Apple Brown Betty is an apple pie without the crust. The recipe was developed during America’s colonial times and has survived, so it must be good!
Apple Brown Betty is a tasty fall dessert.
October is National Apple Month and October 5 is Apple Brown Betty Day, both good excuses for making this sweet dessert. Brown Betty is a traditional way to serve fruit dessert—Apple Brown Betty, Blueberry Brown Betty, Peach Brown Betty—you get the idea. It’s similar to a fruit pie but much simpler since you won’t need to make a crust. The top crust is made from small cubes of bread, toasted in butter, with walnuts added.
Just about any good bread will do for the topping. You can even use homemade Gluten Free White Bread. In the next section I tell you how Apple Brown Betty got its name.
How Did Apple Brown Betty Get It’s Name?
Consensus seems to be that a woman named Betty created it and it was the color of her skin, rather than the color of the dessert, that helped determine the name. Here’s something I found on Quora, written by Aaron Percefull:
“The story behind this classic dessert is somewhat nebulous. The Oxford Companion to Fooddeduced [says] that there was in fact a real ‘Betty’ of African-American descent for which the dish is named. It is believed that “brown” wasn’t referring to the dish, but to the cook herself, who may have been of mixed racial background. During colonial times it was common to name desserts after people, and there is further speculation that this Betty might have been a slave. The recipe, made from Granny Smith apples, lemon juice, sugar, sandwich bread, butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar, was first published in the Yale Literary Magazine as ‘brown Betty’ in 1864.”
What You Need
This one’s simple. I used a knife, cutting board, small food processor, cast iron frying pan, and a beautiful pie plate and server. Sometimes I use individual ramekins (affiliate link) instead of a pie plate.
Apple Brown Betty RecipePrint
Apple Brown Betty
Apple pie without the crust
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 8 1x
- Category: Dessert, Pie
- Cuisine: American
- 3 slices good bread (with crusts removed and cut into 1/4 inch squares)
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided, save 1 tablespoon to butter the pie plate)
- 1/2 cup walnuts (chopped fine in a food processor)
- 3 large Granny Smith apples (about 4 cups sliced apples)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- Heat the oven to 350F degrees.
- Melt the butter in a skillet over medium low heat.
- Toss the bread cubes in the butter with the finely chopped walnuts. Set aside.
- Slice or dice the apples, removing the stem and core. Toss them with the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and corn starch until thoroughly coated.
- Pour the apple mixture into a buttered pie plate or individual ramekins.
- Bake in the heated oven for about 30 minutes, until the fruit filling is soft and bubbly.
- Remove the pie from the oven and spread the bread cube mixture over the top. (See note for gluten free option.)
- Return the Apple Brown Betty to the oven for 15 minutes more—until the filling is done and the top has browned.
- Let cool before cutting.
- Serve with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or half and half. But it’s great just by itself, too!
For a gluten-free version substitute gluten free panko bread crumbs for the cubed wheat bread.
- Serving Size: Serving
- Calories: 95
- Sugar: 0.1 g
- Sodium: 395.3 mg
- Fat: 6.3 g
- Saturated Fat: 3.7 g
- Trans Fat: 0.1 g
- Carbohydrates: 2.2 g
- Fiber: 0.1 g
- Protein: 7.4 g
- Cholesterol: 18 mg
Keywords: Apple Brown Betty, apple pie
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Recipe Nutrition Information
This recipe is SF, EF, V*
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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GF = Gluten free | DF = Dairy free | NF = Nut free | SF = Soy free | EF = Egg free | CF = Corn free | V = Vegetarian | VG = Vegan
Note: If you have serious allergies or sensitivities, to be considered free of these allergens, you need to use products specifically marked “gluten free,” etc. There can be cross-contamination in facilities.
This post was first published on Recipe Idea Shop August 8, 2016 and updated October 5, 2021.