Monday, September 28, 2009

Martha Mondays: Apple Brown Betty

"What's an apple brown betty?" my husband asked, when I started my Martha Mondays assignment late last night. You see, an apple brown betty isn't well known here in the Midwest. We're more familiar with its cousin, the apple crisp. In this apple brown betty recipe from the Martha Stewart Web site, toasted bread crumbs replace the oats in the Iowa-version of the apple crisp. And my favorite apple crisp recipe uses a whole lot more brown sugar, so the end result is almost caramelized.

I was reluctant to tinker with one of my favorite desserts, but I was willing to give the apple brown betty a try. It certainly was an easy recipe, with a minimal number of ingredients. And I always like an excuse to break out my food processor, this time to create the bread crumbs from scratch.

Unfortunately, I ran into problems early on. When I baked the bread crumbs for 8 minutes, they came out of the oven nearly burnt to a char. I salvaged what I could to finish the recipe.

The dessert smelled great -- a terrific combination of cinnamon and melted butter. Not sure if the photos really do the dessert justice, it looked pretty impressive coming out of the oven. My husband added the zinnia flower in the above photo, just to pretty it up. But this betty looks great piled on plate.

I have to admit, though, that it still doesn't compare to an apple crisp (made of Iowa-grown apples, of course). My sister gave me this recipe for apple crisp, which was given to her by a friend's mom. It is absolutely the best!

Mom's rhubarb crisp

  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. all purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. quick oats
  • 1/2 c. melted butter
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 c. sliced apples (or rhubarb)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 Tbls. cornstarch
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

In a bowl, mix brown sugar, flour, oats, butter, cinnamon until crumbly. Press 1/2 the mixture into butterd 8-inch square pan. Top with apples (or rhubarb). In a sauce pan, mix sugar, water cornstarch, vanilla until clear. Pour syrup mixture over apples. Top with remaining crumb mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream (Iowa-made Blue Bunny ice cream, of course!)

Thanks, Martha and Me! Once again, it was a fun challenge.


  1. It looks beautiful and I love the zinnia. Is that from your garden? I'm originally from Wisconsin and do miss the midwest so thanks for a bit of home :)

  2. Yes, the flower is from my garden. But I just realized that it's not a zinnia. It's a dahlia. I'm still new to gardening, so I get the names mixed up. I have family that lives in La Crosse, WI, so I try to visit as much as I can. It's a beautiful state, and I love those dairy farms! Thanks for the nice comment!

  3. I agree, it sure smelled good in the oven but Most people seem to like their old tried and true Crisp better. I forgot to add the butter to mine. :( I decided not to post because I screwed it up and the pictures are horrible. It looks so dry without the butter.

  4. That's funny! I thought I had a disaster on my hands, too, with the burnt bread crumbs. I thought the dessert would probably come out of the oven looking terrible, but it ended up looking just fine.

  5. Yours looks great, very yummy. I grew up in Michigan with great apples! My mom still makes the best apple pie. I too like my apple crisp recipe better.

    Funny Megan, mine looks dry and I added extra butter, but I used whole wheat bread. It tasted fine just looked funny. It was such an easy recipe.


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