Gone Apple Picking? Try an Apple Brown Betty

October 16, 2011
by Julie Wormser

 

Hundreds of New Englanders flock to Shelburne Farms  to pick sweet-tart Cortlands and Macintoshes and sample their cider donuts and caramel apples. Pre-Farmers to You, I would pick bushels of apples at a time and turn them into gallons of applesauce, sheets of fruit leather and jars of dried apple rings.  All good, mind you, but nothing compared to New England apples fresh off the tree.  What sold us on FTY last March was the fact that their farmers magically stored their apples in such a way that they still had that just-picked crunch months later.  A miracle!

What to do if you pick too many apples?

Make a pie, of course.  Or a crisp.  A buckle?  A slump?  A grunt?  Many of these sturdy desserts harken back to the days of wood stoves and root cellars.  They’re not particularly fussy, and they work well using the whole grain flours and maple syrup sold by FTY.  King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking has good recipes for each of these.

In general:

* Crisps, crumbles and Brown Betty’s are all about the toppings.  Crumbles have mushier oat toppings, crisps are, well, crispier.  A Brown Betty folds bread or cake crumbs in with the apples to form a pudding texture.

* Cobblers, grunts and slumps are topped with dumplings or biscuits.  Although they are generally baked, they can be made on a stove top, just as one would make a savory stew with dumplings.  This is where the “grunt” comes from–it’s the sound the hot fruit makes as it burps through the dumpling dough.

* Finally, an apple pandowdy (love the name!) is like a very messy pie where  one purposely breaks up the cooked top crust and pushes it down into the hot fruit so it gets gooey.  I can imagine that quite a few of these desserts were named on the spot to compensate for kitchen mishaps!

Here’s a recipe for Apple Brown Betty.  It’s my favorite because it reminds me of the town clerk in my hometown (Marblehead) whose name was Betty Brown.

Apple Brown Betty
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Ingredients
  • 7 cups apples (I'd go with Cortland if you like them to keep their shape, Macintosh if you like it gloopier), peeled, cored and sliced
  • ¼ cup plus ½ cup maple sugar or syrup
  • ⅓ cup apple cider
  • 1½ cups bread crumbs
  • 6 T melted butter or sunflower oil
  • 2 t cinnamon (cardamom is also great instead of cinnamon)
  • 1 t nutmeg
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 2 T finely chopped walnuts
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 1½ quart baking dish
  2. To make the filling, combine apple slices, ¼ cup maple sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cider and lemon juice in a medium bowl.
  3. To make the topping, combine bread crumbs, oats, ½ cup maple sugar and melted butter or oil.
  4. Sprinkle a thin layer of topping over the bottom of the baking dish. Spoon half the apple mixture over the crumbs and top with half the remaining crumb mixture along with the walnuts. Spoon the rest of the fruit into the dish and sprinkle the rest of the crumbs over the top.
  5. Cover the betty and bake for 30 minute, then uncover. Bake 20 minutes more, until the topping is brown and the apples are soft and bubbly.
  6. Serve warm topped with plain or maple yogurt or cheddar cheese.

 

Apple Brown Betty – King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking (pp. 103-4)

Farmers To You Ingredients:

7 cups apples (I’d go with Cortland if you like them to keep their shape, Macintosh if you like it gloopier), peeled, cored and sliced

1/4 cup plus 1/2 cup maple sugar or syrup

1/3 cup apple cider

1 1/2 cups bread crumbs

6 T melted butter or sunflower oil

 

Other Ingredients:

2 t cinnamon (cardamom is also great instead of cinnamon)

1 t nutmeg

1 T lemon juice

1/2 cup rolled oats

2 T finely chopped walnuts

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 1 1/2 quart baking dish

To make the filling, combine apple slices, 1/4 cup maple sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cider and lemon juice in a medium bowl.

To make the topping, combine bread crumbs, oats, 1/2 cup maple sugar and melted butter or oil.

Sprinkle a thin layer of topping over the bottom of the baking dish.  Spoon half the apple mixture over the crumbs and top with half the remaining crumb mixture along with the walnuts.  Spoon the rest of the fruit into the dish and sprinkle the rest of the crumbs over the top.

Cover the betty and bake for 30 minute, then uncover.  Bake 20 minutes more, until the topping is brown and the apples are soft and bubbly.

 

Serve warm topped with plain or maple yogurt or cheddar cheese.

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