For the ‘independent’ crumble:
50g butter, diced (or use 50ml vegetable oil, for a vegan crumble)
75g light wholemeal cake flour or wholegrain spelt flour
50g porridge oats or fine oatmeal 50g ground almonds or hazelnuts 100g almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts, roughly bashed or chopped, or 100g cooked chestnuts, crumbled
30g sugar (soft brown, golden granulated or demerara)
A pinch of salt
For the Bramley and verbena compote:
Juice of 1 lemon
1kg Bramley or other cooking apples
12 dried lemon verbena leaves (see book)
50–100g caster sugar
Plain yoghurt, lightly whipped cream (or a mixture of both)
For the crumble, preheat the oven to 190°C/Fan 170°C/Gas 5 and have ready a large baking tray. Either rub the butter into the flour in a large bowl to get a coarse breadcrumb texture then stir in the other ingredients, or soften the butter first and mix everything together in one go with your hands (which is the best approach if you’ve used oil).
Either way, break the mix into chunky clumps and spread out in the baking tray. Bake for 15–20 minutes, stirring the mix at least once, until golden brown. Leave to cool completely. If you are not using it straight away, store the crumble in a jar, or sealed tin or plastic container for up to a week.
To make the compote, put the lemon juice into a large pan. Peel, core and slice the apples into the pan, tossing them with the juice as you go so they don’t brown. Add the dried lemon verbena leaves, sugar and 2 tbsp water.
Bring to a simmer, stirring often, and cook gently, stirring occasionally to help the apples break down, for about 20 minutes until you have a slightly chunky purée. Taste and add more sugar if you like – but keep the compote nicely tart because it will be paired with the sweet crumble. You can either serve your compote straight away or let it cool then chill it.
To assemble your festive fumble, divide the apple compote between serving glasses or bowls. Add a generous dollop of yoghurt, whipped cream or a combination of the two. Top with a layer of crumble mix, and tuck in – swirling your fumble as you eat.
Citrusy Bramley compote
Instead of lemon verbena, use the finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange; also include the grated zest of the lemon used in the recipe. Add to the lemon juice in the pan as you start the apple compote and proceed as above, but don’t add the 2 tbsp water.
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Christmas at River Cottage
£22, Bloomsbury Publishing
Extract taken from Christmas at River Cottage by Lucy Brazier, with seasonal notes and recipes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury, £22)
Photography © Charlotte Bland