What is a Brown Betty?

I certainly didn’t know until I set out in search of crisp and found a betty instead.

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        Breadcrumbs instead of flour and oats? Is it a dessert or a breakfast? I still haven’t figured that one out. This is what Wikipedia told me about Brown Bettys. The article says it’s a dessert, usually made with apples, that originated in colonial times. Other recipes I came across said the Brown Betty is a breakfast dish with Southern roots. I love history, especially when it relates to food!
        What drew me to this recipe was the inclusion of cinnamon raisin bread. I’ve been on kind of a cinnamon raisin bread kick recently. I love PB&J on cinnamon raisin and it’s even good for egg sandwiches! Now I know it’s also a delicious addition to baked fruit.
        I made my Brown Betty for dessert but it would make a fantastic breakfast. It’s not sickeningly sweet and all the fruit is a great way to start or end the day. I added some spices and oats to the original recipe. We enjoyed ours with vanilla ice cream, although I thought about toasting a marshmallow in the fireplace and smooshing that on top!

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Gingered Pear-Apple Betty (makes 6 servings)
Adapted from Cooking Light

4 (1 oz) slices cinnamon raisin bread (I used Barowsky’s All Natural)
1/2 cup oats
2.5 cups sliced, pealed pear
2 cups sliced, peeled apple
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons crystalized ginger, chopped
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 – 1 teaspoon cinnamon, depending on taste
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Tear bread into small pieces and process in food processor until finely ground.
Mix oats and bread in a large bowl.
Combine 1 cup bread/oats, pear, apple, sugar, allspice, cinnamon, and both kinds of ginger in a bowl, stirring well.
Spoon this mixture into an oiled 11 x 7 in. baking dish.
Combine remaining bread and butter. Sprinkle over the fruit mix in the dish.
Optional: sprinkled a 1/4 cup or so of sliced almonds on top.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 40 minutes or until bubbly.
It ends up quite crispy with little to no liquid. (If you want it juicier cover it for half the baking time, then remove cover to brown the top.)

5 Comments

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5 Responses to What is a Brown Betty?

  1. Brown betty is made with breadcrumbs–good to know! I think you had a great idea with the toasted marshmallows. I want to try that!

  2. I love apple crisp, so I guess the next step is for me to try a Brown Betty. This sounds amazing, especially with the cinnamon raisin bread!

    • I haven’t had a brown betty in years. Yours looks fantastic!

      • Rachel

        Beth – thank you! I love reviving things people haven’t had for years!

        Jeanne – yep, the cinnamon raisin bread is key. I think it adds a lot of sweetness and keeps the additional sugar relatively low.

        Thanks all for visiting!

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