Sweet-talkin' Summer Desserts
Don’t forget the pandowdy. What would dessert be without it? And for that matter, what would dessert be without the seemingly endless range of deliciousness you can create simply by baking different proportions of flour, sugar, butter and fresh summer fruits? Along with the variety of tastes, the language that describes those various baked delights is pretty rich, too.
If you find yourself with a bunch of fresh fruit from the farmers market this summer, you can’t go wrong by trying out a betty or a buckle, a crisp or a crumble, a pandowdy or a slump or a grunt. Or maybe all of these, depending on how many flats of berries and stone fruits you succumb to on a sunny day at the market.
For an excellent guide to how to turn simple fruits into super desserts, read Rustic Fruit Desserts (subtitle: “Crumbles, buckles, cobblers, pandowdies and more”) by two Portlanders, chef Cory Schreiber (of Wildwood fame) and baker Julie Richardson. Ten Speed Press published the book in 2009, but of course, baking wholesome, traditional fruit desserts haven’t exactly changed enormously in the last few years. (The website
The two well-known Portland foodies met in 1998, before Portland had turned into farm-to-table headquarters (they were part of the reason our town took that turn). The downtown Farmers Market was where Schreiber and Richardson first crossed paths; the latter was just starting her Baker and Spice business then. It grew from a mere market stand to the trusty, craveworthy Hillsdale baking destination it is today.
Haven’t you always wanted to know what a pandowdy is (besides being a cool and crazy word)? According to Richardson, it means something “unfashionable, or without style.” The flour and fruits and butter and sugar (and a few other ingredients) cook in a cast iron pan in the oven, and the dough typically being used was, in the olden days, leftover bread dough. You can watch Richardson make a "jazzed up" gingered pear and raspberry pandowdy in this video.
And if you want to make a go of it on your own, here is Richardson and Schreiber’s recipe for Lemon Blueberry Buckle (also online at the Wednesday Chef website).
Lemon Blueberry Buckle
?1/2 cup flour?
1/3 cup sugar?
1/8 teaspoon salt?
Zest of 1 lemon?
1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) butter, cubed, at room temperature
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Add the butter, using a fork or your fingers to cut in the butter until it is reduced to the size of peas. Loosely cover the bowl, and place it in the freezer while you mix the cake batter.
Cake and assembly:
- 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the pan
- 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 3/4 cup plus
- 1/3 cup sugar, divided
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, divided
- Crumb topping, chilled
- Juice of 2 lemons (about 6 tablespoons)
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter, three-fourths cup sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
4. Stir the flour mixture into the bowl, a third at a time, alternating with the buttermilk, until both the flour mixture and buttermilk are evenly incorporated into the batter. Gently fold 1 cup of the blueberries into the batter.
5. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and distribute the remaining blueberries evenly over the top of the batter. Remove the crumb topping from the freezer and sprinkle it over the berries.
6. Bake the cake until it is lightly golden and firm on top, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through for even baking.
7. While the cake is baking, make a lemon syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the remaining one-third cup sugar with the lemon juice and whisk until blended. Heat the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid thickens to a syrupy consistency, 6 to 8 minutes. (The glaze will bubble while cooking and may need to be removed from the heat to check that it is the proper consistency.) Remove from heat and set aside in a warm place.
8. Remove the cake from the oven and drizzle the warm glaze over. Cool to room temperature. The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, covered in plastic wrap.
You can get a copy of Rustic Fruit Desserts locally at Powell’s. The luscious, juicy photos are by Sara Remington.
Baker and Spice
Tuesday – Friday: 6am – 6pm
Saturday: 7am – 6pm
Sunday: 7am – 3pm
6330 Sw Capitol Hwy
Portland, OR 97239