From America's Test Kitchen
In its most basic form, apple brown betty contains only four ingredients: apples, bread crumbs, sugar, and butter. Sadly, this simple combination inevitably results in a soggy, mushy mess of a dessert—not the classic Colonial dish of tender, lightly spiced chunks of apple topped with buttery toasted bread crumbs. We decided it was time to give “Betty” a serious makeover.
For a lightly sweetened, crisp crumb topping, we toasted white sandwich bread crumbs with butter and a bit of sugar. The sweet/tart combination of Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples made a not-too-sweet apple filling. Instead of baking the dessert, we prepared it in a skillet on the stovetop and cooked the apples in two batches to ensure even cooking. After preparing the bread crumbs, we removed them from the pan and caramelized the apples. Adding brown sugar to the apples along with ginger and cinnamon gave the dessert a deepened, lightly spiced flavor. The addition of apple cider to the fruit brought moisture and a further dimension of apple flavor; a bit of lemon juice brightened the filling. For a thicker filling, we added a portion of the toasted bread crumbs to the apples and reserved the remainder for sprinkling over the top.
Serves 6 to 8
If your apples are especially tart, omit the lemon juice. If, on the other hand, your apples are exceptionally sweet, use the full amount. A scoop of vanilla ice cream is the perfect accompaniment to this dish. Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container; topped with vanilla yogurt, they make an excellent breakfast.