Yesterday was National Apple Betty Day! And to celebrate I made Apple Betty.
There are actually two types of Bettys. There’s regular Betty, which is fruit baked with a buttery crumble topping, and Brown Betty, which uses cubes of buttered and toasted stale bread (usually a layer of fruit on the bottom, then a layer of spices and buttered bread, then more fruit, then spiced buttered bread for topping). I am phobic of soggy bread, so I went with a regular Betty. I took the recipe from one of the old Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks, from somewhere in the 1970’s, and mixed it up a bit. Here’s what I did:
- 4 medium-large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4″ thick slices (you could use a mixture of Grannys and another baking apple you like)
- Juice from half a lemon
- 1/2 C light brown sugar
- 1/2 C granulated sugar
- 3/4 C all-purpose flour (you could easily use a different flour here)
- 1/2 C Earth Balance, refrigerator temperature
First peel, core, and slice your apples. I used the 1/4″ setting on my mandoline, but you could do it with the slicing blade of a food processor if your processor will cut thick enough, or with a knife. Toss the lemon juice with the apple slices to keep them from turning brown, then mound them in an 8×8 glass casserole dish. (You could really use any kind of oven-safe dish here… a pie plate would work well too.) The number of apples you use is pretty much up to you… I found that 4 medium-large apples was about right for my dish, but if you use more or less it won’t mess up the recipe.
Then combine the flour, sugar, and brown sugar in a bowl. Cut up your stick of Earth Balance and add it in. Rub the margarine into the flour/sugar mixture with your fingers to make big crumbs of sugar/flour covered margarine bits. You could easily do this in a food processor too, or with a pastry cutter.
Pour the topping over the apples, covering the whole thing with crumbles, and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven until your apples have softened and the topping has browned and crisped. Depending on your pan, start checking at about 20-30 minutes. I cribbed the cooking time out of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, which told me 45 minutes and that was WAY TOO LONG.
Here is the end result:
Now remember I said that I used a 45 minute cooking time, which was too long? Well, the apples in my Betty disintegrated. I essentially ended up with Applesauce Betty. It looked a little gross, and my preference is for firmer fruit, but it actually tasted SO GOOD. It was a really great contrast between the sweet, crispy topping and the slightly tart fruit. I love fruit desserts, and this was so much better than I expected!
See? Applesauce with topping. Looks yuck, but tastes fantastic. I’ll definitely make this recipe again, only with a shorter cooking time, because it was really easy and absolutely delicious.
I didn’t post this yesterday because I also celebrated a belated National Caramel Custard Day, which was on the 3rd, and by the time I was ready to refrigerate the flan I was ready to fall asleep on my feet.
So happy belated National Caramel Custard Day! In honor of the day, I made the Vanilla-Coconut Flan from Viva Vegan by Terry Hope Romero. If you like latin food, you should really get this cookbook.
Now I started working on this while the Betty was in the oven, and I had worked a long day before, so I wasn’t at my best in the kitchen. The first time around I way overboiled the agar powder and it turned into small bits of rubber in my pot. The second try my agar boiled fine, but I managed to boil the pot over once I added the soy milk and coconut milk. But I persevered and had six little flans in my fridge last night!
And fair warning (which Terry emphasizes in the book): melted sugar is the hottest substance on earth, except possibly for lava and molten lead. Don’t get it on yourself! I managed to drip a tiny bit on my left index finger while I was pouring the caramel into the ramekins, and I have a blister the size of a pencil eraser today. It hurt like crazy, so beware!!! Don’t do that!
Today we tried one of the little flans. It came out of the ramekin perfectly, and the caramel turned saucy just like it was supposed to.
Now I have never had dairy and egg-laden flan. Based on what I’ve seen, though, I suspect that the texture on this flan was just a bit firmer than a dairy custard. That could well be a side effect of overboiling the mixture, I don’t know. Still, these came out pretty good! Even though making them is a bit time consuming and filled with burning caramel danger, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be! And it’s pretty! I love individual desserts because you don’t have to share and can poke people with your fork when they get too close.
I’ll be back tonight, since today is National Noodle Day. Not sure how I’ll celebrate yet, but you can bet I will!!!