Monday, April 7, 2014

Upside-Down Rhubarb Pandowdy

According to What's Cooking's the (paraphrased) scoop on cobblers. It seems to me that the 'cobbler' is an all-encompassing term that includes some of the others.

Cobbler: an American deep-dish fruit dessert or pie with a thick crust (usually a biscuit crust) and a fruit filling (such as peaches, apples, berries). Some are enclosed in the crust, others have a drop-biscuit or crumb topping.

Crisp / Crumble:  fruit mixture on the bottom with a crumb topping, which can be made with flour, nuts, bread crumbs, cookie or graham cracker crumbs, or even breakfast cereal. Crumble is the British version of the American Crisp.

Betty / Brown Betty: fruit, usually apples, baked between layers of buttered crumbs. Betty was a popular baked pudding made during colonial times in America.

Grunts / Slump: an American colonialist attempt to adapt the English steamed pudding to the primitive cooking equipment available in New England resulted in the grunt and the slump, a simple dumpling-like pudding, basically a cobbler, that was usually cooked on top of the stove.

Buckle / Crumble: a type of cake made in a single layer with berries added to the batter. It is usually made with blueberries. The topping, which is similar to a streusel, gives the dessert a buckled or crumpled appearance.

Pandowdy: a deep-dish dessert that is most commonly made with apples sweetened with molasses or brown sugar. The topping is a crumbly type of biscuit and the crust is broken up during baking and pushed down into the filling to allow the juices to come through. Sometimes the crust is on the bottom and the dessert is inverted before serving. The exact origin of the name Pandowdy is unknown, thought it might refer to the deserts plain or dowdy appearance.

Bird's Nest Pudding: a pudding containing apples whose cores have been replaced by sugar.

Sonker: a deep-dish pie or cobbler served in many flavors including strawberry, peach, sweet potato, and cherry. I’ve also read this same dish is called zonker (or sonker) in Surry County, North Carolina. The community of Lowgap holds an annual Sonker Festival.

With all that in mind...and really because I like the word...I made an upside-down rhubarb pandowdy.


  • 2 3/4 C organic pastry flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 3/4 C butter, softened
  • 1 C organic cane sugar
  • 2 eggs

  • 5 C rhubarb
  • 1/2 C organic cane sugar
  • 1/4 honey (I used a local avocado honey)
  • splash of pure vanilla
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 ground nutmeg
  • dash of ground cardamom
  • 2 T butter, softened

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Stir together pastry flour and baking powder set aside in a bowl.  Beat butter and sugar until creamy.  Add eggs and mix.  Gradually add flour mixture.  Mix completely. Press the dough into the bottom of a baking dish.

In a large bowl, mix together all of the filling ingredients. Spoon it into the dough-lined pan.

Bake for 40-50 minutes. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar.

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