Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Apple Brown Betty

Sorry I've been a bit absent in recent weeks, folks! It's been a busy one, S and I made a resolution early this summer that we would do our best to get out of the city to hike and swim as much as possible, and we've done a pretty good job of it! We've been out in the country camping essentially every other weekend since June.  To make up for all that travel, during the week I've been picking up as much work as I can, making very little time for creating and photographing tasty treats for y'all. 

The weekend before labor day, however, the wonderful food stylist Frances Boswell, who I've been assisting on a very cool long term project over at Martha Stewart (shhh, I can't tell you what it is yet), asked if S and I would like to stay in her country home in Connecticut. Of course we said yes. And we had just a lovely time. On our very first day we went for a hike nearby and found a wild apple tree heavily laden with fruit. S boldly sampled one, and found the apples to be less bitter than your typical wild apple, tart and crisp with a light sweet note. I quickly filled S's handkerchief with a dozen of the little guys, tied them up into a little package, and tucked them away for later.  

Back at the house I planned to make baked oatmeal, but we hadn't brought any oats, and a quick glance through the kitchen cabinets didn't produce any, so I surveyed our groceries, thought about what my mother would do, and in short order I was assembling an Apple Brown Betty. This was one of my mother's wintertime treats when I was a kid. Soft, buttery bread layered with baked apple and all coated in ooey-gooey melty brown sugar.

 S and I enjoyed big bowls of Apple Brown Betty topped with fresh whipped cream out on the deck, watching the moon rise over a field of wild flowers. The wild apples were lovely when baked, and barely needed any sweetening, they were soft and juicy and just perfect. No need to go searching for a wild apple tree however, you can use any type of apple you like in this dish. Enjoy!

Apple Brown Betty

2 lbs Apples 
8 Slices Whole Wheat Bread
3/4 C Butter
1 1/4 C Brown Sugar
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Tsp Ginger
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/3 C Water

Whipped Cream

1 C Heavy Cream
1/4 C Powdered Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat the oven to 375F and generously butter a 8" baking pan. 
Core the apples and cut into 1/2" cubes, toss with 2 tbsp of the brown sugar, set aside.  Cube the bread into 1/2" cubes. Cut butter into small pieces, smaller than the apples or bread.

Sprinkle a layer of bread, top with a layer of apple, then sprinkle with butter pieces and brown sugar, then continue with another layer of bread, then apples, then butter and brown sugar until all are used.

In a small bowl, combine the vanilla extract and water and stir together. Using a spoon, sprinkle the water over the entire surface of the brown betty, then cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes, remove cover, and bake another 5 minutes until brown and toasty on top. 

While apple brown betty bakes, whisk together the heavy cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Top each serving of Apple Brown Betty with a healthy dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy!