This is one of my long-time favorite desserts. I have been making apple brown betty nearly every fall since I can remember and still love it for its simplicity and sweet fruit flavor. Early in the fall, when the apples are freshest, you may not need to add water to the recipe, but later, as the apples dry out a little, you will need it. I have found McIntosh apples are just about perfect for this dessert, but use any firm, slightly tart apple. If you have leftover French bread, it makes very good crumbs, but any day-old, firm white bread will do. Whatever kind of bread you use, be sure to leave it out on the counter to dry for several hours before cutting it into cubes. Brown bettys should be served still warm. If they are allowed to get too cool, they will collapse a little.
Makes 4 servings.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 cups 1/4-inch bread cubes
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- grated rind of 1 lemon
- 2 pounds large apples
- 2 to 4 tablespoons cold water (optional)
DIRECTIONS Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Combine the nutmeg and the sugar and set aside 2 tablespoons. Put the bread cubes in a bowl and toss with the rest of the sugar mixture, the melted butter, and the lemon rind.
Peel, core, and slice the apples into fairly thick wedges. Line the bottom of a heavy 1 1/2-quart casserole with 1 cup of the bread cubes. Layer half of the apples over the bread and top with 1/2 cup of the bread cubes. Layer the rest of the apples in the casserole and sprinkle with water. Cover with the rest of the bread cubes and evenly sprinkle the reserved 2 tablespoons of sugar over the top. Put the lid on the casserole or cover tightly with foil. Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 40 minutes. Take the lid off the betty, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until apples are tender and the topping is brown.