"Have you ever heard of apple betty?"

I recently asked that question to a group here at King Arthur Flour – with surprising results.

Our King Arthur Web team is a good focus group for this kind of cultural touch-point question. With members ranging in age from mid-20s to over 60, and hitting every decade along the way, we're a pretty fair representation of generational America.

But my question, rather than inspiring a burst of enthusiastic comments – "I LOVE apple betty!" – elicited only blank stares.

Whoops.

And here I am, putting together a blog post on a dessert I figured everyone had at least heard of, if not actually experienced.

Apple betty was one of those things everyone's mom made in the fall, usually out of windfall apples from the backyard apple tree, or after the family had gone on an apple-picking outing.

It was fast and easy, at least by the standards of those days. And better yet, it used leftovers or about-to-be-throwaways: "older" apples, stale bread.

There was always a bit of confusion surrounding the dish, however. Some moms made apple crisp – and called it betty. Some made betty – and called it crumble.

What IS apple betty, anyway?

As it happens, apple betty is a cross between bread pudding and apple crisp/crumble. Layers of buttered bread crumbs alternate with sweetened fruit, the whole baked to a bubbling casserole of buttery, cinnamon-y, fruity deliciousness.

"Betty" is a treatment that isn't relegated solely to apples: Maine has its blueberry betty.

And now, with peach season in full and glorious swing, we offer you aromatic, comforting Peach Betty.

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First, prepare your fruit. Four large peaches (about 2 to 2 1/4 pounds fresh fruit) will yield about 4 cups peach slices, which is our goal here. Peel the peaches, remove the pits, and slice.

Easiest way to peel peaches? Hint: It doesn't involve a knife. See our easy peach-peeling tutorial.

 

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To prepare the crumbs: Mix 3 cups fresh bread crumbs (made from about 6 slices bread) with 1/3 cup melted butter, stirring to combine.

"Should" the bread have its crust cut off? Leave on the crust if you like, cut it off if you prefer; the baking police have left the building.

To prepare the peaches:  Stir together the following –

4 cups sliced peaches, fresh or frozen/thawed/drained
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt*
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
*Reduce the salt to 1/8 teaspoon if you're using salted butter with the crumbs.

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To assemble the betty: Place 1/3 of the crumbs in the bottom of the prepared pan. Top with half the peaches.

Spread half the remaining crumbs atop the peaches. Top with the remaining peaches.

Sprinkle the remaining crumbs evenly on top.

Cover the casserole or pan with a lid or aluminum foil.

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Bake the betty for 40 minutes, until bubbling.

Remove the cover, increase the oven heat to 400°F, and and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove the betty from the oven.

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Serve hot or warm, with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.

Honestly, I encourage you to try this dessert. It's not flashy, like peach shortcake. And it's not mainstream, like peach cobbler. Rather, it's like that favorite old pair of jeans you keep in the closet and wear on weekends: comforting, familiar, and somehow just right.

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Peach Betty.

Print just the recipe.

 

PJ Hamel
The Author

About PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

View all posts by PJ Hamel