Seems like I wouldn’t be much of a food blogger if I didn’t throw something apple your way during the fall times. ’Tis the season after all, yes?
I didn’t grow up in apple country, so the whole art of apple picking/apple cider/apple donut/pumpkin patch thing was sort of lost on me. Florida= not the land of Johnny Appleseed’s progeny. As I’ve come to settle in the midwest, the apple thing is a tradition I’ve come to embrace.
One of the desserts that stuck out in my search was Apple Brown Betty, so I thought that i’d make that. I mean, I do have an Auntie Betty, and that seemed like good enough reason.
(I recognize that there is no real correlation between one and the other)
For some history, because that’s what we do here, Apple Brown Betty seems to have originated from the folk in jolly England and is derived from their popular pudding-type dishes (sticky toffee pudding!), and came across the sea and became a fave of the colonists (who landed and lived in the Mid-Atlantic region). There is some debate over how this dessert got its name- some say the lowercase name is after a very round pot made from special red clay from England, while others contend it has more race-related slant. Whatever the origin, the name stuck.
(Random fun fact: yesterday England celebrated Apple Day)
As I searched for recipes for the apple brown Betty, I noticed there were a few hundred ways to make it (actual number). Cubed bread vs. bread crumbs. White bread vs. brioche. Diced apples vs. sliced apples. Cider or no cider, cream or no cream…you get the gist. Therefore, I figured it was a good opportunity to make it my way, like Burger King.
For some reason, I prefer my apples diced rather than sliced, and I thought crumbs would add a good contrast to the apple slices rather than bread cubes. I threw in the flavors of traditional apple pie- cinnamon, ginger and cloves- as well as some apple cider. And bacon, because in the fall we need to make our fruit just a little more decadent. A good, thick-sliced applewood smoked does the trick.
I also decided to make this into 4 single-size servings because I like to make individual dishes to make myself feel special. Plus, portion control! If you have more mouths to feed at a time than one, a square 8 x 8 is what you’ll need.
Finally, for a little something extra extra, I made a brown sugar sweetened vanilla whipped cream. And toasted, salted pecans if you’re nutty like I am. Extra, indeed.
- 3 slices sandwich bread, your choice
- 2 1/2 TB unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/4 pounds apples, your choice (Fuji or McIntosh work well), cored and chopped into a small dice
- 1 TB lemon juice plus rind (from a medium lemon)
- 3 TB light brown sugar
- 2 TB apple cider
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1/8 tsp ground ginger
- 2 slices thick-sliced applewood smoked bacon, chopped into a small dice
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 TB light brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- If your bread is not stale, toast it until crispy and let cool. Add toasted/stale bread to a food processor and pulse into medium fine crumbs, about 2 cups total. Add the melted butter and mix thoroughly.
- In a medium saute pan, add the bacon and cook until most of the fat has cooked out and the pieces are crispy. Remove from pan and set to drain on a paper towel.
- In a large bowl, add the apples, spices, lemon juice, lemon rind, cider and sugar. Add the bacon and 1 cup of the breadcrumbs. Toss everything to coat well and evenly.
- Divide the apple mixture into four butter-lined ramekins or 1 8 x 8 baking dish. Divide the rest of the breadcrumbs atop each ramekins. Cover each ramekin with aluminum foil.
- Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, uncover each ramekin and bake for an additional 15.
- While the betties are baking, add the whipped cream ingredients to a small bowl and with an electric hand mixer or whisk, beat to stiff peaks.
- Once the betties are done baking, top with whipped cream and serve warm.
- Don't like the bacon? Don't add it!
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