Apples can be traced back to the Romans and Egyptians. They introduced this ancient fruit to the British who, in turn, brought it to America. We still remember Johnny Appleseed and the work he did to spread trees across several states.

Statisticians say Americans eat about 120 apples apiece each year.

One thing about apples is that the fruit will last just about all year so we will be able to get them at the supermarket – just not here in the country – for those desserts, cakes and pies we like so much. Of course, we can use the canned apples if we have to.

One of the oldest desserts, in addition to America’s number one favorite apple pie, is Apple Brown Betty. It dates back to Colonial days.

I always wondered why anyone would name a dessert “betty;” that is, until I learned that a “betty” is a baked pudding made with layers of sweetened, spiced fruit and buttered breadcrumbs. It is usually served with a lemon sauce and/or whipped cream.

Apple Brown Betty is probably the most familiar betty. It is made with sliced apples and brown sugar – hence the “brown of Brown Betty. Over the years this recipe has changed, like most old recipes, as well as its name – Apple Pan Dowdy, Apple Crunch and Apple Crisp all seem similar.

Just as the name changes, so do ingredients and cooking methods. I like to read the ingredients and pick out a recipe that has everything I like. You can do that too, and find a favorite among one of these recipes.

Apple Brown Betty

4 cups soft white breadcrumbs

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1 cup apple cider

Stir together breadcrumbs and butter. Stir together brown sugar and cinnamon. Place half of the apple slices in a lightly greased 12x8-inch baking dish; sprinkle apples with half of brown sugar mixture and half of breadcrumb mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining apples, brown sugar mixture, and breadcrumb mixture. Pour apple cider over top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Apple Brown Betty

1/4 cup butter or margarine

3 cups biscuit crumbs

10 medium-size cooking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 tbsp. butter or margarine

3 tbsp. brown sugar

Melt 1/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add biscuit crumbs and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until browned. Set aside.

Place apples in large Dutch oven with water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until apples are tender; drain. Mash apples until pulpy; stir in sugar and cinnamon.

Alternate layers of apple mixture in a 9-inch square baking dish, beginning with apple mixture and ending with crumbs. Dot top with 2 tbsp. butter, and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake at 350 degrees about 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve hot. Makes 8 servings.

Slow-Cooker Apple-

Pecan Crisp

5 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

2 tbsp. lemon juice

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 cup cold butter

3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans

Vanilla Ice Cream

Place apples in a lightly greased 6-qt. Slow cooker; drizzle with lemon juice, toss to coat.

Combine flour and next three ingredients in a medium bowl. Cut butter into four mixture with a pastry blender or 2 forks until mixture resembles coarse meal; sprinkle over apples.

Cover and cook on HIGH 3 hours or until apples are tender. Sprinkle with pecans. Serve warm with ice cream. Makes 6 servings.

NOTE: Be sure to check the apples at 2 hours because overcooking can make them mushy.

Apple Pan Dowdy

4 1/2 cups sliced apples

1/2 cup light molasses

1/4 cup water

3 tbsp. butter or margarine

2 cups packed brown sugar

3 tbsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

3/4 cup milk

Preheat over to 375 degrees. Bring apples, molasses, butter and water to a boil. Turn into greased 8x8x2-inch baking dish. Combine biscuit mix, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well. Add milk all at once and stir just until moist. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto hot apples. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve with cream. Makes 6-8 servings.

Terrific Apple Crunch

5 green apples or fresh pears or peaches

1/4 cup water

1 cup plus 3 tbsp. sugar

2 tbsp. brown sugar

1 cup flour

1 egg1/2 cup butter or margarine melted

Whipped cream or ice cream

Peel the apples and slice them into thin wedges. Place them in the bottom of 12x7-inch baking dish. Add water. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar and the brown sugar. In a bowl, mix remaining sugar, flour and egg. Blend until crumbly. Sprinkle over apples. Pour butter over all and bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

— Judy O’Daniel’s “Country Gourmet” column appears each Wednesday in the Times-Journal. This column originally ran Oct. 17, 2007.

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