Vegan Strawberry Brown Betty

Fran Costigan's Vegan Strawberry Brown Betty

Fran Costigan's Vegan Strawberry Brown BettyA variation of Strawberry Brown Betty is what is on my mind and on a plate today. This year, for the 3rd time in a row, strawberries topped the list of the 12 “dirtiest” fruits and vegetables, according to the Environmental Working Group. I adore fresh strawberries and have struggled over the choice between local, seasonal vs. organic, but with the EWG information, it will continue to be organic fresh strawberries for me. Yesterday at my local Mom’s Organic Market, Center City, Philly, I was delighted to see boxes of organic strawberries on sale. I looked at the boxes carefully, turning them over to check for signs of mold. I made my selection, and as soon as I got home, opened the box and checked the berries for any bruised or moldy ones. Truth: one spoiled berry will spoil the bunch. What I do when using fresh organic strawberries is not feasible, is use frozen ones in desserts.

Fran Costigan's Vegan Strawberry Brown BettyNow, in the spirit of spring-cleaning, I am continuing to use what I have in the freezer. I found a few pieces of the orange bundt cake from More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts Naturally, and loved the idea of pairing this cake with the beautiful organic strawberries I bought. I defrosted a few pieces of the cakes and crumbled them, and then toasted the crumb in my oven. The cake became my bread cubes and crumbs for the Betty. Why the blueberry Betty in progress? Well, frozen berries are standing in here for fresh. Naturally, you can make a Betty more traditionally using bread crumbs and cubes too. Vary away.

Fran Costigan's Vegan Strawberry Brown Betty

What is Brown Betty?

A Brown Betty is an old-fashioned baked fruit dessert, made with coarse toasted and buttered bread crumbs or cubes, that alternate with layers of fruit. They do not have milk and eggs in them, unlike conventional bread puddings, and I figured there is no need to use bread. In fact, I decided to make a make Strawberry Brown Betty, with the above-mentioned leftover orange cake and the sliced fresh strawberries macerated in just a little pure maple syrup. If I’d had frozen strawberries, I would have defrosted them and lightly sweetened the resulting liquid. Original Bettys were totally simple, using bread, butter, and fruit. Newer recipes reflect modern tastes and spices and spirits are often added. I choose to make my Betty without adding flavorings to allowing the fruit to shine. The toasted cake still tasted of citrus.

Fran Costigan's Vegan Strawberry Brown BettyEating fruits and vegetables is crucial for good health, so what do we do when organic is not an option? And, what about local produce vs. shipped. Definitely food for though. Wouldn’t it be something if we were asked to pay more for chemical-laden produce. I’m very interested in your opinions and would be so appreciative of comments here on this blog post.

Fran Costigan's Vegan Strawberry Brown Betty

Fran Costigan's Vegan Strawberry Brown Betty

Strawberry Brown Betty

Fran Costigan
All measurements are approximate, based on your baking dish. Mine was 6 inches across and 3 inches high, about 4 cups. I figure that is 4 servings. Strawberry Brown Betty is great on its own, but it also pairs perfectly with Vanilla Custard Cream or non-dairy ice cream. Strawberries, raspberries bake fast. You don't want mush. Other fruit Bettys are best baked longer. Just keep an eye on the time.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings


  • Cake or bread crumbs to equal 3 cups
  • Strawberries, sliced to equal 3-4 cups, sliced to equal 3-4 cups
  • 1-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, more to taste


  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Crumble the cake, defrosted if needed, onto a parchment lined sheet pan.
  • Toss the sliced berries with the maple syrup and allow to macerate about 20 minutes. The maple syrup here sweetens and stands in for the butter.
  • Cover the bottom of the baking dish with about an inch of crumbs, more or less. 
  • Add a layer of berries and some of the accumulated liquid.
  • Repeat 2-3 times.
  • Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the berries are warmed through, but not mushy.
  • Cool a few minutes and spoon into serving dishes. The Betty is good at room temperature too.
  • Serve as is, or add some Vanilla Custard Cream, or a scoop of a vegan ice cream, especially good with a warm from the oven Betty.  Enjoy!
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
    • I put the berries into a bowl and let them defrost. I guess the taste depends on the brand. I buy organic flash frozen berries and have no problem with the taste. I mean they are not fresh berries, that’s for sure but fine for recipes like this and smoothies- in that case I do not defrost them.

      • Hm…I understand. Now that I read the words “flash frozen” in your comment, I think I know where’s the problem.

        I buy them frozen from a lady who grows her own. She probably freezes them in a regular freezer and they lose their texture or something…

        Thank you, anyway 🙂

        • Kate, It is possible that the berries you are using are not good tasting, or have been frozen and defrosted prior to your using them, but they should cook down to a sweetened pureed in this recipe as they mingle with the rhubarb. Of course, ingredients that don’t taste good to start, won’t taste good in the end.

          • I hope you will try again with better berries. Always a good idea to taste the fruit before you start!

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