4 large granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
4 large pink lady apples, peeled, cored and sliced
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
⅔ cup sliced almonds
½ cup fine brown rice flour
½ cup ground almonds
70 grams cold butter, chopped into small pieces
¼ cup muscovado or unrefined raw sugar
3 teaspoons finely chopped thyme
I feel that all too often we think of apples merely as the base of a dessert, to which we add berries or other more vibrant fruits. Here I wanted to celebrate the humble apple in all its glory, adding only a little lemon and thyme to accentuate, not cover up, the beautiful natural sweet and sour flavour of in-season apples. For a dairy-free or vegan version, use 60ml (¼ cup) solid virgin coconut oil, plus a pinch of fine sea salt in place of the butter. The results are not quite the same, but still yum.
Preheat oven to 180°C. Place sliced apples and lemon zest in a saucepan, add a little splash of water, cover with a lid and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 8–10 minutes, stirring occasionally until apple is tender. Transfer to a 2 litre ovenproof dish (or 4–6 smaller ones if you’d like to make individual crumbles).
Place sliced almonds in a dry frying pan over medium-high heat and cook for 3–4 minutes, stirring often until lightly toasted. Remove from heat and set aside. Put rice flour, ground almonds and butter in a bowl. Use your hands to rub in butter until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs (it will feel a little more moist than regular crumble at this stage). Stir in sugar, toasted almonds and thyme. Scatter some crumble mixture over apples, then squeeze the rest of the crumble together with your hands to form large clumps before gently scattering on top.
Bake for 40–45 minutes for one large dish, or 30–35 minutes for smaller ones, until the top is golden brown and the filling bubbling up and over the crumble in places. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, vanilla custard or natural plain yoghurt.
Any leftovers are lovely eaten cold with yoghurt for breakfast, or warmed through if you have the time and/or can be bothered! If, like me, you like to plan ahead to make life easier, double up the crumble recipe and freeze half in a zip-lock bag for later use.