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Hometown for the Holidays!

September 28, 2006 By:
Rivka Tal, JE Feature
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As most people know, at High Holiday time, we traditionally dip apple slices in honey at the start of our festive meals, expressing our prayers for a sweet new year. In keeping with the honey tradition, I bake a honey cake every year. And an apple cake.

But guess what? After a couple of dutiful bites have been taken, the honey cake just sits in the freezer until well after Sukkot. It's no one's favorite (I guess because it just can't compete with anything made of chocolate). So I was thinking of trying something else this year -- some all-American favorites that salute apples and honey.

So how about some "Shoofly Pie and Apple Pandowdy"?

This song -- performed by Dinah Shore and written by S. Gallop/G. Wood -- was one of the best-selling records (for those who don't know what that is, ask someone a generation or two above you) of 1946.

What are they talking about, you may ask? Shoofly Pie is a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch dessert. Original recipes called for molasses, of course, not honey. (This is nostalgia song-time -- remember, "Molasses, molasses, icky-sticky-goo; molasses, molasses, it always sticks to you!" Can you believe that my mind is cluttered up with stuff like this?)

Why shoofly?

According to the book, Rare Bits: Unusual Origins of Popular Recipes, by Patricia Bunning Stevens, shoofly pie was created when "the pie-loving Pennsylvania Dutch ... found themselves short of baking supplies in the late winter and early spring ... all that was left in the pantry were flour, lard [excuse the expression] and molasses."

From these sparse ingredients, they fashioned Shoofly Pie, and found that their families liked it so well they soon made it all year round. The pie's unusual name is said to be due to the fact that pies were traditionally set to cool on windowsills; due to the sweet ingredients, the cook would have to shoo flies away.

If you wanna do right by your appetite,
If you're fussy about your food,
Take a choo-choo today, head New England way,
And we'll put you in the happiest mood with:
Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy
Makes your eyes light up,
Your tummy say "Howdy."
Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy
I never get enough of that wonderful stuff.
Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan dowdy makes the sun come out
When Heavens are cloudy,
Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy,
I never get enough of that wonderful stuff!
Mama! When you bake,
Mama! I don't want cake;
Mama! For my sake
Go to the oven and make some ever lovin' Sh,
Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy
Makes your eyes light up,
Your tummy say "Howdy,"
Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy
I never get enough of that wonderful stuff!
Shoofly Pie

[Pareve/Dairy]

pre-bought pastry shell for a 1-crust 9-inch pie (you can make your own, using pareve ingredients)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup light-brown sugar, packed
1 Tbsp. cold butter or margarine (or pareve margarine)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 cup honey
3/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup hot water
1 tsp. baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out the pie pastry. Line a 9-inch pie pan. Set aside.

In a food processor, combine the flour, brown sugar, butter or margarine, and salt. Remove 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside.

Beat egg into mixture in food processor; mix in the honey and cold water.

Mix the hot water with baking soda and blend into the food processor mixture.

Pour into the pie shell. Top with the reserved crumbs.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until done in center.

Cool on a rack.

Makes one 9-inch pie.

Serves 8.

Then there's Apple Pandowdy, one of America's founding recipes and prime comfort food -- deep-dish dessert made of sliced apples doused in sugar and cinnamon, and covered in a sweet, crumbly biscuit. It's actually one of a family of simple desserts, known in different parts of the world as cobblers, duffs, grunts, slumps and pandowdies.

The exact origin of the name "pandowdy" is unknown. Could it refer to the dessert's plain or "dowdy" appearance? Or are you of the school that says the name comes from the method in which the recipe is completed -- after an apple-based filling is baked in a crust-lined casserole, the baker takes a fork and then "dowdies" the crust, breaking it into pieces. As the dish cools, the "dowdied" crust absorbs a lot of the liquid, leaving you with an almost pudding-like confection.

Looks can be deceiving: Apple pandowdy is delicious, especially topped with a bit of nondairy topping or real whipped cream.

My version also eliminates a bottom crust, making these holidays just a bit easier.

Apple Pandowdy

[Dairy/Pareve]

nonstick spray
3 cups peeled, cored and sliced tart apples (like Granny Smith)
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 cup honey
11/2 cups flour
2 tsps. baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 lb. butter (or margarine)
1/2 cup milk (or water)
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 11/2 quart baking dish with nonstick spray.

Arrange the sliced apples in the dish, and sprinkle with nutmeg, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Spoon the honey over and cover the dish with foil.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and another pinch of salt in a large bowl. Melt the butter or margarine in a small pan; remove from heat.

Stir milk or water, and egg, into mixture, beating well. Blend in the flour mixture.

Pour this batter over the apples; cover with foil and return the baking dish to the oven.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until topping is golden-brown and apples are soft. Serve warm.

Serves 6 to 8.

Rivka Tal is a food writer based in Jerusalem.

 

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