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Leave slices of bread out to dry overnight, or toast them in the toaster if it is still soft. Whiz bread into small chunks in the food processor. Gradually add half of the butter and pulse until the butter is mixed and barely visible throughout.
Toast the breadcrumbs on medium-high in a large (ovenproof) dry skillet until golden brown but not burnt. Remove and preheat oven to 375.
Peel, core, and slice the apples into eighths. Over medium-low heat, melt the remaining butter in the warm skillet, add spices to bloom and then stir the apples and lemon juice in. When apples have softened, stir in a third of the dry breadcrumbs and place the skillet in the oven for 30 minutes. When the timer is up, sprinkle with brown sugar (optional) and spread the remaining bread crumbs on the top. Heat another 10 minutes and serve.