Quince!

Exclamation marks are a form of punctuation that express strong feelings. That is, excluding its use in mathematics or computer programming – except possibly when expressing frustration over a mis-placed symbol that throws the whole equation/code out of whack. But, that is a whole other story. In the title of this post, however, a normal English language punctuation mark is used to express strong feelings – in this case, either utter despair or great elation…or perhaps a mixture of both. The question “What do I do with my harvest of quince?” elicits wildly changeable feelings, depending on my levels of optimism at any given time.

You see, I was in a bit of a quandary. I have plenty of membrillo in the refrigerator and a huge 3 litre jar of ratafia de coings (quince liqueur) infusing in the cool cellar. Then, there are the jars of quince jam, pickled quinces and quinces preserved in brandy syrup on the pantry shelves. I love this rather odd fruit, but what more could I do with it?

quince_feature

A Greek friend of mine reminded me that her mother slow-cooks her quinces in the oven. That immediately sparked the little grey cells and sent me searching through the blogs I follow. Somewhere I saw something about baked quinces that sounded delicious.

I should have guessed that it would be on one of my favourite blogs – Please Pass the Recipe‘s Ruby Red Quince. Once mine were made (and they were perfection as advertised), I wanted to find ways of using them, that is, other than simply gobbling them up.*

quince_kuchen

Quince Küchen
Küchen is a German word for cake. However, if you do a web search for küchen, most of them are fruit topped creations – that is, if you select English language sites only. This küchen is based on a flan-like flatish cake, in the original recipe topped with pears poached in wine. In fact, it is a wee bit like a Bakewell Tart – that is, if you forgive the absence of the shortcrust pastry and the almond in the cake!

  • 1 poached quince, sliced (about 1/6 the recipe of Ruby Red Quince)
  • 110g (4oz) unsalted butter
  • 100g (3.5oz) castor sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 125g plain (all purpose) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • optional cinnamon sugar – 1 Tablespoon castor sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (a 3 to 1 ratio)

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (approximately 340 degrees F). Prepare a 24cm (9-1/2in) springform pan by buttering the sides and lining the bottom with baking parchment, dust with flour. if you don’t have the same dimension of springform, it should be at least 23cm or 9in diameter.

In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, then add the egg and the vanilla extract. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt before adding it to the creamed butter mixture. Mix until well incorporated. Place the batter (it will be stiff) into the springform pan, pushing it to cover the bottom and creating a slight rim up the sides.

quince_kuchen_prep1

Cut the quince slices into 1/2cm slices and arrange in a pattern on top of the cake batter. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, although this is optional.

quince_kuchen_prep2

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until a knife inserted in the cake comes out clean and the cake has acquired a golden brown colour. Cool for a few minutes before running a knife around the edge and removing it from the springform pan. Cool on a rack.

quince_kuchen_prep3

With a spoon, drizzle with a little buttercream icing (recipe below). Cut into wedges and enjoy!

Buttercream Icing
This will probably make more than you need. Simply freeze what is left and reserve it for another cake.

  • 14g (1/2oz) butter
  • 2 Tablespoons double (heavy) cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 85g (3oz.) confectioner’s sugar

Place the butter and cream in a saucepan and heat on low until the butter melts – or heat in the microwave for 10 seconds. Take it off the heat and add the vanilla. Sift the confectioner’s sugar into the butter mixture, stirring until smooth.

quince_kuchen_slice

* The poaching liquid was turned into a wonderful ruby red quince jelly, plus there are still a few quinces left from the 2014 harvest, wrapped in paper and stored in the wooden apple rack. Enough, at least, for cooking with lamb or pork. Phew! They’re all accounted for this year!

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22 comments

  1. Thanks for the kind words and the link Deb. I still have one container of quinces left in the freezer from last autumn, I think I might make a GF version of your cake to serve for dessert tonight. You’ve inspired me…

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    • It is a great cake. I took most of it around to a friend’s house (too dangerous to keep at home with all those calories!) and her daughter finished off two slices in no time. Your poached quince instructions were spot on, although my homegrown quinces were probably smaller than yours, so I had quite a bit of poaching liquid left in the end. Next time, I might adjust the liquid level, but otherwise, they produced perfect ruby red quince slices. Very yummy. Cherry @ Cheergram and the Silly Yak suggested quince upside down cake -another good idea.

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  2. That looks gorgeous.Your cake looks ambrosial. As my quince is just in flowering stage, it’s a 6 month wait for me to try it. However, I am wondering about your recipe for the ratafia de coings? Is that on your blog somewhere? Sounds Divine.
    Poached quinces are common in Australia, not only thanks to the talented madame Sandra of ‘Please Pass the Recipe’ but also thanks to Stephanie Alexander, who popularised this form of cooking quinces, and the heavenly smell that wafts around the place as you do so.
    I often shove the poached slices in a frangipane mixture then bake it as an almondy quincy thing.. Poached quince, in its cooking liquid, keeps in a covered box in the fridge for at least a month, ready for more cakes and tarts.And as for the cooking syrup- heavenly drizzle.

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    • I will certainly do this poaching business again in future. Sandra’s recipe came at an appropriate time. My Greek friend’s mother uses less liquid, more sugar and tucks in whole cloves and pieces of cinnamon stick. The ratafia de coings comes from Susan Loomis’ cookbook, French Farmhouse Cookbook (which, incidentally, I will soon be posting about). It is simple: A few quince (approximately 4 large ones), washed, but not peeled or cored. I used my imperfect ones – split or beginning to turn brown on one side. Cut the unblemished parts of the quince into chunks and place in a food processor and chop until you get small pieces. Put the pieces into a large non-reactive jar with a lid. Add a litre of vodka and 400g sugar. Seal, shake to dissolve sugar and leave in a cool dark place for at least a month. Shake it occasionally if you can remember. At the end of the infusing time, strain and bottle – there will be sediment that forms, so you can filter it through a cloth as well if you want. It continues to mellow with age. I have a bottle (nearly finished) that is five years old and is wonderful. Let me know if you try it.

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  3. I’m looking forward to the day when I have the same dilemma as you! I’ve planted two quince trees after experiments with the ‘quince’ fruits from Chaenomeles (Japanese quince shrub) but they were too small to fruit this year. OOooh but next year…. ! Thanks for introducing me to Pass the Recipes blog, I’m always in search of inspiration!

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    • What variety of quince did you plant? Mine is Meeches Prolific and has an exceptional perfume. I’ve know people to make quince cheese from Japanese quince, but mine never seem to produce fruit – although the flowers are lovely in the spring. Please Pass the Recipe blog is one of my all time favourites. Hope you enjoy it, too.

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  4. These are some great ideas for using quince. I can’t usually get enough to have any problem using them, but my usual is just to roast them in the oven. They add such a punch to an otherwise boring fancy dinner.

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    • Well, the tree keeps on producing… I planted it five or six years ago and it really took off. I do love the fruit, but sometimes coping with an abundance is a bit nerve wracking. I am so glad that I tried Ruby Red Quince that Sandra posted on her blog. It produces a very versitile poached fruit that can be frozen for later use. The cake was spectacular and I’ve had requests to make it again – the sign of a successful recipe!

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  5. OMG what I wouldn’t do for a slice of this! I saw quinces in the store finally…$3 each. I just couldn’t. Unless I had a really special recipe. Like this one! Gorgeous. Last year I made membrillo. Lots of stirring but so worth it! I really like the way you eat!

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    • I guess I am really lucky having a quince tree if that’s the price one has to pay! I love membrillo and usually make it every year, but I over-did it last year and still have plenty left in the refrigerator. I am really glad I poached the quinces this way – very versatile!

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  6. Now that’s a kuchen! The quince looks so beautiful and autumnal, I have never cooked them that way so when they come back in season I will certainly be trying that oven method. You solved your abundance problem beautifully.

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    • If you have quinces, I highly recommend this method of cooking. Sandra (@Please Pass the Recipe) also says they can be frozen after poaching, so you will always have a ready supply. The küchen was a big hit and I find myself making another one for a dinner party tonight.

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