Quince Doughnuts

Image of quince treeI love quince, it’s one of my favourite fruits and I’m always a bit bemused when people say they don’t know what to do with them, because they’re so versatile. I suppose it’s a lack of familiarity: because their shelf life is short, supermarkets tend not to stock them.

Try befriending someone with a quince tree, in a good year they will have so many they’ll be glad to find them a good home. Trust me, I know.

You can use them in pies, crumbles and puddings, add them to apple sauce, make pickles and preserves, put them in savoury dishes like tagines … their aromatic flavour is an asset to many forms of cooking. Just don’t try them raw, when they’re sour and grainy. Cooked, they are sensational in these filled, cinnamon-sugared doughnuts.

They’re a world away from shop-bought, so light you could almost kid yourself they’re not fattening. If you can’t get your hands on a quince or two, you can substitute apples, preferably a sharp, collapsible cooking variety such as Bramley. (Or even jam.)

I tried a number of recipes and methods before deciding on this one … some doughs were way too wet to handle. My thanks to veteran US baker Andrew Fink for some good advice which I’ve incorporated in the recipe.

Quince Doughnuts

Image of quince doughnuts

Ingredients for the dough: 

210g white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

7g sachet dried fast action yeast

40g caster sugar

1/2 tspn salt

1 medium egg, lightly beaten

100ml whole milk

50g cold unsalted butter, diced

About 1 1/2 litres sunflower oil, for deep-frying

For the cinnamon sugar:

4 tbsp caster sugar

1 tspn powdered cinnamon

For the filling:

400g quince (about 2 fruits)

Around 4 tbsp sugar

Water

Method:

Put the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a bowl and mix well. On a low heat, melt the butter with the milk. Allow to cool for five minutes, then make a well in the flour and pour it in, along with the beaten egg.

Stir to mix, then knead in a mixer with a dough hook for eight to 10 minutes until smooth and glossy. It should be soft but firm. You can do this by hand on a lightly floured board if you prefer. Although I used a mixer I did give it a couple of turns on a floured worktop to bring it all together nicely.

Place in lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and place somewhere warm until it has doubled in size, around an hour. Then divide the dough into 8 pieces and, on a lightly floured work surface, form into balls by pinching the edges into the middle, turning them over and tucking the pinch underneath, turning and tightening as you would for a bread roll.

Put them on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and dusted with flour, loosely cover with lightly oiled cling film. Leave to rise somewhere warm until doubled in size again, about 45 minutes.

Image of quince doughnuts, second rise

Andrew says the best way to tell if they’re proved is to poke the side gently with a finger: if it springs back slowly, they’re ready; if it springs back fast, they’re under-proved; if it doesn’t spring back at all you’ve overdone it. It’s better to err on the side of under-proving in a domestic kitchen than over-prove, otherwise they’ll collapse when you lift them to put them in the oil.

While all this is going on, prepare your quinces. Peel, core and slice them, add them to a pan with two tablespoons of sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice, half cover with water and put on a lid. Simmer until soft and collapsing. Taste and add more sugar … I used another 2 tbsp. Put through a sieve or mouli for a smooth puree, as quince can be grainy.

Mix the remaining caster sugar and cinnamon on a large deep plate. Have ready another plate lined with a couple of layers of kitchen paper.

Once the doughnuts are fully proved, pour the oil into a deep pan to a depth of 5cm (don’t fill further than halfway) or use a deep fat fryer. Heat to 160C and, using a slotted spoon, carefully lower the doughnuts into the oil and cook in batches for three minutes a side, until golden brown with a paler ring round the middle. Keep the temperature constant and don’t turn them more than once. Chopsticks are handy for flipping them.

Image of doughnuts frying

Cooking at this temperature flies in the face of most advice, which suggests hotter oil for a shorter time, but I agree with Felicity Cloake that this way they cook properly all the way through to the middle. Contrary to expectation they didn’t soak up the oil and come out greasy.

Remove, again using your trusty slotted spoon, drain on the kitchen paper and when cool enough to handle roll in the cinnamon sugar.

Image of doughnuts rolled in cinnamon sugar

Cut a small slit in the side of each doughnut and using a piping syringe or a piping bag with a wideish nozzle, squirt in about a tablespoon of quince puree.

Eat the same day, ideally while still warm.

Image of centre of doughnut

14 thoughts on “Quince Doughnuts

  1. Quince (quinces?) were part of life in France, but I never see them here. All the same, doughnuts are not favourite treats here in this house. Are home made so very much better than shop bought?

    • …. says the woman with a mulberry tree in the garden! Yes, I do think they’re better than shop-bought, it’s the difference between home-made bread and a supermarket loaf. That’s not to say there aren’t some good bakers out there selling them. You may be lucky. 🙂

  2. ! thanks. I love them, quinces (and doughnuts too, but is something I rarely eat)… I am lucky because I live in a Turkish area (well, close to…): I tend to make cotognata/membrillo/quince cheese cooking them for 10-12 hrs until pith dark (from a lovely recipe from the elizabeathen cookery book of Elinor Fattiplace (there is a nice edition with the forward of E. David)
    what I found really boring is the sieving…. I should buy a proper, strong tamis (and still, it would be a pain…)
    I also experimented with some of the Claudia Roden’s recipes that use quinces and they are all very good
    You are so lucky (and wise) to have a tree (by the way: gosh: one has a mulberry tree and the other one a quince tree!!!! super envious)
    …of course then, also a little quince jelly, atop a crusty scone with some creme fraiche is something I cannot resist… 🙂
    thanks for trying out doughnuts recipes for us all…
    ps: on cooking at lower temperature: I agree. there is also an exceptional recipe for amazing fries from America Test Kitchen, where u start from cold oil!!: u put spuds and oil together and bring slowly to simmer… the crispiest, driest fries ever!
    stefano

    • I LOVE the Elinor Fettiplace book, I’ve used that recipe too. Excellent. I’ll have to check out Claudia Roden’s quince recipes, although this wasn’t such a good year for our quince. Last year we had so many I literally couldn’t give them away. The potato fries method sounds interesting, will check it out, especially as my deep fat fryer has given up the ghost. Cheers, Stefano. Lx

  3. I can take or leave doughnuts general but knowing that quince was lurking within It would be an enthusiastic yes please. I love quinces slowly poached in the oven until they are deep crimson but it must have been a bad season this year, we missed out.

    • I just love quince, period. It wasn’t a good season for us this year, a lot of the fruit split, not enough water at the right time, I guess. I have to say quince doughnuts are flippin’ lovely. Thanks, Sandra. 🙂

  4. Oh my god… of sweet sins~! I can’t remember the last time I even thought of being interested in a doughnut, but these sound like the most delicious doughnuts ever invented~! You know how near-ocd I am when it comes to sinful treats like these, but I think one or three of these will be enough to simply stun any calorie-related bad conscience into silence for a while~ Saved on my to-do list for my next batch of quinces 🙂
    Speaking of sins, I’ve read somewhere that THE apple was actually a quince…

    • Yes, I’ve read that, too … and these are terribly tempting! I find it impossible to eat more than one in a day (ok, two) and they really are best eaten straight away, so it’s handy to have family and friends around when they come out of the pan. Does that help alleviate the guilt quotient? 😀

      • Don’t want to worry you, but the vicar who used to do religious education lessons at my primary school once told me Linda meant ‘serpentlike’. 😉

      • Haha 😀 well, you successfully tempted me – I have no defenses when it comes to quinces~ I’ve already got the ingredients together and an excited hubby rubbing his hands in anticipation of sunday evening 🙂

      • Deb, I am so chuffed, thanks! I look forward to hearing what you (and the excitable husband) think! It’s always so nice when someone likes your food enough to cook it. Lxxx

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