Flaky buckwheat pie dough forms the crust for this late summer fruit dessert, and ice cream flavored with vanilla bean and toasted buckwheat makes a beguiling foil. Adapted from my cookbook Alternative Baker: Reinventing Dessert with Gluten-Free Grains and Flours.
It’s the one month countdown to the release of Alternative Baker! (And if you haven’t pre-ordered a copy yet, you can do so at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, your local bookstore, or wherever books are sold.) In the meantime, I wanted to share a favorite summer fruit dessert adapted from the book.
Pandowdy is one of those shapeshifting, old-school desserts that can take on a number of forms. Traditionally, you lay a slab of dough atop a dish of fruit, give it a bake, then score the dough into squares and partially submerge it in the fruit while it bakes some more. As the canny folks at America’s Test Kitchen and Martha Stewart noticed, this technique often leads to soggy crust and steamed fruit. Cutting the dough into pretty shapes and laying it over the dough with lots of windows to let steam escape allows the fruit to condense and thicken and keeps the crust crisp.
This type of pandowdy is essentially a pie without the fuss of a bottom crust, or a cobbler with pie dough on top instead of biscuits. It’s a perfect use for my gluten-free pie dough, which is a bit more brittle than a wheat-based dough but bakes up every bit as crisp and flaky. It’s loaded with whole grain flours and uses ground chia seed to help hold it together. I have a few versions in Alternative Baker, and this one, made with charcoal-hued buckwheat flour, is a favorite.
I had a bit of buckwheat pie dough left over from a fun, book-related project that Sarah and I will be revealing in the coming weeks, so I paired it with the sweet peaches and blackberries that are currently in season for an impromptu dessert.
In a buckwheat frenzy, I also toasted some buckwheat groats and added them to my standard vanilla ice cream base from the book. Buckwheat has a toasty flavor with hints of hazelnuts and cinnamon in a base that smacks of chocolate, coffee, and earth. It adds a nutty nuance to ice cream that complements the pandowdy just so, playing up the buckwheat notes in the crust. But I eat it straight from the container, too, enjoying the unusual taste of toasted buckwheat conveyed in a cool custard.
I can’t wait to share all of Alternative Baker with you next month! But for now, I hope this satisfies the alternative baker in all of you dear readers.
- Apple Rhubarb Pandowdy
- Alana’s Strawberry Cardamom Pandowdy
- Irvin’s Apple Blackberry Pandowdy
- Saveur’s Apple Pandowdy
- Maria’s Merlot Boysenberry Pandowdy
- Marilyn’s Ginger Peach Pandowdy
- Emily’s Peach-Blueberry Pandowdy
- 1 recipe Flaky GF Pie Dough (Buckwheat variation, preferably made with the buttermilk variation; you will only need about ⅔ of the recipe)
- buckwheat flour, for dusting
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) milk or cream (for brushing the dough)
- 1 tablespoon (10 g) coarse sugar (turbinado or demerara)
- 11⁄4 pounds (560 g) ripe but firm peaches or nectarines (about 5 medium), halved, pitted, cut into wedges (4-5 cups)
- 3 cups (12 ounces / 360 g) blackberries
- 1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (75 g) organic granulated cane sugar
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons (12 g) cornstarch
- 1⁄8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Toasted Buckwheat Ice Cream, below, for serving (or your favorite vanilla ice cream)
- To make the topping, prepare and chill the dough as directed. On a surface dusted lightly with buckwheat flour, roll out the dough into a round roughly 1⁄4-inch (6-mm) thick. Use a 2-inch (5 cm) fluted biscuit cutter to cut out rounds of dough, placed close together. Stack the dough pieces on a plate and chill until cold. You will only need about two-thirds of the dough.
- Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 375ºF (190ºC).
- To make the filling, in a large bowl, toss together the peaches, blackberries, sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch and salt until well combined. Scrape the mixture into a 10-inch (25-cm) skillet or ceramic tart pan, a 9-inch (23-cm) deep-dish pie pan or a 9-inch (23-cm) square baking dish. Lay the chilled rounds of dough over the fruit, overlapping them slightly and leaving some gaps for steam to escape. Brush the dough with the milk and sprinkle with the sugar. Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips.
- Bake the pandowdy until the crust is golden and the fruit is bubbling, 45–55 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream.
- The pandowdy is best freshly baked when the crust is crisp. It will keep for up to 1 day at room temperature, or up to 3 days refrigerated airtight. Reheat in a 375ºF (190ºC) oven before serving.
- ½ cup raw buckwheat groats
- 11⁄4 cups (300 ml) whole milk
- 1⁄2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
- 1⁄2 cup (100 g) organic granulated cane sugar
- 1⁄8 tsp fine sea salt
- 11⁄4 cups (300 ml) cold, heavy cream
- 4 large egg yolks
- Place the buckwheat groats in a skillet set over medium heat. Toast, shuffling the pan frequently, until the buckwheat turns golden and smells nutty, 3-5 minutes. Tip into a medium saucepan to stop the cooking.
- Add the milk, vanilla bean and scrapings, sugar, and salt to the pan and heat until steamy and small bubbles appear around the sides of the pan, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar and prevent the milk from scorching. Remove from the heat, cover and steep for 20 minutes to infuse with the vanilla and buckwheat.
- Pour the heavy cream into a large, heat-proof bowl, place a strainer on top, and set aside. If you have an instant-read thermometer, have it handy.
- Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl set on a damp towel to stabilize it. Reheat the milk mixture until hot and steamy. Whisking constantly with one hand, pour the hot dairy very slowly into the yolks. This is called tempering, and prevents the yolks from scrambling. Pour the mixture back into the pot and set the pot over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a heatproof silicone spatula, scraping the sides and bottom of the pot, until the custard just begins to “stick” (or form a thickened film) on the bottom of the pot (you may have to tilt the pan to see it), or registers 170ºF (76ºC) on an instant-read thermometer, 5–10 minutes.
- Immediately pour the custard through the strainer and into the container of cold cream, discarding the solids. Stir to combine, and chill for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight. For a quicker chill, pour the ice cream into a metal bowl and place over an ice water bath, stirring until the base is cold.
- Place the ice cream base in the freezer for 30 minutes to get it really cold, stirring once or twice (this way the ice cream will take less time to churn, resulting in a denser, creamier ice cream). Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and process as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Mine takes about 20 minutes to churn.
- When the ice cream is finished churning, scrape it into a container. Press a piece of parchment paper directly onto the surface (this will discourage crystals from forming), cover tightly and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours.
- Homemade ice cream is best within the first week of being made, but will keep for a month or two in the freezer.