“Shoofly pie and apple pandowdy makes your eyes light up, your tummy say howdy,” promised Ella Fitzgerald, in a song that (deliciously) begins, “If you wanna do right by your appetite . . . ”
Ruby red and rosy pink stalks of rhubarb in the produce section are a sure sign that spring has arrived. Although technically a vegetable (genus Rheum, plant family Polygonaceae), and a close relation to sorrel, you’ll find it used primarily in desserts since you need to add sugar to overcome its assertive tartness.
Rhubarb stalks are the only edible part of the plant; the leaves are toxic to both humans and animals. Select firm, slender, brightly colored stalks, and use non-reactive cookware such as stainless steel, anodized aluminum or glass, as the high acid content of pans made with copper, iron or regular aluminum will create an ‘off’ taste.
Ingredients for the topping:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2-3 tablespoons very cold water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch pieces
3 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening, chilled
Ingredients for the filling:
2 pounds (5 medium-sized) sweet, firm apples, such as Golden Delicious, peeled and cored, cut in ½-inch slices
1½ pounds trimmed rhubarb, cut in ½-inch pieces
(combined fruit should total approximately 8 cups)
¼ cup candied ginger, finely chopped
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons butter
Add flour, salt and sugar to the work bowl of a food processor or mixer. Combine the egg, vinegar and 2 tablespoons of cold water in a small measuring cup. Scatter the butter and shortening on top of the dry ingredients, then pulse or mix until crumbly. Add the egg mixture and pulse or mix until a messy ball forms. Add additional water, if necessary. Form the dough into a flat disk, dust with flour and wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze while you prepare the filling.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. with the rack in the center position. Butter a 10-cup shallow ovenproof glass baking dish, or large, deep-dish pie plate. Add the fruit to a mixing bowl; scatter the ginger on top and mix to combine. Combine the sugar, cornstarch and nutmeg in a small bowl and then stir into the fruit, mixing gently. Spoon the fruit into the prepared dish and scatter the butter on top.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface. It should be roughly the size of the baking dish. Cut the dough in 2-inch circles, and position them over the fruit. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake for 50 minutes or until top is golden brown and fruit is bubbling. Serve hot, or warm, passing a pitcher of heavy cream to dribble over, if desired.
Browse vegetable gardening articles