The quince is a beautiful fruit. The astringent cousin of apples and pears, it requires cooking to make it palatable. Cooking also magically turns the apple-like white flesh, to a ruby red/pink color. Ta-da! Quince are in season right now and it is a perfect time to try this beautifully perfumed fruit (it is one of my favorite smells!). The most common kitchen application is to make a jam or paste, which is delicious alongside a slice of salty cheese, like Manchego. But quince also find their way into baked goods like this biscuit pie.
This recipe takes a little time (quinces are slow to cook) but is well worth your efforts. The quince are poached with maple syrup and vanilla bean and then topped with a tender biscuit dough. I liked eating this for breakfast or with tea in the afternoon. It is best made in the morning of the day you plan on eating it, but keeps for a day or two in the fridge.
BONUS! This recipe leave you with a couple of cups of poaching liquid that is too flavorful and delicious to throw away. Tomorrow I will have a very wonderful use for that juice. Stay tuned!
Quince Biscuit Pie (adapted slightly from Martha Stewart Living, November 2010)
FOR THE FILLING
- 5 cups water
- 1 cup pure maple syrup
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 5 quinces, peeled, cored, and quartered
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, pod reserved
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
FOR THE TOPPING
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup fine yellow cornmeal
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons sliced almonds
FOR THE MAPLE CREAM
- 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- Garnish: confectioners’ sugar
Make the filling: Bring water, maple syrup, granulated sugar, quinces, and vanilla seeds and pod to a simmer in a large pot over medium heat. Cover with parchment, and cook until quinces are soft and rosy pink, about 2 hours. Discard vanilla pod. Don’t panic if your quince isn’t turning rosy and pink, it happens late in the process, and occasionally doesn’t happen much at all.
Preheat oven to 375° F. Make the topping: Sift together flour, cornmeal, granulated sugar, baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt, and then sift again. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or rub in with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal with some large pieces remaining. Make a well in the center. Pour in cream; stir until combined.
Transfer quinces to a medium bowl using a slotted spoon. Add 1 cup poaching liquid (reserve the remaining poaching liquid, it is delicious) and the cornstarch, and toss to combine. Pour quinces with juices into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Arrange large spoonfuls of topping mixture around outer edge of pie, leaving a space in the center. Sprinkle almonds on top, and bake until liquid is bubbling and topping is golden, about 50 minutes. Let cool completely. Seriously, let it cool. Unlike many things, this doesn’t taste better warm.
Make the maple cream: Whisk cream with a mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Fold in maple syrup. Garnish pie with confectioners’ sugar. Serve with maple cream.