Yesterday, just for the joy of it, I made Apple Brown Betty. Do you know this autumn-scented 19th-century dessert? It’s easier to make than Apple Crisp. It’s economical, too, as the only primary ingredients are apples and whatever bread you happen to have on hand. Join me in the kitchen, and I’ll show you the easy recipe:
I made this dessert for my YouTube channel. Please watch when you have a moment. Among other things, you’ll see my nifty (and inexpensive) apple coring, peeling, and slicing gadget.
Ingredients for Apple Brown Betty
Fresh or stale bread. You can use regular white or whole wheat sandwich bread if you wish, but you certainly don’t have to. I’ve made “Betty” with leftover croissants, frozen homemade baguettes, the frozen, cut-off crusts from tea sandwiches, and even frozen scones leftover from Afternoon Tea. Gluten-free bread can work here as well. Be creative, and use any bread (or bread-like things) you have on hand. That’s what our 19th-century ancestors did.
Butter. Salted or unsalted, as you please.
Apples. With the possible exception of the ubiquitous and (to me) boring ‘Red Delicious,’ just about any apple variety will work here. I used ‘Royal Gala’ apples in today’s Apple Brown Betty.
Cinnamon and nutmeg. These provide glorious perfume without obliterating the flavor of the apples. You can add surplus spices if you like — ginger comes to mind — but then your Betty might smell like a pumpkin pie. That’s not a bad thing.
Sweetener. Here, I use a small amount of both pure maple syrup here and brown sugar. You can use the sweetener(s) of your choice.
Cut or tear the bread into large pieces. In a food processor, pulse the bread until it forms fine, fluffy crumbs. (My crumbs in the video were neither fine nor fluffy, as I used a baguette with a too-hard crust.) Spread the crumbs out on a baking sheet, and bake them until they turn lightly golden — 8-10 minutes. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl.
Melt the butter in the microwave or on the stove top, and then pour it over the the bread crumbs. Toss to coat.
By hand or by machine, peel, core, and cut the apples into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Put the apples in a bowl, and toss them with the maple syrup, brown sugar, spices, and half of the bread crumbs.
Tip the apple mixture into a well-greased 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining bread crumbs. Cover the dish tightly with a lid or a sheet of aluminum foil.
Bake until the fruit mixture is bubbling — about 40 minutes. Then remove the cover, and continue baking until the bread crumbs have browned and the apples are perfectly tender — about 10 minutes.
Let cool for at least 15 minutes. Serve with or without a splash of heavy cream or a dollop of sour cream, crème fraiche, whipped cream, or ice cream. I served my Betty with vanilla ice cream that I sprinkled with a tiny pinch of ground nutmeg. ‘Twas deliriously delicious.
Hungry for more? I have dozens (and dozens!) of apple recipes right here on this website. To see them, just type “apple” (without quotes) in the search box. Meantime, here are just a few of my favorite apple somethings:
Apple Brown Betty
- 8 ounces (about 8 slices) sandwich bread, torn into large pieces
- 1/2 cup (113g) butter
- 6 (about 2 1/2 pounds) baking apples ('Gala,' etc.), peeled, cored and cut into 1/8-inch slices
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (use more or less to taste)
- 1/3 cup (67g) light or dark brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Center the oven rack and preheat the oven to 375°F. In a food processor, pulse bread until it forms light, fluffy crumbs. Spread the crumbs out on a baking sheet, and bake them until they turn lightly golden -- 8-10 minutes.
- Transfer the bread crumbs to a medium-size bowl. Melt the butter in the microwave or on the stovetop. Add the melted butter to the bread crumbs, and toss to coat.
- Put the apple slices in a large bowl, and toss with the maple syrup. Stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and half of the bread crumbs. Tip the mixture into a 2-quart baking dish. Top with the remaining bread crumbs. Cover the dish tightly.
- Bake until the mixture is bubbling -- about 40 minutes. Then remove the cover, and continue baking until the bread crumbs have browned and the apples are perfectly tender -- about 10 minutes more. Let cool for at least 15 minutes. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream, crème fraiche, or sour cream.