Friday, October 29, 2010
Quince are a funny little fruit. They look a bit like a squashed lumpy pear and depending on when you buy them they can be covered with a thin layer of fuzz. Their perfumed yellow flesh is hard and acidic and totally inedible when raw, but when they are cooked something amazing happens. The quince softens and turns the most lovely rosy red color and can be used in a number of preparations including jelly, tarts, pies, membrillo to be eaten with cheese, or just simply poached and eaten with yogurt and granola or ice cream. They also can be added to apple or pear pastries to give them a little something extra.
Gingerbread is one of my favorite fall and winter treats and the addition of quince really takes this simple cake to a new level. It requires you to poach the quince before baking, but if you don't have the time you can easily substitute raw apples or pears. Or you can forgo the fruit all together and just sprinkle some crunchy sugar on top before baking, but then it wouldn't be an upside down cake and that's half the fun!
recipe can be multiplied as needed
2 or 3 medium quince
3 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 strips orange zest
1t vanilla extract (use 1/2 a bean if you have it)
1/2 t cinnamon
1. Mix all of the ingredients, minus the quince, in a saucepan and bring to a simmer
2. While the mix is coming to a simmer, peel, core, and cut the quince into quarters. Be careful when cutting, quince are really hard. Plop them into the water as you go, and put a lid about 1/2 covering the pot.
3. Simmer until tender, at least an hour. This part will make your kitchen smell heavenly.
4. Let the quince cool in their syrup until ready to use.
Ginger Cake adapted from the Macrina Bakery and Cafe Cookbook
For the Topping
1 1/2 T room temp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 to 3 poached quince (see above) cut into quarters, or apples, or pears
For the Cake
1 stick butter
6T light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup molasses
1T peeled grated ginger
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 t baking powder
3/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t cloves
3/4 cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 7'' cake pan with high sides and line the bottom with an 8'' circle of parchment paper. Alternately, you can double this entire recipe (including the fruit) and use a 9'' or 10'' pan.
For the topping
1. In a medium saucepan combine the butter and brown sugar and cook over medium heat for about 1 minute. Pour the mixture into the bottom of your lined pan, then arrange the fruit on top in a decorative pattern making sure that the bottom of the pan is covered. Put pan aside.
For the Cake
1. Cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, add the grated ginger and mix 1 more minute.
2. Scrape down the bowl and add the eggs one at a time. Then slowly pour in the molasses.
3. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cloves.
4. Alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the batter, being careful not to overmix.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
6. Bake for 45 minutes or until lightly golden brown, a toothpick should come out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then invert onto a plate and gently peel away the parchment paper.
Eat warm with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream, then eat the leftovers for breakfast.