Every year my parents send me a box of gnarly quince from a friend's tree. You can see last year's box here along with a recipe for some killer tartlets. They are hard and smooth, with hardly any fuzz and a sweet floral fragrance. I like to keep them out in a bowl on my coffee table for a few days because they smell so, so good. I also like to keep them around to remind me that my family is thinking about me even when they are climbing trees and foraging for fruit.
I have declared my love for quince again and again on this blog and I have a few new quince recipes up my sleeve this year. The first is for this amazing custard cake that I bookmarked ages ago. I know custard cake sounds a little complicated (and maybe a little weird), but if you have the time and patience to poach the quince, this cake comes together so easily. You can even mix it all in one bowl if you are feeling rebellious and don't want to whisk together your dry ingredients first (but I didn't tell you that was ok, ok?).
The result is crispy on the outside, dense and custardy on the inside and packed full of my favorite fall fruit, lightly poached with simple flavors. It's one of those desserts that is delicious served with a bit of creme fraiche or whipped cream and equally good as an afternoon snack with a cup of tea, and who am I kidding, it's great for breakfast too.
On a very different note, I'm sure many of you have heard about the devastating hurricane that blew through the Northeast this week. My household, was very, very lucky and we are so thankful that we were hardly affected at all, but others have not fared as well. If you are in NYC please consider signing up to volunteer by emailing email@example.com with your name, email address and borough. Also, support local businesses as much as possible. Even one day without sales can be devastating for them, especially restaurants and other food businesses. If you are far away, keep the coast in your thoughts and consider donating to the Red Cross or other relief organizations. Here is a list of other ways you can help relief efforts from the Wall Street Journal. Here is another great list of ways to help, divided by borough from Opening Ceremony via Brian Ferry. Be safe and take care of each other out there.
Update 11/5: Jenna at Sweet Fine Day compiled a list of NYC based organizations providing direct relief to people affected by the hurricane & The Occupy Sandy Relief Facebook Page is another excellent source of information if you want to help or volunteer directly. They've also set up an amazon registry if you are far away and would like to donate goods that will get to the folks who need them most. Occupy Sandy Relief Registry
Quince Custard Cake
adapted from Brandi Henderson
3.75 ounces all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons quince poaching liquid
4 ounces butter, melted
1 lb poached quince, drained well and chopped (about 3 medium quince, poaching instructions below)
1 tablespoon crunchy sugar like turbinado or light demerara
a few tablespoons of confectioner's sugar for dusting
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds until foamy. Whisk in the poaching liquid and melted butter.
3. Gently fold in the flour mixture, followed by the chopped quince. Pour the mixture into the pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with crunchy sugar. Slide into the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely before removing from the pan. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream or creme fraiche if desired.
This recipe makes enough for the cake, plus some extra for snacking or maybe use the extra to make this Buckle.
5 cups water or half water and half white wine
2 cups sugar
1/2 lemon, cut into 1/4'' wedges
1 strip orange zest
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped or 1t vanilla extract
4 medium quince, peeled, cored and cut into 8 wedges each
Over medium heat, combine the sugar and water (or water and wine) in a medium saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon, vanilla bean seeds and pod and quince and stir gently to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook the quince gently until they are soft and fork tender, but not mushy. This can take from 20-40 minutes depending on how ripe your quince are and how thickly they are sliced
Store the quince in their syrup until you are ready to use them and save the syrup for soda or cocktails. Serve the extra with yogurt or ice cream, or enjoy them as they are.
p.s. Sorry to the folks that received this post twice, blogger and I got into a fight.