The charming old Apple Brown Betty, dating from colonial times, is related to a cobbler or bread pudding. Basically, a “betty” is a baked dessert comprised of a layering of spiced, sweetened fruit with buttered bread cubes or crumbs. The most well known “betty” is the apple brown “betty”, which of course features apples.
The crumbs for a “betty” can be toasted white bread or oats, but graham crackers, untraditional until the 1950’s, make a fabulous accompaniment to apples, either mixed with or as a replacement for the breadcrumbs. Instead of layering, mixing all thoroughly in a bowl is also good.
I was going through some old materials in a box and came across a recipe my late aunt used to use; I haven’t had this dessert in decades now. Many people I ask have heard of Apple Brown Betty, but none have ever eaten any.
I baked some the other day and it was excellent. Not quite a bread pudding, nor a cobbler, but a delightful hybrid. Many times when re-visiting something from the past, it’s not the same as you remembered, but apple brown betty certainly is a wonderful dessert.
Here is the old recipe.
Apple Brown Betty serves 6
1-cup soft bread crumbs (Or replace with crushed graham crackers or a flaked cereal)
4 tablespoons of butter
2 teaspoons of grated orange peel
½ cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
4 medium apples; peeled, cored and sliced or diced
¼ cup, approximately, of orange juice
Preheat oven to 375F/190C.
Mix everything except the apples and orange juice in a bowl
Put half of the prepared apples in a buttered baking dish
Cover with half of the crumb mixture
Add remaining apple slices and cover with remaining crumb mixture
Sprinkle with the orange juice.
Cover and bake for 45 minutes. I didn’t, but you can uncover and crisp the top for ten minutes or so.
You could serve this with cream, custard sauce, vanilla cream sauce, or any dessert sauce. We liked it with vanilla ice cream.