Apple Brown Betty

A traditional American dessert with a holiday all its own.

By Elizabeth Semrai

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Apple lovers, rejoice! It's apple season! Did you know there are about a dozen annual celebrations in the U.S. to honor this perfect fruit? And we're not the only ones to fête it: England celebrates Apple Day each year on October 21.

Since apples make such wonderful fall desserts, someone (a baker, no less) decided to proclaim October 5 Apple Betty Day. It's an informal holiday, yes, but a truly sweet occasion to celebrate a traditional American dessert.

Here's a brief history lesson on the Apple Brown Betty: The dessert is said to have originated in colonial times, when apples were often used to sweeten dishes. The recipe was first published in the 1864 Yale Literary Magazine as "brown Betty." Brown was lowercase and Betty was capitalized, probably referring to a specific person. Whoever the lady was, the dessert is a favorite autumn recipe made with lovely apples, spices, and layers of crumbs — bread crumbs, oats, or, as in our recipe below, a crumble.

So here's to you, Betty. Happy Apple Betty Day!

More From Elizabeth Semrai

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Dots of butter, plus extra for greasing the pan
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting pan
5 to 6 Gala apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 cups light or dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 9x9-inch baking dish.

2. In small bowl, toss apples with cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.

3. In large bowl, combine flour and brown sugar in mixer on low speed. Slowly add butter until mixture has a sand-like consistency.

4. Cover baking dish with 1/4-inch layer of crumble mixture. Add layer of apples, but do not press down. Continue alternating layers of crumble and apples. Finish with layer of crumble. Dot with butter.

5. Cover with foil and bake 80 to 90 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Serves 6


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