Friday, March 23, 2012
I love Autumn. I love the crisp mornings, the warm days and the promise of cardigan weather ahead (and Baby G has a lot of lovely cardigans to wear). But mostly I love Autumn because of the fact it's quince season.
Like our leader, Faux Fuchsia, I am a devotee of the lumpy, ugly, inedible fruit. Well, inedible until it's poached in a pot with vanilla, a cinnamon quill, a strip of lemon peel, some sugar and some water for hours on end. Then it's pure ambrosia. I like to eat them for breakfast with yoghurt (or dessert with yoghurt, or afternoon tea with yoghurt) but they are also good in plain butter cakes too. I am making a frangipane tart tomorrow with some from this batch before starting the process again and poaching more fruit on Sunday for the week ahead. They perfume the house beautifully.
They don't last long in the shops but I am reliably informed that poached quinces freeze well. I will be attempting that with this next batch, but for now, I am sitting back with a few delicious morsels and, yes, some yoghurt.
3 cups sugar (castor is fine)
5 cups water
1 cinnamon quill
1 vanilla bean
Peel of a lemon
Peel, quarter and core the quinces, reserving the scraps. Im a heavy based pot, dissolve the sugar in the water and add the aromatics: the cinnamon, cloves, lemon peel and vanilla bean. Add the quinces and the core and peel and bring to the simmer (adding the peel and core will make the colour deeper in the cooked quinces). Cover the quinces with a round of baking paper (a cartouche) and the lid of the pot (I use my Le Creuset french oven) and place in a slow oven (150-160 degrees C) for about three hours, checking to make sure the poaching liquid still covers the fruit. The quinces will feel soft to touch and pierce easily with a sharp knife when they are done. Strain off the aromatics and the scraps and store in the fridge in the syrup for up to a week.