Cooking with My Grandma: Apple Brown Betty

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Since I’m new to this whole “hobby” thing, I think that my posting on the site in the area of “Cooking with My Grandma” will probably only be once a week.  With life being so fast paced, travel for Artios, and two grandbabies coming, I think once a week is something I can be consistent in.

SO today, I’m baking Apple Brown Betty.  It looked easy, quick and had ingredients that almost everyone has on time all the time.  I hadn’t really heard of this dessert before seeing it in my great-grandmother’s handwriting on a piece of paper.  So, I looked up a bit of history of the dish  on delish.com. Although the history was still a big vague, the recipe appears to have been around for quite some time.

All I needed for ingredients were:

APPLE BROWN BETTY

5 Granny Smith or Gala Apples

4 cups of dried bread crumbs/cubes (I chopped up white sandwich bread into small cubes)

1 cup of brown sugar

1/2 cup butter – melted

1/2 cup lukewarm water

1 tsp. cinnamon (I always add more than listed)

1/2 tsp. salt

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First thing I did was chop up the bread so that it could dry out some while I was doing the rest of the dish. Here in Colorado, things dry out quickly so I didn’t have to wait long.

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I then used my apple corer to core and slice the apples and then chopped and diced them up with the peel on. This recipe said to leave the peels on, so I did!

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I melted a stick of butter in the microwave for about 40 seconds and then poured it over the bread crumbs that I had drying in a bowl.

I also added the brown sugar, salt and cinnamon to the apples that I had sitting in a separate bowl and mixed all of them together.

In a 2 quart baking dish, I put a layer of apple mixture, followed by a layer of bread crumbs and repeated this until the dish was full.  Then, I poured the 1/2 cup of lukewarm water over the entire dish.

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Then I slid it into a 350 degree preheated oven and set the timer for 40 minutes.

It was easy, inexpensive.  I have a feeling my great-grandmother probably did made this recipe quite often given how frugal it is.

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Cooking with My Grandma: Parker House Rolls

IMG_0446So, today is the day I’m starting my “new” hobby.  I’m going to cook through what I’m going to call “heritage recipes”…recipes that I have from great grandmother, grandmother and great aunt that our family still has access to via handwritten slips of paper, recipe cards and well-worn recipe books.  I will probably do this on Monday mornings or Wednesday afternoons as those are blocks of time for me to do things at home.  (Yep, I do my schedule in project blocks of … but that’s a whole different post.)

Strictly based on what I had available at the house and the fact that I had this recipe in a handwritten format (see below), I chose to do my grandmother’s Parker House Rolls first. Plus, I’m usually pretty good at bread baking so I thought I would start on something that I had a good chance of success with.

I started by pulling all the ingredients out onto the kitchen island along with my grandmother’s bread bowl (picture #1) and my measuring cups and spoons.

I tried to keep track of what I was doing and the results by taking pictures of the process.  Now, I know there are expert bloggers out there who take amazing pictures with their phones and cameras and know just what to do to make everything look perfect.  However, I have to be real with you.  I have NO IDEA how to do that sort of thing, nor do I think I want to invest the time in that at this point…so, I’m going to just be “real” with you.  Hopefully, you can handle that! : )

After all my ingredients and materials were assembled, I read through my grandmother’s recipe once again and just started from the top by combining luke warm water, yeast and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a large glass measuring cup.  Now, here was my first hiccup.  She said 2 1/2 packages of yeast.  I buy my yeast in a big jar but have learned over the years that a package of yeast (at least the ones these days) have about 2 1/2 tsp of yeast in them…so that’s what I used as a guide.  After combining those ingredients, I set them aside until they were bubbly…about 10 minutes.  (picture #2)

Then, I combined the remaining dry ingredients (except flour) in my grandmother’s bread bowl (picture #3) and measured out 8 tbls. of shortening in a bowl and put it in the microwave for 1 minute to melt.  (picture #4)  If you notice on her recipe, she said that she used “fryings” instead of shortening.  I wonder if this was like bacon grease or something?

I then poured the milk and put it in the microwave for a minute to make it “lukewarm” ….(what is lukewarm anyway?)

Once the yeast mixture was bubbly, I poured it along with the milk and melted shortening into the bowl and stirred to combine. (picture #5)

Then, I was back to reading her recipe.  It said add flour until the dough was easy to handle.  Fortunately, since I’ve baked bread before, I understood what that meant.   I started with adding two cups (picture #6), then four cups (picture #7) and then six cups (picture #8).  The consistency still wasn’t right and it wasn’t until I had pretty much emptied my flour container and added a total of 9 cups of flour, that the consistency was ready for me to mix with my hands.

Notice the recipe doesn’t say to knead….hmmmm!

So, I needed just until it was easy to handle and to form into a ball (picture #9) so that it could rise beneath a towel in the breadbowl for 35 minutes.

After 35 minutes, punch it down and let it rise again for 35 minutes.

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After that, the recipe stops.  Doesn’t say the temp to cook the rolls at, the size of the rolls, whether I should roll them out, roll them up or what.  I bet everyone around my grandmother would have automatically known what to do.  So, I did what I thought was right…and grabbed a fistful of dough, flattened it between my hands into a rectangle and then folded it in half and put it on a pizza stone that I sometimes use for baking bread.  I’m sure you could use a regular baking sheet, but I like to use a stone for bread because of the texture it seems to produce.

I filled up two pizza stones with the rolls,

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covered them with a towel and let them rise again until about double.

Once they were double in size, I brushed them with a little butter, and put them in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.  THe recipe made 3 1/2 dozen good sized rolls.

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So…I did it!

I spent about two hours on a hobby!…and one that feels like a project with meaning.

I’m going to try something new on Wednesday I think…but first, a trip to the grocery store is going to be necessary.

Faith and Courage,

Lori