Old-Fashioned Peach Pandowdy

I love stone fruit, but haven’t taken advantage of it this season, waiting until now to wonder about new fangeled varieties of plums or pick up a few of the enormous peaches I’ve been seeing at the market.  The last four beauties I purchased sat around until my husband asked about whether he could put one in a smoothie he was making for us to share.  I couldn’t say no because if they sat on the counter any longer while providing me a visual reminder of what I was supposed to be planning to cook with them, they would be well past their prime– especially with the heat we’ve recently had.

And I was just waxing about Fall, wasn’t I?

You may not remember, but some time ago I promised a recipe for peach pandowdy and time has just slipped away while I’ve been cooking other things.  But I remembered, and as much as I was planning on putting these peaches in the perfect salad, they had pandowdy written all over them.

What’s a pandowdy, you ask?  It’s fruit tossed with sugar and whatever flavorings you’d like to add.  It’s tucked nicely under a simple biscuit crust and baked until it’s hot, juicy,  and full of the fruit flavor you’ve packed it with.  But there are other versions of this old-fashioned dessert.  I’ve heard that some may like baking the dough topper separately, then adding it while the fruit is baking.  Although I haven’t tried that version, I will say I’d probably miss the doughy underside of that topping which only happens when it’s placed on the fruit from the start and baked with it.

You may also wonder how a pandowdy is different from a cobbler, crisp, crumble, buckle, Brown Betty, grunt, slump or sonker, but I’m not an expert.   I grew up eating cobblers and crisps, and have heard of all but a sonker, which evidently, is taken quite seriously in some parts of North Carolina.

Have some fun with this simple recipe!

Old-Fashioned Peach Pandowdy Recipe

Filling Ingredients

1/3 c. brown sugar

2 T lemon juice, freshly squeezed

4 c. sliced fresh peaches, pitted (about 3 large)

Biscuit Topping Ingredients

1 c. flour

1 T sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

pinch of salt

3 T very cold butter

1/3 c. cream or whole milk


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and position a rack in the center of the oven.  Lightly oil a baking pan (an 8 x 8 or similar will do) and set aside.
  2. Toss the peaches lightly with the other filling ingredients and then scrape them into the oiled pan.
  3. Make the the topping by adding the dry ingredients to a medium bowl.  Whisk lightly to mix the ingredients.
  4. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and pinch it into the dry ingredients until it resembles a coarse meal.
  5. Pour the cream over the dough and using a fork, lightly mix it until the dough begins to come together.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and sprinkle a bit more flour over it.
  7. Knead lightly, 10 times to make a smooth dough.
  8. Press or roll the dough to the shape of the baking dish.  It doesn’t not have to be exact, nor does it have to attach to the sides.
  9. Place the dough over the peaches and cut a few vents in it.
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling, and the top is golden brown.
  11. Cool on a rack to allow the juice to thicken.
  12. Spoon and serve.

Recipe Notes:

  • This recipe was adapted from the lovely little book Biscuits and Scones by Elizabeth Alston which has been a favorite for years.
  • Evidently, an authentic pandowdy was traditionally made with apples placed in a pan or skillet and has a topping which is pushed into the fruit as it bakes, giving it a broken, “dowdy” appearance — hence the name.  I’ve never tried breaking it up before, but it does sound interesting.
  • If you can’t wait until the pandowdy is cool, then by all means, scoop away.  The juice will be thin, but it’s still great.  Just pour the excess over the biscuit topping.
  • Try it with apples or berries, add some nuts or some spice, but try it!  It can’t get much easier than this.
  • Here’s  information From Karen’s Kitchen about what makes one old fashioned fruit dessert different from another just in case.  I still have quite a few of them to sample!

For more old-fashioned fruit dessert recipes: