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Cooking the Book: Peach Brown Betty

2012 September 12
by Gayle

Unlike the last one, this attempt at making dessert was an abject FAIL. Such a major failure that, like another serious FAIL, I am not even going to bother going through the process of offering up the recipe. I don’t think it was because of anything I did (or didn’t do) or the ingredients or anything else. I really think it’s just not a very good recipe. Or even idea.

I was dubious but hopeful about this one, but the truth is that Apple Brown Betty is Apple Brown Betty for a reason. It simply does not work with peaches. Even if you really, really want it to.

For the uninitiated, a Brown Betty is a colonial-era dessert that consists of layers of fruit and sweet, buttery breadcrumbs. It’s kind of a crisp for folks who don’t like the oaty topping that usually comes on a crisp. Apple is the most traditional kind you’ll see, followed closely by pear (which makes sense, given their similarities with apples) and then, occasionally berries. Never stone fruits like peaches or nectarines, and now I know why.

While peaches baked with crumbly sweet topping sounds good in theory, really good, in-season, farmer’s market peaches are way too juicy to make a decent Brown Betty. They pretty much just create a tasty but messy skillet of peach slop. Sorry, editors at America’s Test Kitchen, your whole precooking them in the skillet thing didn’t work. All three times I tried to make this. Including the times I spent nearly three times as long as the recipe suggests trying to get those babies to caramelize.

Sorrry, ya’ll. Stick with apples and pears in your Brown Betties.

 

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