Autumn Brown Betty
1 cup pecans
½ pound loaf of day old brioche or other rich egg bread
1 ½ pounds apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 baskets blackberries or 1, 12 ounce bag frozen blackberries
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350. Spread pecans on a baking sheet or in a shallow pan. Bake, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned and fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool. Chop very coarsely.
Butter 8, 12-ounce ovenproof ramekins; set aside. (Alternatively, you can use a 9x13 inch pan.)
Remove the crust from the brioche, then slice and cut into ¾-inch cubes. Arrange on a baking sheet and lightly toast, 8 to 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine pecans, brioche, apples, blackberries, brown sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, cinnamon and lemon zest; toss well.
Spoon mixture into prepared ramekins, pressing down as needed to fit. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the tops are golden and crispy and the apples are tender and juicy.
Serve hot, warm or at room temperature with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, lightly whipped cream or cream Anglaise poured over the top.
Leftover brioche or other rich egg bread makes the best dish; however, a good country loaf works fine as do peaches, nectarines, pears or any berry. It's the ripe, juicy fruit that oozes into the bread that makes this such a comforting dish.