If you were to come visit South Carolina right now, you'd be hard pressed to find any sign that it is indeed Fall. For us, an extra packed schedule and an ever growing temptation for candy corn let us know tis the season. The leaves are still green, the sun is still out and the heat and humidity are still very much present. So what is a gal to do when she is season deprived? Get in the kitchen and bake something Fall-ish like these Spiced Quince Crumbles while listening to comforting favorites.
Nothing screams Fall louder to me than the smell of quince simmering on the stove with a handful of my favorite spices. My mom used to make quince jelly every year and the process usually took a couple of days between the peeling, slicing, slow cooking, straining and canning. Every year, I looked forward to these days like a famished wolf. There would be jelly sweet as honey for our morning toasts and quince compote left over from the straining for our after school tartine.
Quinces are no locally grown here so they tend to be pricey and since we are watching our budget, they are more of an occasional luxury, and I treat them as such. Nothing gets wasted not even the seeds. Once peeled I use the skin to flavor tagines and oriental stews. The seeds are very high in pectin so I wrap them in cheesecloth and use them for pate de fruits or other jams. The soft flesh is most often stewed until tender and parked in the refrigerator for tarts or crumbles just like this one.
I love that I can find them around here as soon as October rolls around even though no one at the store really knows what they are and how to prepare them. If you live in my town and they was a lady holding up the cashier's line for a code check, might have been me and my two quinces!
There are no good words to explain quinces properly. They are a bit of this and a bit of that but also neither this nor that. Whatever you do with them, just do not eat them raw. You can always check Google and Wikipedia or trust me that they are too good not to bake with.
We've had a pretty packed weekend of photographing weddings and my brain is getting fried by the minute planning a job this week, working with this amazing photographer (I style, he shoots). So when we plopped on the couch last night and put our feet up with a couple of these crumbles, all seemed right and quiet with the world. At least during those ten minutes of eating them...
These gluten free crumbles start with softly poached quinces in plenty of spices reminiscent of Fall like cinnamon, star anise, cardamom, cloves. Here I used a mix of flours for the topping with some chopped hazelnuts, but you could substitute the same amount in all purpose flour if you wish.
Fall is here. At least through cooking and baking!
Spiced Quince Crumbles:
For the poached quinces:
2 quinces, peeled, cored and quartered
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods, slightly crushed
1/4 cup (50gr) sugar
1 teaspoon allspice berries
For the crumble:
1/4 cup (40gr) brown rice flour
1/4 cup (40gr) sorghum flour
1/4 cup (30gr) tapioca flour
OR 3/4 cup (95gr) all purpose flour instead if not baking gluten free
3 tablespoons (15gr)finely chopped hazelnuts
1/4 cup (55gr) packed light brown sugar
1 egg yolk
2 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
Prepare the quinces:
Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover the quinces. Bring the content of the pot to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, place a lid halfway over the pot and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the quinces are soft when you poke a knife through them. Remove the fruit from the liquid with a slotted spoon and let cool to room temperature. Thinly slice the quince and reserve.
Butter the inside of four 1 cup capacity ramekins or small dishes and set them on a baking tray. Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the center.
Prepare the crumble:
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix with your fingertips or a fork until the mixture resembles large beads.
Divide the quince slices evenly among your prepared dishes and sprinkle the crumble as evenly on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
You might have leftover crumble mixture, you can either bake it separately and crumble it up over ice cream later or freeze it for up to three months for a quick crumble later.