Raspberry Pear Pandowdy

This dessert came to be for a few reasons. One: it’s the first day of fall and this seems like the perfect bridge-into-autumn dessert, using late summer berries and incorporating Bosc pears from the farmers market.

Two: I’ve been awfully into rustic, free-form desserts lately. Recently, Linnea was up in Sonoma–ambling around the square with her mom–and brought home a book called Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson. Both are from Portland, OR and Julie owns a little small-batch bakery there by the name of Baker and Spice. She started out selling her tarts and crumbles at the farmers market…and business grew. I can see why. There’s just something nice about unfussy desserts with a reliable crust that showcase beautiful, seasonal fruit. The ingredients are simple: mainly butter, sugar, buttermilk, eggs, and fruit. And the method almost seems intuitive, as if you’re keying into something that people have been doing the same way for years and years.

For those of you who don’t know what a pandowdy is, never fear. I didn’t either. But Rustic Fruit Desserts will fill you in on the difference between a crisp and a cobbler, a buckle and a pandowdy. The latter, by the way, is an old-fashioned spoon pie, with fruit on the bottom and a thick formed crust on top, which is broken up to allow the juices to come through. After skimming the beautiful book, my (unemployed) wheels started turning: wouldn’t it be great to open a little bakery that only sold rustic desserts? Linnea and I debated on the name, playing around with the order of wording and have settled on Buckle and Slump. If someone would like to provide funding, you know where to find me. Just kidding…sort of. So regardless of whether you’re testing it for a new rustic dessert venture or for the troops at home, this one probably won’t have much idle counter time.

Raspberry Pear Pandowdy

Raspberry Pear Pandowdy

  • Yield: 8
  • Prep time: 20 mins
  • Cook time: 50 mins
  • Total time: 1 hr 10 mins

For this recipe, use ripe pears (and if you use Bartlett pears, there’s no need to peel them). It’s always tempting to use overly ripe fruit in desserts such as this because essentially you’re just baking the fruit down. But if you do that here, you’ll end up with nothing more than a mushy pandowdy. You really do want the pieces of pear to hold a bit of their shape. You may certainly skip the ginger in the crust and those of you who dislike the flavor obviously will. However, it was quite subtle and added a slight warmness to the buttery crust that I would certainly miss.

Recipe from: Rustic Fruit Desserts 


For Fruit Filling:

1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
Pinch of fine sea salt
4 large pears, peeled, cored, and sliced (2 pounds prepped)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 dry pint raspberries, fresh of frozen (2 cups or 9 ounces)
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For biscuit topping:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
3 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
10 tablespoons (5 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/3 cup chopped candied ginger (2 ounces)
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon cold buttermilk


Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 400 F. Butter a 9-inch pie pan. To make the fruit filling, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a large bowl, then add the pears and lemon juice and toss until evenly coated. Gently fold in the raspberries and transfer to prepared pan. Distribute the butter atop the fruit.

To make the biscuit: whisk the flour, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, the baking powder, and the salt together in a bowl. Add the butter and toss until evenly coated. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, cut in the butter until it’s the size of large peas, then transfer to a bowl. Stir in the ginger, then pour in the 2/3 cup buttermilk and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. The dough will be crumbly and the pieces of butter will be visible.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and press together, then press into a 9 inch circle. Don’t bother rolling it out–remember, this is a “rustic” dessert. Carefully place dough atop fruit. Brush dough with the 1 tablespoon buttermilk, then sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Place pie pan on baking sheet to catch drips. Bake in the lower third of the oven for 30 minutes. Then turn oven down to 350 and bake an additional 20 minutes or until pastry is golden and juices are bubbly and thick. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before serving. Covered with a tea towel, this pandowdy will keep at room temperature for 3 days.


  1. Mo

    Pandowdy - never heard of it before... but I think you need to make another one. For me! :)

  2. chalkboarder

    That's my kind of favorite dessert! It looks sinful :)

    I played with desserts along this type on the Stephen Taber schooner, using a woodstove at sea. I don't think I ever tried a Pandowdy, but did make buckles and cobblers for the passengers and crew. I'm wondering what your Pandowdy would be like from a woodstove oven...

  3. Megan Gordon

    Pandowdy rocks b/c you just sort of throw it all together--so Lecia and Mo, you should take it on!

    And Jeffrey, I have no earthly idea what it would be like from a woodstove oven. Very, very curious though. Let me know if you decide to experiment...

  4. The Purple Foodie

    Oh! I like the idea of putting peaches and raspberries together. Thanks for sharing!

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