No doubt the creation of Colonial forebears reluctant to let anything go to waste, apple brown betty is a simple baked fruit dessert traditionally made with apples and leftover bread. Recipes abound in both old and new American cookbooks, but the dish rarely makes it off the page and into the kitchen. That’s because some versions are just unpalatable, with apples that range from dry to mushy to applesauce.
Soggy and mushy just doesn’t cut it in the test kitchen. Caramelizing a blend of Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples gave our version the best flavor, and adding cider to the pan softened them and made the dessert more moist—but not wet. Finally, sprinkling some of the toasted crumbs into the mixture to thicken the juices, while reserving the rest for sprinkling on just before serving, gave this betty one tasty makeover.
BUILDING A SKILLET BROWN BETTY
1. Cook the bread crumb mixture until the crumbs are deep golden brown. Cool the mixture on a paper towel-lined plate.
2. Melt the butter in the empty skillet and cook the apples and the sugar mixture (in two batches) until golden brown.
3. Return all the apples to the pan. Add the cider and cook until lightly thickened.
4. Stir in some bread crumbs to thicken the mixture. Flatten the apple mixture with a spoon and sprinkle with the remaining crumbs.
Want to try for yourself? Check out our Skillet Apple Brown Betty recipe free through November 1st.