Karma kharma kharma carnelian
The quince for me is the quintessential autumn fruit, and with the start of baking season what could be better than a simple, yet delicious quince tart?
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 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. 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 make up artist on the cheeks of a Strictly Come Dancing celebrity. Quinces are full of pectin too and make a spectacular glaze.They lend an astonishingly lush pink colour to the glaze but if you can’t find quinces, you could substitute very firm pears—they won’t blush but they’ll still taste fine.Uncooked quinces are quite harsh tasting, but simmering them in sugar syrup transforms them, turning the flavour sweet and delicate.I have used quince jam to make a glaze here and accentuate the unique flavour of the fruit.Everyone knows what marmalade is. Though did you know that the very word "marmalade", marmelada in Portuguese, means "quince jam"? "marmelo" - it was from quince that they made an amazing home-made marmalade from ancient times. Apparently the recipe has Roman origins and goes back to the 4th / 5th century AD.
Sweet pastry dough for 23cm / 9inch pastry shell
625ml/1 pint water
375g/ 12oz sugar
1 cinnamon stick About 5cm
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
2 large quinces
155g 7 5oz quince jam
FOR THE PASTRY you can make the pastry in advance.
Cream the butter and sugar together,then add the yolks one at a time.Stir in the flour to form a soft dough,then form into a fat disc,wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and put in a baking sheet.Roll out the pastry to fit the tart tin and line it with the pastry,pushing gently down so that it lies flat on the bottom,leaving a little overhang.Put back in the fridge for a further 20 minutes to rest again.
Roll a rolling pin over the top of the tart tin to cut off excess pastry neatly.
Line the tin with foil or baking parchment and fill with baking beans.Put the tin in the oven for 15 minutes,then remove beans and foil or parchment and give it another 5 -10 minutes,until fully baked,browned and crisp,transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Turn the oven down to 170C/gas mark 3.
FOR THE FILLING
Combine the water,sugar,cinnamon stick and lemon zest in a saucepan.Bring to a boil,stirring until the sugar dissolves.Turn the heat to low while you prepare the fruit.Peel halve and core each quince just as you would an apple.Cut each half into 4 wedges.Drop into the simmering sugar syrup and cook,partially covered,until tender but not mushy,15- 20 minutes.Remove from the heat and let cool completely.Drain the quinces well,reserving the liquid,Pat them dry on paper towels.Cut each wedge lengthwise into 2 or 3 slices; set aside.In a small heavy based saucepan combine the quince jam with 4 tablespoons of the reserved quince poaching liquid.Place over a high heat and boil until thick and syrupy,which should take several minutes and you might need to add some extra quince liquid if it thickens too quickly.Pass the syrup through a fine mesh sieve to remove any pulp.Brush a coating of of the warm sieved glaze over the bottom of the cooled tart shell.arrange the quince slices attractively in the tart shell,overlapping each other.Carefully brush with the remaining glaze and serve as soon as possible.