Vintage Recipe: 1930s New England Apple Brown Betty

This simple, wholesome recipe for New England Brown Betty is made with a handful of ingredients and is adapted from my 1936 copy of The Boston Cooking School Cook Book. It’s a good way to make use of stale bread, too, which I happened to have handy. Speaking of handy things, I also made my first-ever batch of 100% hand whipped cream with my new rotary beater! It wasn’t difficult at all!

1936 Boston Cooking School

Brown Betty Vintage New England Recipe (1)

Instead of sugar I used dark amber maple syrup we bought at a local farm on Maine Maple Sunday and for bread I used the heel of my homemade gluten-free buckwheat seed bread. I subbed ready-made lemon juice for the fresh squeezed juice and rind since I normally do not have lemons on hand.


2 cups crumbs from the bread of your choice

1/4 cup melted butter

4 cups sliced (I used Gala) apples with the skins on which is approximately one pound when sliced

1/4 cup Grade A Dark Amber maple syrup

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tbsp lemon juice added to 1/2 cup hot water

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Place crumbs in a bowl. If using stale bread first cut into small squares and then add to the bowl and use a fork to make bread crumbs. Add the nutmeg and mix with a fork followed by the melted butter and mix once more. Place half the crumbs in a baking dish. Spread the sliced apples on top of the crumbs. Add the remaining crumbs on top. Drizzle evenly with the maple syrup, followed by pouring the hot water and lemon juice over the top. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree for thirty minutes. Cover and bake another ten minutes.

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Remove from the oven and leave covered for another ten minutes (it will continue to steam the apples) before serving warm with cold whipped cream. For a more crunchy crumb you can bake it covered only for the first ten minutes as directed in the 1936 recipe. You can tweak this to suit your taste! Makes four servings.

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To make whipped cream by hand I used pasteurized non-homogenized local heavy cream that has no added gums whatsoever. Just pure heavy cream.

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With my new handheld beater I was able to beat one cup of heavy cream into whipped cream in under eight minutes with mini breaks throughout.

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The sweet, spicy warmth of the maple baked apples with fresh cold cream is very satisfying. I think using a dense, whole grain bread also added a delicious dimension!

5 thoughts on “Vintage Recipe: 1930s New England Apple Brown Betty

    1. I’ve also found what gives the best results is the absence of added gums. Almost all of the supermarket/organic mainstream brands have them. A few years ago I did a side by side comparison of the local cream I’ve been using for years and one with gums. The latter did not whip as well and did not hold its shape! And yes, it was also ultra-pasterizued, too!

      Liked by 1 person

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