Monday, September 27, 2010

Baseball and Apple Betty Squares

Fall is officially upon us and certainly our weather is reflective of the season with rain over the weekend.  However, that doesn't stop the last week of the baseball season, or the playoffs to come and for sure, not my husband from anxiously maneuvering his teams in his final week of Fantasy Baseball.

My memories of this sport come from my Grandpa Frank who loved the St. Louis Cardinals (his hometown) and my sister, Barbara who was right there in his living room watching the games.  Admittedly, I'm not a die-hard fan, but I loved to have him explain plays to me and see his face when his team played well.  Now, I love watching our grandson, Ari, embrace the sport to the point he asked a waitress to turn the channel so he could watch a game...he's only two:)  Tonight, his daddy posted on Facebook a video of Ari hitting the ball and running the bases and I can't wait to play this American "pastime" with him in the backyard when I fly there this week.

Along with baseball, apple pie is just as American, so today I baked a version that is called Apple Betty Squares.  Apple Brown Betty is a dessert that is thought to date back to colonial times and is similar to a cobbler or bread pudding.  It's a simple dessert, made with fruit (usually apple) with sweetened bread crumbs on top.  Even J.D. Salinger mentioned Brown Betty dessert in his novel, Catcher in the Rye, stating "it's a typical unpleasant boarding school fare."  That's far from being true, and for me, this version made into a bar cookie would even change his mind!

Apple Betty Squares
(This recipe is from Gourmet magazine/September 2000)

3 slices of firm white sandwich bread, torn into quarters
For shorbread base
3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
For apple filling
1/2 c + 2T (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 lb tart apples (I used 4 Granny Smith apples)
2/3 c granulated sugar
2 T all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cardamon

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees
In a food processor, pulse the bread to fine crumbs.  Spread in a shallow baking pan and toast in the middle of the oven, stirring once, until golden, about 5 minutes.

Make the shortbread layer:--Place the flour, brown sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse to mix.  Add the cubed cold butter and process until it begins to form small lumps.  Sprinkle base into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan and press evenly onto bottom.  Bake in middle of oven until golden, about 20 minutes.
Prepare the apple filling while the shortbread is baking:
Peel, quarter and core apples, then, slice quarters crosswise.  In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, flour and spices and set aside.
Assemble the squares:
Sprinkle half of the sugar mixture over the hot shortbread.  Place the apples on top and then sprinkle the remaining sugar over them. 

Top with the toasted bread crumbs, then pour the melted butter over top.

Bake in the oven for 50-55 minutes until golden brown.  (Hint: to keep the bottom of the shortbread from browning too much, place the 9 x 13-inch pan on a sheet pan.)  Cool 20 minutes in the pan on a rack before cutting into squares.

These squares are great on their own, but with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream; well, Yum. Enjoy!


  1. We have enjoyed making apple pies recently after dinner and this looks amazing! Shortbread is a favorite of mine, what a nice combination! Your just making me hungry now! : ) How could I forget to tell you!? We LOVED the Eggplant balls! They were a huge hit all around and we had fun around the table saying could you please pass the meatless meatballs! We are dreaming of them in subs, and soups next! Love you xoxo

  2. This looks great! I just brought home some apples from my Mom's tree. Made an apple crisp and it was very good! I'd love to try this recipe next!

  3. Ari's going to have a blast cooking with Grammy!
    I like how you weave in personal stories about our family and interesting trivia into your recipes! Now I need to put Maddie's little chef hat and apron on and skype with you and Ari. Maddie pointed to my bread board the other day insisting we make pie dough that she likes to roll.

  4. Wishing you a wonderful time with your precious little one Susan. I bet that home is going to smell of baking from the moment you get there. What a lovely memory for him. Still kniting away. Mrs Tiggy winkle is almost finished~

    Enjoy your visit and I look forward to your news.
    Love you

  5. I'm going to have Ari "rolling" and making apple pie for his mama's birthday on Friday. He loves to help in the kitchen, just like Maddie does :D

  6. so adorable, and look so much fun baking with a young boy :-)
    your recipe is great and I love your blog. Hope to update mine as well whenever I can. and really, thanks for visiting my site, that's really encouraging