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Mace, nutmeg, and cinnamon are often relegated to the winter months, cookie szn, and holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but these warming spices deserve so much more play time during the rest of the year. Here, each spice plays an important role — the mace transforms the cherries and berries into the best, juiciest versions of themselves, while a little bit of nutmeg makes the crust taste extra buttery, and the cinnamon adds extra sweetness and fragrance to the top of the dessert.
But, what is a pandowdy? This one-skillet dessert was originally made as a skillet pie with solely a top crust. Halfway through baking the crust was broken — or "dowdied" — and then returned to the oven to finish baking, resulting in some pieces of dough that got extra golden and others than sunk into the saucy filling soaking up all those fruity juices. In this version, the all-butter pie dough is cut into triangles before baking and artfully, if not a little haphazardly, arranged on top of the fruit filling before baking.
Cook's tip: Cornstarch needs to come to a boil to start its thickening action, so that's why the pandowdy is started in a hotter oven. That gives a chance for the filling to heat through and come to an active bubble, then the heat is reduced so the dough and cook through without burning.