Quince have been used in British kitchens since (probably) the 13th century and mead’s history goes back even further, so I’ve gone a bit medieval on you today. The flavours complement each perfectly, the sweetness of the fermented honey drink cutting the astringency of the quince.
Chuck in some sweet spices and citrus and you’ve got a dessert that takes minutes to prepare, though admittedly hours to cook.
It’s a lovely dish to bung in the oven to finish a leisurely weekend meal, but you can make it in advance and eat it cold or gently re-heated, if that fits your schedule better. I like it best warm, with a good dollop of honeyed yoghurt … just stir runny honey into Greek yoghurt until you get the level of sweetness you like. Alternatively, whip double cream with some of the quince syrup. Delicious.
NB: it’s been a phenomenally good year for quince, we’ve been eating them non-stop. I am planning a meat dish with quince which I hope to get to you before their fleeting season is over. If not, bookmark it for next year!
Baked Quince with Mead
4 medium quince
200 ml mead
150g golden caster sugar
3-4 pieces of orange peel (no pith)
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp allspice berries
Pre-heat the oven to 140C/275F/Gas Mark 1.
Squeeze the citrus juices into an oven-proof dish big enough to hold the quince in a single layer once halved. Add the spices, orange peel and sugar.
Wash any fluff from the quinces then cut them in half lengthways. Toss them in the citrus juices to stop them discolouring then arrange them cut side up in the dish.
Take a sheet of baking paper slightly larger than your dish, run it under the tap and then scrumple it up. Un-crumple it and lay it over the quince, tucking in the sides. Cover tightly with foil, then pop on a lid, if your dish has one.
Bake for two hours.Then remove the coverings, baste with the syrup and cook for a further two hours uncovered, basting occasionally. Don’t be conned, the quince will feel tender to the point of a knife after the first two hours but it won’t be soft all the way through to the core.
Serve with the yoghurt or cream, with syrup spooned over the top.
This is all very well, but I’ve never seen them in the shops, nor do I know anyone who grows them
Sorry to hear that, Margaret. I’d send you some but they weigh a ton! Come to Suffolk this time next year and you can PYO. 🙂
I really must take you up on that!
…or next time u come to London 🙂 .. let me know, my turskihs shop round the corner has quinces from now until spring actually (I might be wrong but I think I also saw them at waitrose: not big to be honest, but at least they were there…check it out)
The Holloway Road is a treasure trove, as is Green Lanes. I don’t think mine will last until next time I’m in town, otherwise I’d bring you some. Unusual for mainstream supermarkets to stock them, I think their shelf life is too short for most. And yes, a lot of ours are small this year, I think it was the summer drought. We did water the trees but we have so many to get around! How do you cook your quince, Stefano?
Oooh, thank you. there is a Turkish shop in Lewisham too, which I vsiit when I see my son’s family. I’ll check it out. And no, I’ve not spotted them in our Waitrose.
Linda this looks easy to make and very tasty to eat. Viking Mead is really making a comeback over here, but I’ve yet to taste it and now I must. Kvitten (Quince) are abundant here, mead is available, so this dish is headed to my table soon.
I hope you like it, Ron. My husband says I ought to tell people that even with the long baking, the cores are still hard, so you need to eat it with a spoon and fork! Of course you could quarter the quince and core them (less cooking time too, obvs) but they don’t look as pretty.
splendid stuff. I have them in my fridge, red and white… but this looks tempting too. .. and even in London they r fairly cheap (god bless the holloway rd’s turkish shops 🙂 )
See above for reply! Thanks, Stefano.
YumMMmmMmMmMmh~! Fantastic combination, I absolutely love the mead-idea! We always have a bottle or three in the house since coming home empty-handed from a medieval festival/renaissance fair just doesn’t work for us 😀 I’ve got a not-so-sweet dessert combo of goat’s cheese créme brûlée and rosemary-spiked quinces (following a persian beef & quince stew) lined up for sunday, I hope you don’t mind if I poach on your mead-idea~
Not at all, thank you. And great minds! I’m doing a similar stew. Are you posting it this weekend? It’ll be interesting to see how each of us approaches it! Lx
Hmmm… I didn’t plan on posting it until the end of November, but I think I could get it post-ready for this Wednesday, if you’d like to go for a Compare and Contrast team-up on all things quincey, stewy and meaty~! 😀
Haha, no, no need to do that, I’m happy to wait and compare notes when you’re ready to post it. Mine is still a work in progress at the moment!
Alright, then~! I just checked, I’ve got it scheduled for Dec 5th, just after Hubby’s birthday – which has turned into a kind of set date for my take on the Persian Quince & Beef Stew (Khoresh Beh) – or my Hazelnut-Crusted Venison and Spiced Quince Ragout, but that’s a different story – to appear on our table if the weather is cold and icky enough 😀 He’s not as coocoo about quinces as I am, but these two have definitely caught his attention~ (which is probably why he conveniently “lost” the results of a photosession with these dishes in the past…)
I look forward to it! The quince ragout sounds interesting, too. But how can anyone not love quince with a deep and abiding passion? Incomprehensible! 🙂
I have to admit, I don’t think I’ve tried either quince or mead… But the dish is oddly familiar. Reminds me in a way of pears poached in mulled red wine, which I love. And I bet I’d really enjoy this.
Thank you Frank. It’s not dissimilar but the quince are tangier than pears. And take longer to cook!
Sounds delightful – I guess at the bones of it, it’s honey and fruit which is such a lovely combination. I’m liking the medieval slant too, I’ve recently gone back to my reproductions of early recipes books (English and Italian) as frankly I’m cheesed off with much of the modern stuff. Cooks years gone by had to really know what flavours went with what, given the little they had (compared with now) so it really worked. …although somethings you just wouldn’t want to ressurrect! xxx
Thanks, Lynn. I think often it’s a case of ‘what grows together, goes together’, as Dorothy Hartley (might have) said. I’m delving back into early books, too, there are some incredible recipes in there. Lx
I can’t wait to see more of your recipes like this then – it seems to be you at your best! I take you’re re-reading Food in England? xx
I’m deep in Eliza Acton at the moment! But I’ve just bought a wonderful reprint of a 18th century book which is crammed with veggie recipes.
yes, I’ve got a reprint of Eliza’s book – have you got Pegge’s Forme of Cury?
Yes! We should put our heads together some time … have you got Elinor Fettiplace? I get shivers just reading Hilary Spurling’s intro!
No – I haven’t!! Quickly googles… yes, I’d love to get together over this
Let’s sort something out!