Quince Crumble with Ginger, Pear, & Almond
Most of my encounters with quince have been in paste form, and taken place on a cheese board, but mid-autumn being prime quince season, I was pleased to find a barrel-full of the knobbly fist-like fruit on sale at my local supermarket this week.
Some quick research turned up that quince trees, originally found in the Caucasus mountains, got their roots into England in 1275 when Edward the First ordered that four trees be planted at the Tower of London. These made for a popular dessert in the centuries that immediately followed, baked with honey and ginger.
Following this ancient lead, I’ve added ginger in its crystallised form to conceive the crumble recipe below. Once I began tampering though, I couldn’t stop, so cloves, pears, and flaked almonds all made their way into the mix…
When buying quinces, look for those that are a uniform deep yellow in colour. The fruit are covered in a light brownish fluff while still under-ripe, this is easily dusted off though, and a few days at room temperature should be enough to ripen.
Too tart and tannic to eat raw, quince is rapidly softened and sweetened by cooking. A quick poach with a little butter and sugar does the trick in the recipe below…
- 2 large quinces (approx. 800g in total)
- 4 pears
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- 4 tablespoons crystallised stem ginger – roughly chopped
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 100g unsalted butter
- 50g brown sugar
- 1 cup of plain flour
- ⅓ cup of flaked almonds
- Icing sugar to dust (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
Peel the quinces, then cut, avoiding the tough, woody core, into cubes of approximately 2cm. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the quince cubes to stop discolouration.
In a medium saucepan, melt 20g of the butter, with 20g of the brown sugar. Once melted, add the quince, along with a couple of tablespoons of water, and poach over medium heat, for 10-12 minutes or until softened, but not completely mushy.
Meanwhile, peel and core the pears, then cut these into cubes of the same size as the quince.
When the quince has only a couple of minutes left poaching, add the chopped pears, along with the roughly chopped stem ginger. Also add the ground cloves, and continue to poach everything together for a further two minutes.
To make the crumble topping, place the flour and remaining 30g of sugar in a bowl. Cut the butter into cubes, and then add to the flour and sugar. Crumb by rubbing the mixture together using your fingers until you have achieved a coarse breadcrumb texture. Or, alternatively, pulse together in a food processor, but be careful not to over-process or you’ll end up with a fine powder as opposed to crumb!
Lastly, add the flaked almonds to your crumb and mix through.
When ready to bake, spoon the fruit into an oven-proof dish, and then top with the crumble, piling extra in the centre, and leaving some small gaps around the edge for the liquid to bubble up through.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until the topping is golden and crunchy. Dust over a little icing sugar if you’d like, and serve with vanilla ice-cream, pouring cream, or custard.