Apple Brown Betty
By Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime
Today is the last day for recipes in #AppleWeek. I’ve had so much fun! And the theme for today is “Anything Apple Goes!!!”
It had just been 3-4 weeks ago that Bill was asking me about a Brown Betty, so this one was really the first I decided on for #AppleWeek.
It really is an older recipe which dates back to the late 19th century, and is also referred to as scalloped apples, although many people relate it to the apple crisp, which is made with flour or flour and sometimes oats. This is also said to be a favorite recipe of Ronald and Nancy Reagan (according to Wiki), but in the White House Family Cookbook, Henry Haller explains that it was a favorite dessert of Nancy. This jibes with what I knew from back when the Reagans were in the White House, and a friend of mine passed along a recipe for persimmon pudding that was said to be the favorite of Ronald. Both very traditional recipes for a very traditional family.
I did refer to the oldest recipe I could find for the Brown Betty so it would be as authentic as it could be, which turned out to be in the Fannie Farmer cookbook. That book dates back to 1896. In that book, it is said to be served with either cream or a Maryland Sauce, which is slightly similar to a sabayon sauce, except it is made with brandy. You can refer to that volume if you want to make it, but I will skip that part today.
The apples I decided to use are an heirloom variety called Roxbury Russet, but you can use any type of baking apple. The Roxbury Russets are the oldest apple cultivar known to be grown in the United States, widely grown throughout the 17th century, especially in Massachusetts. It seemed right for this recipe.
They are not very attractive though, with a rough skin and most are small, with a brown and gold mottled appearance. Quite different from the apple I spied at the market today with beautiful reddish gold skin and was as big as a softball. I’ve never seen an apple so big! But just use what you can find- I feel blessed being in Ohio with so many orchards nearby- you know Ohio is the land of Johnny Appleseed.
And about him: he wasn’t some generous man who went about willy nilly scattering apple seeds throughout the state just to be nice. Back in those days, if someone homesteaded property, they needed to get fruit trees growing as part of the deal. And many European apples didn’t do so well here. But Johnny, being a savvy businessman, went about scooping up property early on, planting the trees and getting them going, and reselling them for profit. The original home flipper, right? And apples back then weren’t the lovelies we have today, but ones that were mostly used to make hard cider. Apparently city water wasn’t so good if you were pioneering out in the woods. And making cider was a natural way to made beverage that was not contaminated.
But anyway. I hope you enjoy this as either a nice breakfast or dessert. And don’t forget to see the remaining recipes that posted today in the list below. I have one more apple recipe I am hoping to post tomorrow- but it is not technically part of apple week. Then on to Sunday Supper and my last Oktoberfest recipe. And next week is #PumpkinWeek, so brace yourselves! C’ya-
Apple Brown Betty
- 6 slices sandwich bread (3 cups)
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 quart sliced fresh apples (baking apples, no peel, no core)
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch nutmeg
- 1/2 cup hot apple cider
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Butter a square glass baking dish.
- Pulse bread slices in a food processor to make soft crumbs and toss with the melted butter.
- Toss apples with the lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Place 1/3 the bread crumbs in the bottom of the baking dish.
- Top the bottom layer of crumbs with half the apples, then add 1/3 more bread crumbs, the remaining apples, then the last of the bread crumbs.
- Drizzle the cider over all.
- Cover pan with foil and bake 30 minutes.
- Uncover pan and bake 35-40 minutes more; serve warm.
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