The list of ingredients looks long, I know, but they are mainly aromatics thrown in to do all the work of infusing flavour into the apple filling. Nevertheless, to compensate, the base and topping are made from the same pastry: one half is pressed and patted onto the bottom of the tin, forming a biscuity base, while the other half is crumbled and scattered over the cooked apples for an irresistibly crisp top.
For the apple filling
3 granny smith apples, peeled and cored
3 pink lady apples, peeled and cored
zest of 1 large lemon
juice of 1 large lemon
½ vanilla pod, split in half lengthwise
2 cinnamon quills
3 tbsp castor sugar
pinch of salt
1 tbsp cornflour
30g unsalted butter
50ml brandy or apple juice
For the crumble base and top
150g plain flour
75g brown sugar
50g castor sugar
80g quick-cooking oats
1 tsp cinnamon powder
¼ tsp salt
130g unsalted butter, cold, cut into 2cm cubes
1. For the filling, slice apples thinly (about 2mm) and place in a large bowl. Add all the remaining filling ingredients except the cornflour, butter and brandy (or apple juice). Stir gently to combine, then cover and set aside for at least one hour (or overnight in the fridge) for the apples to soften and release their juices.
2. Strain the liquid from the apple slices into a large frying pan, then return the apples to the bowl, toss the cornflour through and set aside. Remove the vanilla, lemon zest, cinnamon quills and cloves from the apple mixture and add them to the juices in the frying pan. Place the pan over high heat and when it begins to boil, add the apples and butter. Reduce the heat to medium-low and toss the apples through until completely coated in the syrupy juices. Add the brandy (or apple juice) and cook until there is almost no liquid left. Set the pan aside to cool completely.
3. For the crumble base and top, preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan-forced) and line a square pan measuring 20cm x 20cm (I like to use one with a removable base) with baking paper. Place the flour, sugars, oats, cinnamon and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Divide the mixture in half. Scatter one half evenly over the bottom of the lined tin and pat the crumbs down firmly with your fingers. Use the back of a spoon to even the layer and compress the mix further, then place into the oven for 20-25 minutes until light golden brown. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
4. Increase oven temperature to 210C (190C fan-forced). Spread the apple mixture (now at room temperature) evenly over the pastry base, and sprinkle the remaining crumbs over the top.
5. Cook for about 30 minutes or until the crumble is golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool completely before cutting. A short stint in the fridge will make it easier to slice if you are feeling impatient!
If you like this recipe, try Helen's rhubarb and custard slice.
Find more of Helen Goh's recipes in the Good Food Favourite Recipes cookbook.