We tried the long forgotten Apple Dowdy recipe as described in Della Lutes’ Book “The Country Kitchen”. This is her Aunt’s Recipe from the 1890’s as she describes it and it was certainly around for many years prior to this as it passed from generation to generation.
Now Della did not specify Organic “This” or Organic “That” in her recipe simply because everything was organically grown back then. But unfortunately, now we must, since we really have two classes of foods to choose from. One could say “old-school vs. chem lab” but I won’t … so everything organic and please hold the pesticides.
Anyway, here’s what we did. Since Della’s recipe like many in the day does not call out for specific measurements of ingredients we ran an experimental baking with a mini Apple Dowdy. This was put together and baked in a 5″x5″ x 1.5″ deep Le Creuset (a very fine baking dish by the way).
- Preheat your oven to 325F
- Peel and cut into pieces 2 medium apples. One Macintosh and one Granny Smith (following the same path for taste, texture and tartness that we do for our Apple Pie).
- Place the cut apples in the baking dish, this just filled ours.
- Sprinkle the top with some freshly ground Nutmeg (allll-right pre ground if that’s all you have.
- Top this with a sprinkle of Cinnamon (Della tells us to use a little less than the Nutmeg so we did).
- Add a dash of Sea Salt.
- Take some unsalted butter and cut thin slices and place on top. She says to use about one teaspoon of butter per serving. We did our best but I think we put in some extra … mmm butter.
- Add a 1/4 Cup of Warm, but not Hot, Spring Water. Della called out 1/2 Cup for what we assume is a pie-sized dowdy. So we just cut it in half and added it to our little half-pint size version.
Make the Baking Powder Crust
- Take a Medium Bowl and add 1 Cup of All-Purpose Flour
- Add Two Teaspoons of Aluminum Free Baking Powder (you can of course use regular “Aluminumized” stuff, it’s your health, knock yourself out).
- Add Two Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter.
- Add 1/4 Teaspoon of Sea Salt
- Add 1/2 Cup of Whole Milk.
- Stir and spread the Baking Powder Crust over the Apple Filled Baking Dish. Try to get about 3/4″ thickness.
- Try to cut a Big “S” in the center and little slots/breathing holes several places around it.
- Place in the center rack of the Preheated Oven.
- Let bake for 3 hours. Yes, THREE Hours.
After baking remove and let set before digging in (but make sure it’s still warm). Della recommends serving on a dish and pouring on some heavy cream that has been dressed up with a little sugar and nutmeg.
Well, what did we think? As far as being easy this recipe kicks butt. It was insanely simple and quick to put together. Then while it was baking the entire house filled with this warm apple/nutmeg/cinnamony smell. Very strong and like heaven. You could almost say that you’re going to make this just to make your house smell great for company or potential home buyers. Seriously, your house will smell that good … Taste. .. There was this starchy, buttery, appley thing going on and with the fat from the heavy cream it was some really good comfort food. The only thing we wished we had done differently was to warm up the cream to further enhance the warmness of the whole treat. Just wonderful.
Now like Della says, this dessert is definitely different from a tart or pie. It’s a dowdy and nothing but a dowdy. And she was also right about this being one homely thing (this is definitely an “Ugly Betty” when compared to an apple pie with an egg wash & sugar topping). But it’s something different and a great opportunity to shake up your repertoire. As far as variations we could envision serving with a good vanilla ice cream and possibly sprinkling the top with a cinnamon sugar to bring up the sweetness. Add walnuts? That might work. And also a rum/espresso topping could be very nice as well. In short there are endless possibilities to make this a unique dish that you could call your own.
Anyway, there you have it. Hope you enjoy your apple dowdy. And we’ll look into more forgotten recipes as time goes on. Enjoy!