The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Apple Brown Betty

October 19th, 2009 · No Comments · Posted in Recipes

Apple season has definitely arrived

Apple season has definitely arrived

Is it apple picking time already?

In honor of the occasion, I’m reviving this recipe for a ridiculously simple apple dessert. We made apple brown Betty in our food appreciation classes last year and it was an instant hit. In the best tradition of good, simple food, it relies on the humblest of ingredients: apples, brown sugar and bread crumbs. Oh, and for flavor some cinnamon and lemon.

It’s starting to sound good already, yes?

The first time I saw this recipe in Marjorie Mosser’s classic Good Maine Food, I was immediately sold. Apple brown Betty is a bit like apple crisp, but involves a process of assembling the apples in layers with bread crumbs and the other ingredients.

The idea of bulking out the apple mix with bread crumbs is pure genius. Tasting the finished dessert, you would never know they were there. Brown Betty easily passes for poverty fare, but just as surely deserves a place in our lexicon of great comfort foods.

We baked ours in a deep (3 inches) but small (6 inches across) cake pan, initially covered, but then removing the the cover so the top layer of bread crumbs could brown. The mix sinks into the pan, forming the most delicious near-pudding that we served with whipped cream (it is wonderful with ice cream as well).

To make enough Brown Betty for four persons, have ready 2 cups peeled and chopped apples (such a Macintosh), 1 cup fresh bread crumbs (we processed a rustic loaf from Whole Foods, but whole wheat would work well, I think), 1/4 cup chilled butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, zest (chopped fine) and juice from 1/2 lemon, 1/4 cup hot water.

Grease a small, deep cake pan or souffle dish and lay a layer of chopped apple on the bottom. Dust with some bread crumbs, dot with some butter, sprinkle on some brown sugar, cinnamon and lemon zest, and add some of the lemon juice. Repeat this process in three layers, or until all the ingredients are used up. Pour the water over the top.

Place in a 350-degree oven, covered, for 40 minutes. Remove the cover and bake another 10 or 15 minutes to brown the top layer of bread crumbs. The mix will probably have sunk one third in volume and turned a golden brown. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before spooning it into individual bowls and serving with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Note: I don’t think this dish would be nearly as good with canned bread crumbs. For fresh bread crumbs, remove the crust from thick slices of bread, break the bread into pieces and pulse it in a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you could just tear the bread into small pieces with your fingers.

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