Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Contradictions and lessons: Quince cake.

quince cake

This cake was both a disaster and a success. It seems odd that one cake can be so contradictory, but it's true. It was a success because I hadn't made a cake with quinces before, and there were so many opportunities for it to go badly, but it didn't. The quinces were perfectly poached, the batter tasted good and the syrup on top was amazing.
It was a disaster, though, because of the syrup on top. If you only learn one thing today, please, let it be this: Don't be impatient.
I poured the syrup on the cake while it was cooling in the pan. And then I flipped out the cake onto a plate. When I tried to flip it back onto the cooling rack, the syrup was stuck to the plate and ripped the sticky top off the cake. Not completely, but enough for me to freak out.
I freak out a lot when I'm baking.
And I don't think the cake was quite cooked properly.

So there you have it: Contradictions.

quince cake

A quince is not a pretty fruit. They're motley yellow and covered in a grey fluff. You can't eat them raw because they're outrageously tart. And when you peel and chop them, not only do they brown almost instantly, but they smell funny. After they've been poached, though, they turn a lovely rosey colour and they taste much better than you could have imagined.
I made a fairly simple tea cake batter (is that what you call it?) for this recipe and mashed half the poached quinces into the batter. Then I put the rest of the quinces into the batter, imagining that they would be nice to bite into. Next time, I'd mash all the quinces into the cake, just to see what a difference that makes. I'll have to wait till next year, I guess, because I used all my quinces in this cake.

I took this cake into work and made everyone eat it, and they all seemed to like it. So take that, Disaster!

Quince tea cake.
Adapted from Epicurious

2 cups poached quinces*
220g self-raising flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
110g unsalted butter, softened
330g sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup pure cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 160C. Grease and flour a 20cm springform pan.
Cream butter and sugar.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.
Mix flour, cinnamon and salt together.
Beat in half the flour mix.
Add the cream.
Beat in remaining flour mix and vanilla.
Strain poaching liquid from quinces and reserve.
Mash half the poached quinces and fold into the batter.
Pour half the batter into the prepared tin.
Arrange remaining poached quinces over the batter.
Pour the remaining batter over the quinces.
Bake for 1 1/4 hours, or until cake tester comes out clean.

[Optional] Make a sticky quince syrup. In a small saucepan, mix the reserved poaching liquid with 1/2 cup water, 3 tbsp caster sugar and 2 tsps lemon juice. Cook over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, until mixture starts to thicken. Pour this over the cake once it has cooled.

*Poach peeled, cored and chopped quinces with about 2 cups water, 4 tbsps sugar, cinnamon and 1 vanilla bean, until soft, about 20-30 mins. If you're new to quinces, you could use less than 2 cups.
This was about 8 medium quinces that were a bit bruised and had been eaten by bugs. So I ended up with less use-able fruit than I anticipated.


  1. I love those recipes that are aceptable and edible, but all you can think about are the ways you are irritated because they didn't come out right.

    I applaud you for tackling quinces. That grey fluff has always deterred me...

  2. Thanks Aimee. You should try quinces, they're worth the effort!