It’s hard to believe we were apple picking three weeks ago. Even harder to believe that we still have apples. And not for lack of eating them. But that’s the thing with apple picking. You tend to come home with a few more than you might have intended. Luckily they keep well.
Usually, I bake with them soon after we return, but it has been a busy October. Finally, I’m getting to it. Apple Brown Betty—baked apples with a sweet, crunchy topping. Yum! But since tomorrow is Halloween and the kids will be distracted with their candy, I decided to make the topping, which I can use for individual portions when they get sick of candy (and for me anytime). I’ve never done this and modified one of my Mom’s delicious recipes. I even figured out the baking time.
Apple Brown Betty—One Apple at a Time
Grab a ramekin or small oven-safe bowl. Butter it. Then grab a good-sized apple, peel, and slice.
Arrange the apple slices in the ramekin. I don’t know if it needs to be this neat, but I try to keep the apples even. Once done, sprinkle a little orange juice over the apples.
Next, make the topping. I halved the usually recipe so double if you want to make a whole pie. In a plastic bag (or a bowl, though I find the bag easier for mixing, cleaning, and storing), combine:
¼ cup (half a stick) butter – slightly soften to more easily mix with the dry ingredients
½ cup sugar
3/8 cup (¼ cup + half of that since you probably don’t have an 1/8 cup) flour
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Close the bag and massage the butter and dry ingredient together to create a crumble. It is a perfect job for your kids. They can do it while you’re working on the apples.
Once the topping is well combined and looks crumbly, top the apples.
You’re ready to bake. With the oven set at 475 degrees, I slid in the ramekin(s) tented with foil for 15 minutes. This allows the apples to start to bake down. Then I removed the foil and baked for another 10-15 minutes. You know it is done when the top is golden brown. You can slide a knife in to make sure the apples are cooked.
Now the hard part…waiting till it cools. I burnt my tongue. If you like your pie a la monde, ice cream might help or at least sooth your tongue. Or you can distract yourself and kids with a book.
In the five years we’ve gone apple picking, I’m always left with the same question at bedtime: where are our apple books? For some reason, I don’t have a collection like I do for everything else. I felt better when I ask the librarian for recommendations and she agreed that there seemed to be a lack of good apples stories. But we found some!
In this story by Elisa Kleven, Lizzy is scared about starting school. She’d rather stay home in her apple tree. She takes a little of the tree with her, making an apple into a doll. At first, the other kids think it’s odd. But after her Mom helps her dry it, the doll takes on a whole new life. This is a story for apples like The Very Best Pumpkin is for pumpkins. And it gives you a wonderful apple activity to do with your kids.
The bunny family takes a trip to an orchard very similar to ours. There’s a tractor ride, apple picking…and dropping, and eating. Like in Seeds! Seeds! Seeds! (featured in our Our Garden… post), Nancy Elizabeth Wallace’s writing and cut-paper artwork does a wonderful job of explaining apples and how they grow. It also shares lots of fun things to do with apples—make applesauce, create apple stamps, recite apple sayings, and sing an apple song.
The classic apple story is the tale of Johnny Appleseed. While many exaggerated stories exist, they are based on American pioneer, John Chapman. Starting apple groves in large parts of Pennsylvania, Ontario, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and West Virginia, he became an American legend because of his kindness, generosity, and leadership in conservation. When I saw this version by Steven Kellogg on the library shelf, I had to get it. He is one of my favorite authors/illustrators. Like I did as a child, the boys loved the story and illustrations.
The end papers from this beautifully illustrated book are featured in our first picture here with the whole apple. The rest of the illustrations by Karla Gudeon bring Harriet Ziefert’s words to life in the rest of the book. Your kids will follow the life cycle of an apple from picking and eating one to letting the birds eat the core and the seeds settle into the ground to the growth of a tree that produces more apples.
We had to include a nonfiction book on the list. What better than one with stunning National Geographic photography. This book discusses many apple topics—from growing and picking to all the things you can make with them. Nothing says autumn like apples.
What apple books do you love? We need to grow our collection. And share what apple fun you’ve had this fall.