Quince is an old English fruit that is best described as a cross between an apple and a pear. It is not as fashionable as it once was and so is harder to come by, but is currently in season, so it’s worth asking at your local large supermarket or greengrocer. The fruit itself is hard and not particularly tasty raw, but once cooked it transforms from a green to a soft, sweeter pink flesh.
This fruit is typically used to make a jelly to be served with cheese or cold meats, but I wanted to be slightly more adventurous and create something with pastry and this recipe seemed to suit. In simply terms, a Tarte Tatin (which is traditionally made with apples) is a French upside-down tart – it’s cooked with the pastry on top and inverted to serve.
This dish is usually baked in a Tatin dish (a round, deep-sided and sloping sided metal dish), but if you don’t have one a skillet pan will work fine (as I have used).
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
- 6 – 8 quince
- 1 lemon
- 350g sugar
- 40g butter
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 litre boiling water
- sweet shortcrust pastry (shop bought is fine) – defrosted and chilled in the fridge
- In a medium pan add the water, half the sugar, the zest of a lemon and half the juice of a lemon.
- Peel, core and quarter the quince (I find a small knife easier for peeling quince than an actual peeler, but use whichever implement is easiest for you) and add the pan of water.
- Turn heat up high and bring to the boil. As soon as the pan is bubbling, clamp on a lid, turn the heat down low and leave to simmer for 8 minutes. The drain the pan and set the quince aside. The idea is to par-cook them – you don’t want them too soft yet otherwise they’ll lose their shape later.
- Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.
- In the Tatin (or skillet) pan, add the remaining sugar and melt over a medium heat. You must not stir with a spoon yet, but can swill round. Just as the sugar has melted and is starting to go golden add the butter – now you can stir. Then take off the heat.
- Add the quince to the pan with the flatter faces down in a circular pattern around the Tatin tin. Drizzle over the remaining lemon juice and cinnamon.
- On a floured surface, roll out the sweet shortcrust pastry to about half a cm thick and cut to a circle that is just bigger than the Tatin dish and then place over the fruit.
- Push the edges down the side of the pan and then bake in the over for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling up the sides.
- Once out of the oven, leave to cool for 10 minutes, then loosen around the edges with a palette knife. Place a large plate over the dish and invert. A thump on the pan or a short but vigorous shake should completely release the pie onto the plate, showing all the fruit facing up. Don’t worry if one of 2 pieces are left in the pan – just remove them from the pan and squidge gently into the place in the pie.
- I serve mine warm with creme fraiche