Here's a magnificent, moist, luscious cake from my book, The Cook’s Garden (New Holland 2012). I adore quinces (read my meditation on quinces here) and this is a marvellous way to use them. While there are a few steps involved, I can guarantee the results are worth the trouble. Best served warm with lots of cream or creme fraiche.
- medium ripe quinces - 4, approx 300g each (preferably Smyrna)
- lemon - 1, sliced
- orange - 1, sliced
- unsalted butter - 60g
- caster sugar - 90g
- reserved quince syrup - 60ml
- cardamom seeds - 1 teaspoon
- Cake Batter:
- unsalted butter - 125g
- caster sugar - 90g
- eggs - 4
- self-raising flour - 200g
- baking powder - 1 1/2 teaspoons
- ground cardamom - 1 teaspoon
- ground almonds - 60g
- reserved quince syrup - 100ml
Wipe the down off the quinces and wash them well. Cut them into eighths, removing core and seeds. Place all the parings in a saucepan, cover with water. Add the orange and lemon slices. Simmer until soft , strain and reserve liquid.
Weigh the quince slices. Weigh an equal quantity of sugar and warm it in the oven. Put reserved liquid, quince slices and warm sugar into a large pan and simmer until quince slices are tender, but not falling apart, adding more water if necessary to cover the quinces. Remove quince slices carefully with a slotted spoon and reduce syrup until thick, skimming the surface occasionally. Strain and set aside.
To make the toffee: grease a 23cm -25cm tin and line the bottom with non-stick baking paper. Melt the butter in a small pan, add the sugar and cook over medium heat until a pale toffee colour, swirling the pan frequently so toffee doesn't burn. Add quince syrup and remove from heat. Pour mixture into prepared tin, scatter cardamom seeds over and arrange poached quince slices in a sunflower pattern on bottom of tin.
To make the cake: preheat oven to 180degC.
Put all the ingredients for cake mixture into a food processor and process until smooth. Spoon batter over quinces and bake for 45 - 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Leave to stand for 10 - 15 minutes before turning out. Run a knife around outer edges. Place a large serving plate over the top and tip out. As the cake tips out onto the plate, juices from the toffee will run down the sides, ensuring a moist and very delicious cake.
Tip: Put quince slices into a bowl of acidulated water (water with lemon juice added) to prevent browning. Drain before proceeding. You can use half wholemeal and half white flour in the cake batter.