Saturday, June 23, 2012


Quinces Baked In The French Style (Coings Au Four)

Allow one for each person. Peel and hollow out the cores of six to eight quinces, being careful not to piece through the bottom of the fruit.  Sprinkle each one with lemon juice as you go.  Stand the quinces in a buttered gratin dish.

     Mix together to a cream 150 g (5 oz/2/3 cup) caster sugar, 100 g (3 ½ oz/scant ½ cup) lightly-salted or unsalted butter, and 3 generous tablespoons (1/4 cup) of whipping cream or double cream.  Stuff the quinces with this mixture – if there is some left, add halfway through the cooking.  Top each quince with a level tablespoon of sugar and bake at gas 5, 190 degrees C (375 degrees  F) until the quinces are tender.  Serve with cream and sugar.

NoteBaked quince was Sir Isaac Newton’s favourite pudding.

Quince Vodka

A long time ago I wrote that quinces made everything delicious.  ‘Yes,’ replied one reader, ‘but first catch your quinces.’  And he enclosed a recipe for quince vodka, for those who can only bag a couple.

     Allow the quinces to become really ripe and yellow.  Wash them well, rinsing away any grey fluff that might remain.  Then grate them – peel, core and all – and put them into a litre bottling jar (1 ¾ pint/scant 4 ½ cups).  Add 60 g (2 oz/ ¼ cup) caster sugar.  Fill jar with vodka (or rum, gin or brandy for that matter).  The jar need not be full, but the fruit must be covered. Close tightly.  Leave in a dark place for at least two months.  Taste, and decide whether to leave for another two months or longer – it improves with time, and much depends on the quality of the quinces in the first place which can vary from year to year.  Add extra sugar if you prefer a liqueur sweetness; train off the liquor into a clean bottle.

From Jane Grigson's Fruit Book.

What a beautiful piece of fruit of such rare quality, like William Blake's extrarordinary 1795 rendering (color print with pen, ink and watercolor) of Isaac Newton as "divine geometer."   Yesterday we drove north from sweltering, parching heat into slightly less sweltering, parching heat.  Around dusk, a cooling storm erupted, scaring the daylights out of one of our dogs and reanimating the other, who is recovering from a malady and seemed actually to welcome the lightning, thunder and excitement.  The quince vodka pictured above, borrowed from the Baroque In Hackney blogger, who in turn borrowed it from The Quince Tree, looks exactly right for this climate, mood, breeze and moon.

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