Drinks and Puddings

Apple Brown Betty

By: Kate Davies

Warm apples, brown buttery-crisp topping, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Many of us know this dessert as Apple Crisp, but I like the old-fashioned name Apple Brown Betty because it reminds me of my paternal grandmother, Betty O’Connor. I haven’t used a recipe for this in decades, so I’ve made a few batches and recorded my steps. Once you get a feel for how you like your Apple Betty, you can practically make it in your sleep. I’m pretty sure this was the first recipe I ever made on my own.

Granny Smiths are a classic baking apple, but I like to thrown in a few sweeter apples to contrast the firm texture and super tart flavor of the Grannies. MacIntosh, Jonagold, or your favorite reddish eating apple work very well. The sweeter apples break down more quickly, forming a liquid base that helps to cook the firmer apples down.

For the topping, you’ll end up with a crumbly texture if you start with cold butter, and a doughy texture if you start with tempered butter. I like to work with softer butter, because it blends well with the other ingredients. And yes, the topping has a ton of butter. The excess butter and the sugar melt out of the crisp topping and into the apple pieces below. Often I throw in a few oats or pecans after I’ve blended the flour, sugar, and butter together with the cinnamon. They add a bit of texture, crunch, and toasty flavor. After 30 minutes in the oven it all bakes into to a caramelly, rich apple puree with a golden and crispy top.

Good quality vanilla ice cream is mandatory. I’ve tried whipped cream in a pinch, and it was disappointing. Serve the Betty warm or hot with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top, and dig in as the ice cream starts to melt.

Apple Brown Betty

Print Recipe
Serves: 8-10 Cooking Time: 1 hour


  • 6-8 apples, mostly Granny Smith with a few others thrown in for flavor and texture contrast
  • 8 oz/226g butter, cubed. Can be cold or room temp
  • 4 oz/113g brown sugar
  • 4 oz/113g white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 8 oz/226g all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats or chopped pecans
  • pinch of salt



Peel, core, and chop apples into small chunks.


In a food processor with a blade, combine the butter, sugars, cinnamon, flour, salt, and oats/nuts if using.


Process until the butter is well incorporated.


If using a hand mixer, beat until the batter is crumbly, not totally homogenous.


Spread the apples in a glass baking dish.


Using your fingers, break off pieces of the topping and sprinkle them evenly over the apples.


Bake in a 350°F/176°C oven for about 35 minutes, or until the top is browning and the apple filling is bubbly.


Please don't forget the ice cream.

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