|Quince tatin as served at Casa Rosada|
There is a certain voluptuousness to a quince, comparable to a character in a Beryl Cook painting.Pure beauty with generous bulges and an unforgettable perfume. Estate agent speak says, always put a pan of these beholden beauties on to boil an hour before potential buyers are coming to view your house.Before you can say Zoopla, your house is sold. So beautiful is the smell of a ripe quince that I always keep a couple in the fruit bowl from now until Christmas, replacing them only as I use them.The best thing about the quince is that she has a good shelf life. The perfume of the cooked fruit imparts a unique scent to any dish it becomes part of.Think pink! think pink! if you want that quel-que chose. Red is dead, blue is through, Green's obscene, brown's taboo. And there is not the slightest excuse for plum or puce or chartreuse. Think pink! forget that Dior says black and rust. The colour it takes on when cooked is like a piece of soft pink carnelian jewellery beckoning to you from the window of Van Cleef and Arpels. Boil them for 20 minutes in water and sugar and they take on a wonderful ruby rose complexion.A colour that could never be matched by any Christian Lacroix beautician on the beauty playgrounds of Selfridges or Bloomingdales.
You will need a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin for 6-8 generous portions
FOR THE QUINCES
juice of one lemon
2 medium sized quinces
2 tablespoons of sugar
FOR THE CAKE
Grated zest of of a lemon
100g of unsalted butter, softened
175g caster sugar
100g plain flour,sieved
100g papa de milho,polenta or cornmeal
Grate the zest from the lemon and set aside for the cake. Squeeze the lemon juice into 300ml of water in a saucepan. peel, core and quarter the quinces, putting them into the water as you go to stop them browning.Add the sugar, place the pan on a medium heat and bring to a rolling boil for about 5 minutes.Reduce the heat and allow the fruit to simmer until it has turned pale pink and has tenderized.This should take 10-15 minutes,depending on the ripeness of the fruit.Leave the quinces to cool in the juice, then drain and strain them. If you want to, reduce the juice by about half to use as a syrup. It will be slightly sharp and rosy pink. When the quinces are cool, pre-heat the oven to 180C /350F7 gas mark 4. Grease the tin and and line with baking parchment, then arrange the quince quarters over the base.
Cream the butter and the sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one by one. Fold in the flour and polenta followed by the lemon zest. Spoon the mixture into the tin on top of the fruit and bake for 45 minutes. Test with a skewer and if it comes out clean its cooked.
To serve, turn out upside down so the fruit is on top and remove the parchment carefully.
If you have made the syrup from the poaching juices, this is delicious poured over the top.
- Tuck in with abandon, spooning quenelles of creme fraiche onto the beauty. S´wonderful!!!!.