gluten-free apple berry pandowdy recipe

gluten-free apple berry pandowdy

I awoke yesterday to a very distraught little girl pleading with me to let her stay home from school. "My tummy really, really hurts mum", she said.
There have been all sorts of nasty bugs doing the rounds lately and even though Ada has a bad habit of saying something hurts on a daily basis, for some reason her tears seemed much more genuine than usual and I found myself telling her she could have the day off at home with me. We dropped Kye off at kindy and just like magic Ada perked up, tears disappeared and any hint of that sore tummy were long forgotten. I'd totally been conned. 

It's been a long term at school and we're nearing the end of it with only one week to go until the holidays start. It's not very often that Ada and I get to spend time alone without her brother around, so conned or not, I didn't mind letting her spend the day at home, call it a mental health day if you will. Because even if the sore tummy was not real, I know her poor little body and mind could do with a day off. It's been such a big year. 

gluten-free apple berry pandowdy
So we baked. Ada ran to her closet to grab her gorgeous new apron, a handmade gift from my clever sister that's as pretty as a dress. She pulled up her chair and helped cut the butter. I showed her how long to pulse the flour and butter "see, you want just teeny bits of butter left in there love, these will melt when the pastry cooks and will create lovely little pockets of flaky goodness. Just like we want". She smiled and gave me a hug.

We made pandowdy, a smashed-pie-like dessert which originates from America's deep south. Kinda pie like in it's method, the filling is piled up under a sheet of rich cookie-like pastry which bakes to golden perfection. Later comes the fun bit when you then smash the pastry to encourage the filling to bubble up and over the top, leaving some pieces of pastry crisp while others soften from the fruit juices. Rustic, gorgeous, insanely delicious and totally my kinda dessert.

gluten-free apple berry pandowdy

gluten-free apple berry pandowdy

You will need to start this recipe a day ahead to allow time for your yoghurt to drain. Just a note on using frozen berries; check on the label where the berries are from. I stopped buying them after discovering that most of the store bought ones are from places as far afield as China and Peru. Now I don't know about you, but I don't fancy eating berries grown overseas where we have no idea of the standards in which they are grown in. Buy locally grown or pay that little bit extra to buy organic ones. Even better, do what I do and when berries are in season buy up loads and freeze them yourself for use later on in the year. In NZ it's easy to buy NZ grown berries, but for some reason over here in Australia I'm yet to find any? I've been meaning to write to the big supermarkets here and ask why...
serves 4-6

labne pastry

  • 1 cup (120g) fine brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup (70g) fine millet flour
  • 1/2 cup (55g) almond meal (ground almonds)
  • 2 tablespoon gluten-free cornflour (corn starch)
  • 1/4 cup (40g) blitzed raw sugar* or any other fine grain sugar
  • good pinch fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, optional
  • finely grated zest 1 lemon
  • 140g cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup (100g) labne (strained yoghurt)**


  • 4 each of granny smith and pink lady apples, peeled, cored and cut into eights
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour (corn starch)
  • 1 1/2 ups frozen mixed berries ~see headnotes
  • juice 2 mandarins
  • finely grated zest 1 lemon
  • raw sugar, to scatter
  • pure icing sugar (powdered), to dust, optional
  • cream or coconut cream to serve, optional

To make labne pastry, place brown rice flour, millet flour, almond meal, cornflour, sugar and salt into food processor, pulse to combine. Add vanilla bean paste, lemon zest and butter and pulse a few times until just small lumps of butter remain. Add labne and pulse until just combined. Turn out onto a clean bench and knead a few times until dough comes together. Form into a flat disc, wrap in a plastic bag and chill in the fridge for an hour.

Preheat oven to 200C/395F. To prepare the filling, place cut apples into a medium bowl. Combine raw sugar and cornflour then add to the apples along with the berries, mandarin juice and lemon zest. Mix thoroughly. Turn out into a 23cm diameter, 5cm deep pie dish. Brush the edges of the dish with a little water to help the pastry stick. Roll out pastry on a piece of baking paper until 4mm thick. Using the paper, invert the pastry onto the filling and press down the edges to stick. Trim edges off with a sharp knife (save them to bake off later as cookies). Brush top of pastry with a little water and sprinkle with raw sugar. Cut a little hole in the top to let the steam out and bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and using a fork make a few good big cuts in the top of the pastry, pressing down a little to encourage the filling to rise up and over the top. Place back in the oven and cook for a further 20-25 minutes or until top is golden. Dust with icing (powdered) sugar and serve with a drizzle or cream or coconut cream.

* Instead of using caster sugar I like to use organic raw sugar which I blitz to a fine powder in my upright blender. You could use any fine grain sugar you like.

** To make labne (strained yoghurt) place about 1 1/2 cups of natural plain yoghurt into a fine mesh sieve over a bowl or square of muslin, tied up and suspended over a bowl overnight in the fridge. Tip out the collected whey in the bowl periodically or save to add to smoothies or bread dough. The next day you will be left with a lovely thick strained yoghurt, which can then be used in this recipe or stored for later use. 

Inspired by this recipe from Australian Gourmet Traveller.

Linked to: Slightly Indulgent Tuesday @ Simple Sugar & Gluten-free

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  • Reply
    June 29, 2012 at 3:34 am

    Looks amazing, as always. Thanks for the heads-up on the frozen berries. I just checked the frozen blueberries I have in the freezer and sadly your correct they are imported, so I wont be buying them anymore. There's lots of strawberries round at the moment (Qld for you) so I will have to start freezing them.

    • Reply
      June 29, 2012 at 12:41 pm

      Yeah we've been buying fresh strawberries at a great price this past week and our plants are still producing a few a week! You don't see locally grown berries in the middle of winter back home in NZ, so we're making the most of it!

  • Reply
    Coconut and Vanilla
    June 29, 2012 at 11:17 am

    I've never heard of pandowdy,but as in Germany is berry season, too, I will give this a try soon. Thank you for the recipe and the inspiration!
    I totally agree with you buying local berries. I just thought about it some time ago where all the frozen berries come from. So today we will go berry picking and I will freeze a lot 🙂

  • Reply
    June 29, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    That looks yummy! Mind you, I don't exactly associate Australia's climate with berry growing so maybe that's the matter. 🙂

  • Reply
    June 29, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    This is a wonderful recipe and how lovely to have a day at home with your daughter. Sometimes kids really do need a day at home with Mum. We can pick local berries here and freeze them for winter, and i have never thought of looking at those frozen packs, it will be interesting to see where the US imports theirs from.. pandowdy is a fabulous word.. and a gorgeous dessert.. c PS tell Ada I love her pinny!!

  • Reply
    June 29, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I love this recipe – so yummy! I had never heard of Labne before, until I realized it is the same thing as yogurt cheese – such a great ingredient to cook with!

  • Reply
    Brittany Boersma
    June 29, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    It looks outstanding!!!!!

  • Reply
    June 29, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Do you think I could do this with almond milk yogurt for a dairy free version? It looks so delicious… thanks! 🙂

    • Reply
      June 30, 2012 at 3:02 am

      Wow, I've not ever had almond milk yoghurt before! So long as it's thick enough (about the thickness of sour cream) it should be fine, or just use a little less than 1/2 cup if not that thick and use dairy-free margarine in place of butter.

  • Reply
    The InTolerant Chef
    June 30, 2012 at 5:49 am

    This does sound nice and the presentation is just gorgeous! I'm glad she wasn't really sick after all 🙂

  • Reply
    June 30, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    I'm glad you and your daughter had a memory-making bonding time of a day! And the pandowdy looks divine! Could one make the strained yogurt with non-dairy yogurt and have the recipe turn out right in the end?

    • Reply
      July 1, 2012 at 2:20 am

      I don't see why you couldn't use non-dairy yoghurt but as I have not tried it out myself I couldn't vouch it will turn out exactly the same. But I'm sure it will still be delicious. You could always just use a touch of iced water (like most other pasty recipes use) in place of the labne, just adding enough to pull the dough together.

  • Reply
    Suzanne Perazzini
    June 30, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Lovely looking tart. I was just wondering where you get your gluten-free flours and other specialised products in NZ that don't cost the earth? I have found that sometimes here it costs about the same to buy the finished product. I would love to find a cheaper source.

    • Reply
      July 1, 2012 at 2:27 am

      We live in Western Australia at the moment, but I used to buy a lot of my flours from my local Indian store back home in NZ. Binn Inn sells lots of flours too and a new online store has really amazing prices (much cheaper than I pay for my flours over here). It's where I'll be buying my flours from when we move back to NZ. It may work out just the same price to make your own, but by making it at home you know exactly what's in it and by using wholegrain flours it is much better for you than store-bought products made using highly refined nutrient-void flours, starches and gums.

    • Reply
      Suzanne Perazzini
      July 1, 2012 at 9:30 am

      Thanks, I'll look into that online store.

  • Reply
    June 30, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    Great post. I was wondering if you would like to put up a link to this apple recipe in my Food on Friday Series.

  • Reply
    July 1, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Love the apron. Strawberries here in Queensland are happening, this looks like a great new way to use them.

  • Reply
    Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes
    July 1, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    What an amazing post! Lovely photos and super cut mini me apron 🙂

  • Reply
    Mairi @ Toast
    July 1, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    Just delicious Emma, & I am certainly a fan of the rustic pie & just love the name pandowdy….what a fantastic word!

  • Reply
    July 3, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Aw, Emma, you're my kind of mum! I had the occasional 'mental health day' when I was a kid (not that that's what I called it back then, haha) and I'll always be grateful to Mum for letting me have them. Sometimes everything's just a bit too much.

    The pandowdy looks gorgeous – America has the best desserts!

  • Reply
    July 3, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Such a beautiful dish. My mum never let us stay at home, I got sent back home from school one day because I had tonsillitis and mum had said…off you go, you'll be fine when you get there LOL

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