Apple Doughdy is a traditional pudding cooked in a lidded saucepan over an open fire, campfire or on the hob. Apples, of any type, are sweetened according to taste and variety, and simmered in water until nearly tender. Dumplings shaped like a flattish scone are then laid over the top, the lid is put on, and the apple doughdy simmers until the dumplings have risen a little and are cooked through. The secret of apple doughdy is to ensure that the water is never allowed to boil dry until the moment the dish is ready to serve.
The simple dumplings take on the juices of the apples, and apple doughdy tastes surprisingly different according to what variety of apple you use. Bramley cooking apples need a lot more sugar added than eating apples. If you’re short of time, or are cooking for large numbers, you can even use tinned / canned apples if you wish.
Origins of the words Doughdy and Pandowdy
I had stumbled on the original recipe in Good Housekeeping published in London November 1922 (p 20) in my old family recipe collection. This Apple Doughdy recipe is interesting for its British title and similarity to the Apple Pan Dowdy of American and Dutch cooking. Over the years there has been much curiosity as to the origins of the name Pan Dowdy, and this 1922 recipe clearly shows the sense behind its etymyology.
As a linguist my curiosity got the better of me with this word. As I read the old article over again looking for clues the first line rang a bell. ‘Apple Doughdy is a quickly made apple pudding, which will please the children’. ‘Children’ and ‘Doughdy’ echoed the words ‘dodie’ and ‘dodo’ in my head and I wondered had the children’s dummy, or pacifier as it is otherwise known, been invented by the 1920s. A quick Google search confirmed my suspicions. An article by Dashka Slater in The New York Times traced the ‘dodi’ back to the beginning of the 1900s. Was the word Doughdy then a clever play on the British slang word dodi meaning dummy or pacifier, combined with the comforting pieces of dough that bedecked this dish?