Apple, pear, and dried sweet cherry brown Betty

Contributed by Preston Maring, MD

Apple, pear, and dried sweet cherry brown Betty

It's possible to eat dessert and still Thrive. You just don't eat a lot of dessert every day. Dessert recipes are shared only occasionally in my weekly e-mails, however I just received a wonderful cookbook for a gift.

While grazing through the book, I learned for the first time that a "Betty" is similar to a "crisp" which is not to be confused with a "grunt" or a "slump".

As I had a fresh loaf of 3-Grain Bread from Vital Vittles of Berkeley, I decided to make up my own version of a "betty" which uses bread crumbs instead of flour and oats. Fresh from my local farmers' market were Pippin apples and Warren pears. I also had some dried sweet cherries from Lone Oak Ranch.

While it's probably not a first, there may have only been a few "Betties" made with organic whole grain bread. When reading the ingredients of any recipe not accompanied by a nutritional analysis, it's important to have some idea how many servings will emanate from the finished product.

In this case, there are 12 generous servings which results in total fat per serving of 6 gms (9 grams per tbsp of Smart Balance x 8 tablespoons per 12 servings) and about 1.7 grams saturated fat (2.5 grams per tablespoons x 8 tablespoons per 12 servings).

Many crisps have almonds or walnuts in the topping which can add flavor but also fat and even more calories. The version below is so good it doesn't need to be accompanied by ice cream or topped with whipped cream.

Servings: 12


  • The Bottom, Middle, and Topping
  • 6 slices multi-whole grain bread, dried a little and processed into crumbs, about 4 cups
  • 8 Tbsp Smart Balance butter substitute
  • 1/3 cup crystallized ginger, coarsely minced
  • The Filling
  • 2 1/2 pounds cooking apples and pears (ask the farmer), peeled, cored, and sliced about 1/4" thick.
  • 1 cup dried sweet cherries (optional)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the Smart Balance in a large skillet. Add the bread crumbs and stir until well mixed. Stir in the ginger. Mix all the filling ingredients in a bowl. Cover the bottom of a 13" by 9" baking dish with 1/3 of the bread crumbs. Add a layer of fruit using 1/2 the apple and pear mixture. Top with another 1/3 of the crumbs. Add another layer of fruit. Top with remaining crumbs. Pour 1 cup hot water over the crumbs. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for another 20 minutes or until browned and juicy. If you have the willpower to wait, let it cool a little before serving.

Nutrition Information (per serving)