Vegetarian food blog featuring delicious and nutritious whole food recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

Apple Brown Betty with Optional Chocolate

Autumn, Leftovers, Pudding | 23rd September 2011 | By

A layer of sweet apples, optional pieces of chocolate topped off by a layer of crisp spicy sugary breadcrumbs. This apple brown betty is home cooked comfort food at its best. It makes for an easy and delicious autumnal pudding.

With a friend due for supper last week, loads of spare apples and some bread in need of using up, I knew immediately what I wanted to make for pudding. I grew up calling a stewed apple base with a breadcrumb top Apple Charlotte, but apparently that’s not correct. Apple Charlotte seems to be more like a summer pudding but using apples rather than summer berries. According to the great god Google, a Brown Betty is what I’ve been referring to all these years.

What is Brown Betty?

As mentioned above, brown betty is a rustic dish of stewed fruit with a crisp sugary breadcrumb topping. It’s a traditional American dessert and is similar to a crumble or crisp.

The name is lost in the mists of time, but it’s possible that the “brown” refers to a woman of mixed race. Not so sweet after all. I prefer to think of it as a recipe that comes from a loved family friend named Betty – whatever her colour.

Apple Brown Betty

I made my apple brown betty recipe up as I went along. But the beauty of these old fashioned homely recipes, is that they’re really easy to make and exact ingredients and quantities don’t matter too much. I’m pretty sure my mother, the Pudding Queen, never used a recipe for this particular dessert.

Apple brown betty is a great pudding for autumn. Not only is it comforting, cheap and delicious, but it makes excellent use of those apples that abound at this time of year. It’s also good for using up leftover bread.

Apple Brown Betty with a vase of flowers.

I do love the abundance of apples at this time of year. This apple brown betty is a great way to use them up. I used of 2 large Cornish cooking apples from my mother’s garden and 4 small red fleshed ones we found on a wayside tree. You can use whatever breadcrumbs you like, but wholemeal is obviously better. I used some of my rye sourdough to make the breadcrumbs for this particular dish.

Chocolate is entirely optional, but it’s definitely worth trying. I had some orange flavoured dark chocolate that I thought would work particularly well with the apples, so that’s what went into my apple brown betty.

The picture above may be rubbish. It was dark after all, but this pudding is so good. Why, I wondered, did it take me so long to make it?. The breadcrumb top was deliciously spicy and nicely crunchy. The chocolate had melted comfortingly into the apples which were soft and juicy. And a dollop of crème fraîche over the top was the perfect finishing touch. The three of us polished it off happily as the conversation drifted from marine biology to tango dancing via druidic studies.

Other Apple Desserts You Might Like

If you’re after more hot pudding inspiration, why not take a look at these recipes in my Pudding category? And for more apple ideas, hop over to this 80 seasonal and delicious apple recipes to make this autumn.

Keep in Touch

Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make this apple brown betty, with or without the chocolate, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.

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Apple Brown Betty – The Recipe

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5 from 1 vote

Apple Brown Betty

A layer of sweet apples, optional pieces of chocolate topped off by a layer of crisp spicy sugary breadcrumbs. Home cooked comfort food at its best. Makes for an easy and delicious autumnal pudding.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apples, breadcrumbs, cinnamon
Servings: 3 people
Calories: 356kcal


  • 80 g (3oz) wholemeal breadcrumbs (I used my rye sourdough)
  • 30 g (1 oz) butter
  • 1 heaped tbsp golden syrup
  • 3 tbsp demerara sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • grating of nutmeg
  • 3 large cooking apples
  • 50 g (2oz) dark chocolate - chopped (I used orange flavoured)


  • Melt the butter with and golden syrup in a large pan over a gently heat. Take off the heat.
  • Mix in 1 tbsp of the sugar, the cinnamon and nutmeg along with the breadcrumbs. Put aside.
  • Peel, core and slice the apples.
  • Butter a small pie dish and pile in the apple slices.
  • Sprinkle the remaining 2 tbsp demerara sugar over the apples.
  • Scatter the chocolate over this.
  • Spoon the bread crumb mixture over the top of the chocolate.
  • Bake for 25 minutes at 180℃ (350℉, Gas 4) when the fruit should be cooked and the top nice and crisp.


Please note: calories and other nutritional information are per serving. They're approximate and will depend on serving size and exact ingredients used.


Calories: 356kcal | Carbohydrates: 71.3g | Protein: 3.8g | Fat: 8.1g | Saturated Fat: 4.9g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 59mg | Potassium: 256mg | Fiber: 5.8g | Sugar: 48g | Iron: 1mg


To celebrate her new blog home, Kate of What Kate Baked (formerly Kates Cakes & Bakes) has issued an Autumnal Challenge to bake something homely, comforting, warming and autumnal. She even has a prize up for grabs. This pud fits the bill nicely – in my humble opinion!

This is a tad cheeky, but I’m fast running out of time and have a long queue of posts waiting patiently to be published. So I’m also submitting this to Fabulicious Food’s Simple and in Season.


  1. Kate@whatkatebaked

    23rd September 2011 at 7:32 pm

    A brilliant Autumnal entry, thank you for entering Choclette! I haven’t had a Brown Betty for years…but this post has made me relive my childhood pudding memories of tucking straight into every single dessert, each one invariably drowned in lashings of custard!

  2. Gloria

    23rd September 2011 at 9:32 pm

    absolutely delicious!! gloria

  3. Phil in the Kitchen

    23rd September 2011 at 10:25 pm

    I’ve often been confused by just what an Apple Charlotte should be – I’ve seen the name given to all sorts of odd combinations. But I’m sure you’re right that it’s closer to a summer pudding – that’s what Eliza Acton says and that’s good enough for me. Whatever it’s called, though, your pud sounds lovely. I especially like the idea of using orange chocolate.

  4. Choclette

    24th September 2011 at 6:37 am

    Kate – thank you for hosting. You tucking into dessert made me laugh – it was always the highlight of any meal for me too (when we had it).

    Gloria – thank you.

    Phil – Thanks for confirming the apple charlotte conundrum. The orange chocolate is something I shall have to remember to use again in an apple pudding – it did work well.

  5. Kath

    24th September 2011 at 6:56 am

    Red fleshed apples! I have never before seen such a thing. What do they taste like? I have never had an apple betty but always thought they looked good. Yours has tempted me to try one.

  6. Shu Han

    24th September 2011 at 7:24 am

    I think for a charlotte you don’t have to blitz the bread into crumbs, but you do need to soak the bread in LOTS of butter. I think. I’m not English so I may be speaking out of line here. But to be honest I don’t really care as long as it tastes good, and your brown betty (i love how it sounds) looks simply fab!

  7. Chele

    24th September 2011 at 10:02 am

    Chocolate Brown Betty! Why have I never thought of that!!! Yum ;0)
    PS – love the flowers too, so pretty!

  8. oxslip

    24th September 2011 at 9:23 am

    Those red apples are amazing aren’t they? I think in Cornwall it’s called Sops in Wine (according to my Ma). Either way, a great pud especially as these evenings get more nippy

  9. Karen S Booth

    24th September 2011 at 12:00 pm

    A GREAT idea and perfect entries for both seasonal events too! Your flowers are gorgeous on the table.

  10. Johanna GGG

    24th September 2011 at 12:17 pm

    gorgeous autumnal pic – and lovely idea – have never had brown betty but if I do I would like some chocolate in mine

  11. C

    24th September 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Looks fab – and sounds like a great combo of autumnal flavours.

    I love your flowers, they’re really pretty.

  12. VegBoxBoy

    24th September 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Never heard of a Brown Betty before – sounds nice. Shame I’ve already stewed my apples.

  13. Foodycat

    24th September 2011 at 5:46 pm

    I thought it was a bowl of rose petals! The apples on our tree have a hint of pink in the flesh, but nothing like that. Beautiful!

  14. Janice

    24th September 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Ha! I’ve just made a Brown Betty tonight, definitely the time of year to bring on the baked puds and yours looks delicious.

  15. Choclette

    24th September 2011 at 7:23 pm

    Kath – the red apples were OK, but not the most delicious raw – not that sweet, but not that sour. CT recently bought one for a friend in Wales – Pendragon (although there are various ones available).

    Shu Han – thank you. Am liking the sound of bread soaked in lots of butter 😉

    Oxslip – CT informs me Sops in Wine is a specific variety of red fleshed apple – great name. And yes, with my garish taste, I love the colour.

    Chele – thank you, one more pud to add to your list (s).

    Karen – thank you. The flowers are not home grown, but they are local.

    Johanna – chocolate is great for that added feel good factor 😉

    C – thank you. Sometimes throwing things together works really well – sometimes not 😉

    VBB – there’s always next year!

    Foodycat – would love to have a big bowl of rose petals – how luxurious! Thanks for following, you’ve made a nice even number of 250 which pleases me, but after all this time …..?

    Janice – now that is a co-incidence. Did you follow a real recipe? Will be over to your blog to find out.

  16. celia

    24th September 2011 at 8:50 pm

    Choc, I’ve never seen red-fleshed apples before! They look amazing! Love the name too – a Brown Betty sounds like comfort food.. 🙂

  17. Baking Addict

    24th September 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Definitely very autumnal. I’m glad you’ve cleared up my confusion about apple charlotte and brown betty. I can see why it got polished so quickly.

  18. cityhippyfarmgirl

    25th September 2011 at 3:40 am

    Red on the inside apple- now that is very cool.
    I’ve never tried Brown Betty before. Looks perfect for a little autumn cooking Choc.

  19. Choclette

    25th September 2011 at 9:18 am

    Celia – this was the first time I’d seen red-fleshed apples they are beautiful. Just as you are quickening into spring, we are slowing right down into autumn, so comfort food is very much the order of the day.

    Baking Addict – glad it wasn’t just me then!!!!

    CityHippy – lovely looking apples, just a shame they aren’t quite as delicious as they look. Worked well as a pudding though.

  20. Hazel

    28th September 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I can honestly say I have never heard of a Chocolate Brown Betty before! Sounds like a very interesting dessert, especially with the addition of rye breadcrumbs.

  21. Choclette

    1st October 2011 at 8:06 am

    Hazel – I keep hearing about rye in cakes, but this is the first time I’ve used it in a sweet dish and I was very pleased with the result.

  22. Judith Luscombe

    3rd August 2013 at 9:43 am

    Think this is a variation of a recipe we used to make at school, Brown Betty Apple Sweet, sounds delicious

    • Camilla Hawkins

      23rd October 2019 at 11:31 am

      I don’t think I’ve ever had a Brown Betty before but really want to try this now, sounds delicious. Also a really good way to use up stale bread!

      • Choclette

        23rd October 2019 at 11:34 am

        I’m a big fan of any recipes that use up leftovers. This is particularly good for getting rid of some of those containers of breadcrumbs I have in the freezer.

  23. Amy Treasure

    23rd October 2019 at 9:00 pm

    I’ve heard of Brown Betty but wasn’t sure what it was until now. It looks lovely, I’ll have to try it!

    • Choclette

      24th October 2019 at 7:50 am

      Now is the perfect time for apple puddings. I need to make it soon so I can update those ancient photos.

  24. Jill @MadAboutMacarons

    24th October 2019 at 7:33 pm

    Jings! I’ve never even heard of a Brown Betty. This does look and sound good, Choclette. I’m all into finding good apple recipes just now and the addition of chocolate just takes it into Autumnal bliss!

    • Choclette

      24th October 2019 at 7:58 pm

      As you know I’ve done a lot of chocolate experimentation over the years. Apples aren’t the most obvious pairing for chocolate, but it really does work.


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