Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Quinces For Princes

Ok, I've been tardy with posting a recipe for the quince pies I made for Christmas, but here it is, at last! It's a fairly easy recipe, and everything can be thrown together quickly once you've poached the quinces. If quinces can't be found, or you just can't be bothered with them, then I don't see why you can't substitute them for some other fruits.

1 kg quinces (about 3 or 4)
4 small apples (I used Braeburns, but use whichever ones you like)
1 kg puff pastry
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp nutmeg
2 heaped tbs sugar/honey
1 egg, beaten
200 gms apricot glaze (optional)

Makes about 24 individual pies.
- Cut quinces up into quarters and remove the seeds.

- There are two different ways to soften the quinces - the way is to poach them in a large amount of water (enough to just cover the tops of the fruits), with spices added for taste. I ended up with about 2 pints of lovely pink fruit-flavoured liquid at the end, and simply added some gelatin to it to make quince jelly.
The other method is similar, except you use less water - put the quinces and spices into a large pot or saucepan, then add an inch of water to it.
Whichever method you choose, you'll need to simmer it for at least two hours. Stir them occasionally to prevent them sticking to the bottom and burning.

- After one hour, quarter the apples and add them to the pot, and simmer for another hour.

- Test the fruits after two hours, they should be soft enough to mash with a fork. If not, cook them for a little longer.

- If you're poaching the fruits, remove them from the liquid and leave to cool and drain for at least 15 minutes. If you're using the second method, the liquid should have evaporated and been absorbed by the fruits by now.

- Mash the fruits up roughly, you want some texture when you bite into the pies. I found it easiest to just use a potato masher.

- Cut and place puff pastry into muffin trays (be sure to leave enough pastry for the tops). Spoon the fruit mixture in, then cut more puff pastry circles for the tops. Brush the tops with a beaten egg.

Bake in a preheated oven for the time and temperature specified on your puff pastry packaging - I think I left them in for about 20 mins at about 200 degrees Celsius.

- Leave them to cool on a rack once they're done.

- This step is entirely optional, I did it because I always overindulge my sweet tooth. Put some apricot glaze in a saucepan and boil it, then, with a brush, brush it over the tops of the pies for a shiny finish.

That's about it, and like I said, really easy to assemble once the fruits are cooked. If you're pressed for time, you can always cook the quinces a couple of days before, then spoon them into the pastry cases and bake them on the day itself. The pies can be kept for up to a week if stored properly, and they're delicious reheated in the microwave, with a dollop of vanilla bean ice-cream over it.

As I haven't had too much experience with writing up my own recipes, please do let me know if you spot any mistakes in this one. And if you do use it, I'd love to hear how you got on with it!