Before making this cake I had two experiences of quince: firstly, as something the Owl and the Pussycat ate by the light of the moon (with runcible spoons, what else?) and, secondly, as that sticky paste/thick jam you get served on a cheeseboard.
I hadn’t planned to bake with quince but when browsing the stalls in Borough Market I spotted the lovely big round yellow fruits – looking very much like pregnant apples – and bought them on the spur of the moment, worrying about finding a recipe afterwards.
My next step was to look online for quince cake recipes. There weren’t that many in truth. Lots of recipes for paste, few for cake. As with everything in life, Amazon showed me the way – would you believe it sells a cookbook devoted to quince? Silly as it sounds (and trust me, I know it sounds silly) I felt like I had to do right by my beautiful quince so ordered the book. This method of cooking the quince comes from it...I’ve teamed it with a buttery, sweet pound cake-esque recipe.
If I had to sum up quince I’d say:
gorgeous aroma, like tropical apples
beautiful colour when cooked
lovely delicate flavour and texture
good score in a game of Scrabble
difficult to peel and cut keeping all fingers intact. It is a brute to cut – hard and dense in texture
needs a bit of love and care – in this recipe you have to poach the quince for 2.5 hours before you can even start making the cake
Here are the quince just about to start their 2 ½ poaching marathon:
Here they are at the end of the poaching time; their colour and aroma was just divine!
The texture was akin to pear, but the taste was tropical apple. We were all big fans. Quince and me may only just have met but I see this as the start of a beautiful friendship....if friendship is the right word where one of the ‘friends’ is always eaten by the other!
For the quince:
150g caster sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick – about 6cm long
3 medium quince – peeled, cored and cut into wedges (about 12 wedges per quince)
For the cake:
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
350g caster sugar (this isn’t a typo!!!)
280g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150ml double cream
2 tablespoons of the poaching syrup you cooked the quince in.
Start by preparing the quince – this can be done up to 3 days ahead of making the cake.
Place all the ingredients into a large pan and bring to a simmer over a low heat.
Cover the pan and simmer for 2-2 ½ hours or until the quince turns a deep red colour.
Remove from the heat and discard the cinnamon stick.
Cool to room temperature and then chill until cold.
Cover and chill until needed – the quince will keep for up to 3 days.
Now make the cake: Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan oven 170°C/375°F/Gas mark 5.
Line a 20cm round springform tin with baking paper.
Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Don’t skimp on this stage as this is when you get lots of lovely air into your sponge.
While the butter and sugar is creaming, drain the chilled fruit through a sieve (retain the poaching syrup) and pat dry with paper towels.
Beat in the eggs one at a time (to the butter and sugar) and beat to ensure they are well incorporated.
Add half of the flour along with the baking powder, cinnamon and vanilla.
Add half of the cream and beat until combined.
Beat in the remaining flour, followed by the remaining cream and the 2 tablespoons of poaching syrup.
Fold the quince into the batter and spoon into the prepared cake tin – I retained some of the prettier slices to place on top of the batter; I also cut some of the bigger chunks through as I didn’t want them to sink in the cake.
Bake for approximately 1 hour 10 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Mine took nearer 1 ½ hours. If the top starts to brown too much, cover loosely with foil.
Leave to cool on a wire rack until the tin is cool enough to handle, then turn the cake out and leave to cool completely.
Serve with a cup of tea – nothing else is needed!
Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have made.