At heart this is just stewed apples and cream, but it shows how, if you want to, you can enhance every component of a dish to create something greater than the sum of its parts. I love the taste of caramelised apples in a tarte tatin, so why not recreate the same effect here, with some spices thrown in for good measure? And by adding beaten egg whites to the cream, you end up with a topping as light as snow.
Sprinkle 200g of the sugar into a hot heavy-based pan in an even layer. Heat without stirring until it becomes a golden caramel, swirling the pan now and again for an even colour.
Add the apples, ginger and cinnamon sticks and swirl so that everything is coated in the caramel. Cook over a low heat for 5 minutes, then add the butter. Cook for a further 5 minutes, or until the apples are soft and collapsing.
Pour the mixture into a sieve set over a bowl and allow to drain. Reserve the liquid.
Remove the ginger and cinnamon from the apple mixture, then spoon the fruit into 6 × 175ml serving glasses. Reserve any excess cooking juices. Chill for an hour or so.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Now whisk in the remaining sugar a little at a time, until the mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks.
In a separate bowl, whip the cream until thickened and just reaching soft peaks. Add three-quarters of the lemon zest and gently mix, then stir in the remaining apple liquid (you can reserve some to drizzle on top, if liked). Finally, fold the egg whites into the cream mixture until combined.
Spoon or pipe the cream mixture over each chilled dish of apple compote. Sprinkle over the remaining lemon zest and, if you like, drizzle over any reserved cooking juices. Chill for 30 minutes before serving.