started with, and instead, it created a tasty dessert that gave the impression of a fine pastry!

Apples in July!

You might be wondering why I am making an apple pandowdy in July. First of all, I thought it would be fun to make a recipe that was a favorite of one of our founding mothers, but also because apples are in season right now.

Well, they are in season if you live in or around central Texas and other regions where temperatures soar in the summer. By July, the apples are ready here in Texas, and they will continue to come into season through October in the other parts of the United States.

But the good news is that you really can make this apple pandowdy any time of the year because we are so blessed to be able to find apples at most grocery stores through the seasons. Lucky us!

However, if you are like me, and you like to cook fruits and vegetables when they are in season and at their peak, you can be pretty certain that starting in July and going into the fall, you will be able to find apples in your grocery store that are in season from various regions of the U.S.

So if you see apples in July in the produce section on your next shopping trip, check the tag and see if they are from Texas!

More Early American Recipes

Learn how to make early American drinks to help you celebrate Independence Day. They will be refreshing as you stroll around in your tricorn hat!

These early American drinks include Switchels and Shrubs. Both are tasty beverages to enjoy along with your apple pandowdy.

How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

One of the ingredients for the apple pandowdy’s pie crust is vanilla extract. If you’d like to make your own “perpetual” vanilla extract instead of having to use a store-bought extract, I show you easy the process is in my Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract recipe video.

Grind Your Own Flour with the Mockmill

Have you ever thought of grinding your own grain? How nice it would be to have freshly milled flour to make the crust for this apple pandowdy or any other baked good!

When it comes to electric grain mills, after I did A LOT of research, I decided to buy a Mockmill. And am I so happy I did! The Mockmill is a very affordable but beautifully crafted German-made mill that stone grinds grain with settings ranging from 1 to 10—fine to coarse ground grain.

And I have great news! The folks at Mockmill are very kind to offer my viewers and readers a special one-time discount on any of the grain mills that they sell.

You can see me unbox and try out the Mockmill 100 Grain mill in the following video.


Additionally, in the following video I show you how to store and grind grain and make flour. You’ll learn three ways to make flour using electric and manual grain grinders.

Download Your Free 36-Page Pantry List

As you transition from a processed foods kitchen to a traditional foods kitchen, it can sometimes feel overwhelming to know how to best stock your pantry. But I never want you to feel stressed during this process, so I am here to help!

For an extensive list of the traditional foods you can make and purchase to stock your pantry, be sure to download my free 36-page Traditional Foods Pantry List. This comprehensive eBook is full of links to recipe videos, helpful articles, and more!

More Apple Dessert Recipes

If you love apples (I do too!), then you’ll love the following recipes made with apples.

Kitchen Academy Videos

Are you looking for more traditional foods videos? If so, I invite you to join the Traditional Foods Kitchen Academy. Members of this optional paid YouTube community get access to exclusive videos, live streams, and other members-only perks. Plus, your YouTube comments include a special members-only badge.

In the following members-only video, I talk about The Importance of Making Our Food Homemade.

Stay in Touch with Mary’s Nest

  1. Subscribe to My YouTube Channel for Traditional Foods Videos (Free) - When you subscribe, be sure to click on the notification bell that will let you know each time I upload a new video.
  2. Subscribe to Mary’s Traditional Foods Newsletter (Free) - Get a free 36-page eBook for signing up: How to Stock Your Essential Traditional Foods Four-Corners Pantry.
  3. Join the Traditional Foods Kitchen Academy (Optional Paid) - For more detailed videos and exclusive members-only perks, join my YouTube membership community.
  4. Order The Modern Pioneer Cookbook (Optional Paid) - Get a printed book of Mary's nourishing recipes from a Traditional Foods Kitchen. This bestselling cookbook is published by Penguin Random House with their DK imprint.

I look forward to having you join me in my Texas Hill Country Kitchen!

Apple Pandowdy Recipe

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total: 2 hours
Yield: 8 servings
Here's an Apple Pandowdy Recipe that is easy to make, especially if you are new to making pie crust. As the name implies, the crust topping is dowdy. That means untidy, and that's the secret. All you do is top your apples with a lot of little pieces of pie crust. Nothing fancy. And that's what makes this crust foolproof!


  • 1 Cast iron skillet or other ovenproof skillet


For the Dowdy Pie Dough

  • 2/3 cup All-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp Dried sugar cane juice (Sucanat) You can substitute light or dark brown sugar.
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 6 tbsp Butter, unsalted Cut into small pieces and keep frozen until ready to use.
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract flavoring
  • 3 tbsp Ice water
  • 1 tbsp Sour cream

For the Apple Filling

  • 2-3 pounds Apples (any variety) peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2" slices As to size, I found that 3 large and 3 small apples weighed between 2-3 pounds.
  • 1/4 cup Dried sugar cane juice (Sucanat) You can also substitute packed light brown or dark brown sugar. To be historically accurate, you can use 1/4 cup molasses.
  • 1/2 tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 3 tbsp Butter, unsalted
  • 3/4 cup Apple juice You can substitute water.
  • 1 tbsp Cornstarch If corn products do not agree with you, you can substitute with tapioca flour.
  • 1 medium Lemon, juice and zest

For the Dowdy Pie Dough Topping

  • 1 tbsp White sugar Best to use white sugar for the topping as other whole sugars may burn.
  • 1/2 tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 1 large Egg, lightly beaten


To Make the Dowdy Pie Dough

  • In the mixing bowl of a food processor* pulse flour, Sucanat, and salt for a few seconds to mix.
  • To the food processor, add butter, then pulse until the flour mixture and butter appear like small peas. This will take about 8 pulses.
  • Mix ice water, sour cream, and vanilla extract and add to the food processor. Pulse until the dough comes together in clumps and all the flour has been moistened.
  • Place the dough onto a flat surface lined with plastic wrap, and using the plastic wrap, shape the dough into a 4"-5" disk. (See video.) Wrap the disk with the plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • After 1 hour, remove the dough to a floured surface, and using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 10" circle.
  • Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the dough up into 2" pieces. They will be uneven when cutting around the edges of the circle.
  • Place the pieces onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.

To Make the Apple Filling

  • Toss apples, Sucanat, cinnamon, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  • In a 10" cast iron skillet (or another oven-proof pan), melt butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the apple mixture. Cook the apples for approximately 10-12 minutes until they release their juices and begin to soften.
  • Mix the apple juice and corn starch together until there are no lumps. Add to the skillet. Bring the apple mixture up to a boil, then immediately turn the heat down to medium-low and allow to simmer until the sauce is thickened. Approximately 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove the skillet from the heat and place the skillet on a heatproof surface. Press on the apples with the back of a wooden spoon to flatten them into an even layer. Set aside.

To Make the Dowdy Pie Dough Topping

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Remove the dough pieces from the refrigerator and place them in no particular pattern on top of the apple mixture in the skillet. They can overlap, and there can also be openings where you can see down into the apple mixture.
  • Mix the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside
  • Brush the dough with the egg.
  • Sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon and sugar mixture.
  • Place the skillet on the middle rack of the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, carefully remove the skillet from the oven and place it on a heatproof surface. Using the back of a spoon, press down on the crust, breaking it in different places, allowing the apple juices to seep up on top of the crust.
  • Return the skillet to the oven and continue to bake until the crust turns a golden brown and puffs up slightly. Approximately 15 minutes.
  • Transfer the skillet to a wire rack and allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes. Scoop out a portion of the apples along with the crust and optionally top with vanilla ice cream. (This treat is best eaten the day you make it.)



*This pie dough is easiest to make if using a food processor, but you can also use a pastry cutter, two knives, or two forks.
Find this recipe and video at
Copyright © 2022 Mary’s Nest, LLC, All Rights Reserved
Course: Baked Goods, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Apple Dessert, Apple Pan Dowdy, Apple Pandowdy, Apples
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Disclaimer:I am not a medical doctor, a medical professional, a dietician, or a nutritionist. All content found on the website, including text, images, videos, eBooks or eGuides, social media, or other formats, were created solely for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or proper nutritional advice. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have watched in a video or read on this website. Use caution when following the recipe in this video. The creator and publisher of this video and website will not be held responsible for any adverse effects that may arise from the use of this recipe and method or any other recipe and method on this website or corresponding video channel.

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  1. 5 stars
    I made the Apple Pandowdy today. It turned out perfect. I wanted to send a photo of it too, but couldn’t find how to do it. I will serve the Pandowdy with homemade vanilla ice cream tonight!

    1. Hi Rose,

      Yea! I’m so glad that your Apple Pandowdy turned out wonderfully. Ice cream is the perfect addition! 🙂

      Love and God bless,

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