Let’s get this straight. A “crisp” is a layer of sweetened and spiced fruit baked under a crispy crumb topping; a “pandowdy” is a one-crust, deep-dish fruit pie with a biscuit topping; and a “betty” (or “Brown Betty”) is a pudding made with fruit, layered and topped with buttered breadcrumbs. Although they are all good, Betty is my queen. I’ve messed with the original a little by using bread cubes instead of crumbs, which gives the finished pudding a bit more texture.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 3 tablespoons, melted
- 6 firm Bosc pears or Granny Smith apples or large ripe peaches, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch dice
- 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups cubed fresh or day-old bread (¼-inch cubes)
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Melt the 3 tablespoons of solid butter in a large skillet over high heat until foamy. Add the fruit and sauté until the pieces just begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and mix in the brown sugar and vanilla.
Mix the 3 tablespoons of melted butter and the bread cubes in a medium bowl until the butter coats the bread evenly. Scatter a third of the bread over the bottom of a 3- to 4-quart slow cooker. Top with half the fruit mixture, another third of the bread, the remaining fruit, and the remaining bread. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the top. Drape a folded kitchen towel over the top and cover with the lid. Cook for 3 hours on high, or until the fruit is bubbling and brown around the edges.
Keep warm for up to 2 hours and serve warm with ice cream, if desired.