Apple Betty

Town, I read your post about Spinach pasta and I understand the sentiment – sometimes life just runs away carrying off the best of our intentions and a person is left picking up the pieces. That was my week too.

Every day this week, Sweet Baboo and I ate out. Long work days and errands made it impossible to be home before bedtime. That meant that all the groceries in the larder weren’t depleted this weekend and it was time to figure out what to do with some of the more perishable items. My lunch is generally a big Gala apple dipped in just a little dulce de leche. Even though I had counted out the days, somehow I still had 4 apples left. Thinking about my mom’s pies, I knew what I had to do:

Apple Betty

We had Apple Betty several times for dessert when I was growing up. I loved it – the thick, crunchy-edged, chewy oatmeal crust was the perfect foil for tender apples marinating in their own juice and nestled amongst tiny tapioca pearls underneath. When I left home, I asked mom many times about how to make it and she never could recall what she did. After many futile attempts to find the recipe in old cookbooks and on the internet, I started to wonder if the reason mom couldn’t send me the recipe was because it was her invention. I’d just have to figure it out myself. Ever one for a challenge, I kept experimenting until this rendition came out of the oven. It’s just right!

We made a lot of apple juice this fall. Sweet Baboo drinks a big glass of it every morning to wash down his breakfast muffin. The glass he uses only holds about 3 cups, so there is generally a jar with 1 cup of juice in it on a refrigerator shelf every other day. Out it came.

about 1 cup of apple juice

Now is the tricky part. Sweet Baboo has professed an overriding loathing for tapioca. HEARTBREAKING, no? So I have to be quiet.

pearl tapioca

My secret stash of pearl tapioca.

one eighth cup

Measure out 1/8 cup of tapioca. My mother uses Minute Tapioca which is parboiled and can be thrown right in before the whole thing is baked. I like to soak regular pearl tapioca in a flavourful liquid myself – can’t bring myself to trust “the man” to do this for me – besides, the parboiled stuff is cooked in water. That’s not very exciting. In my opinion, it is worth the extra effort.

I love tapioca. Like wild rice, it expands tremendously, so a little goes a long way. Don’t make my mistake and think that more is more. Putting more than 1/8 cup in this recipe means you have a dessert full of tooth-breaking white miniature golf balls that you have to throw out – it won’t be edible. Trust me, I’ve done it and the outcome is nothing short of grisly.

Ok, pour the tapioca into the apple juice.

in the drink

One hour later, the tiny beads will have grown:

after an hour soaking

Magic!

Now the rest of the dessert can be assembled. Grab a stick of butter.

I love that they mark the measurements on the side! Slice off 2 Tbsp to put in a pan to melt.

I love that they mark the measurements on the side! Slice off 2 Tbsp to put in a pan to melt.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine

  • 1 1/2 cups oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (or either white or brown sugar)
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
oats in maple syrup and butter

Let this delightful melange sit for a few minutes to soak up the juices.

While it would be easy to make this dessert in a nice round casserole and make it family-style, I prefer individual servings. This WILL bubble over in the oven, so place a sheet of aluminum foil on a baking sheet underneath the serving dish of your choice to catch any bubbly overruns.

custard cups at the ready

Now put a scant spoonful of the oatmeal mixture in the bottom of each dish, or enough to spottily cover the bottom. This helps to soak up some of the juices during cooking.

scant teaspoon on the bottom

It’s time to spoon the tapioca AND juice in evenly over the oatmeal.

spooning out the frog eyes in the cups

It’s time to turn the oven on so it can preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Now for the beauteous apples.

4 gala apples

Quarter, core and then dice the apples. Add them to the dish.

apples in

Now carefully top the apples with the remaining oatmeal mixture.

ready for oven

Put the Apple Betty in the oven and set a timer for 1 hour.

Voila!

done

I like Apple Betty cold, but today I couldn’t resist and had one straight from the oven. YUM!

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4 thoughts on “Apple Betty

  1. You know, Town, the pearls practically disappear – they become the thickener. Much better than using a roux or cornstarch for this application. My mom used tapioca for all her fruit pies when I was growing up and I came to love it with any fruit. I know it is heresy to say this, but tapioca pudding looks wrong and bad to me – it should be with fruit. After all, it’s a vegetable!

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