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Spiced Quince Crumbles

Quince Crumble

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.

Spiced Poached Quince

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…

Quince Crumble

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!

Quince Crumble

Spiced Quince Crumbles:

Serves 4

For the poached quinces:
2 quinces, peeled, cored and quartered
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods, slightly crushed
5 cloves
1/4 cup (50gr) sugar
1 teaspoon allspice berries
1/2 lemon

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.

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Colloquial Cook October 12, 2009 um 6:11 pm

Left over crumble… Hmmm… No, sorry, I don't *think* so. 😀 Hélène!! C'est magnifique!! Tu me donnes envie d'aller chercher des coings demain matin au marché!!

alice October 12, 2009 um 6:12 pm

I've never had a quince before but I think I am going to look for them now and make your crisp. Thank you Helen!

Lauren October 12, 2009 um 6:26 pm

I've never had quince, but this looks amazing! I might have to look into getting some =D.

iva yaneva October 12, 2009 um 6:33 pm

oh, I love crumble! I saw a photo of it on a blog and I knew it would taste heavenly 🙂 I was wondering if I could use different flour and brown sugar, so thanks for the recipe 🙂
by the way, it goes perfectly with vanilla ice cream right after you've taken it out of the oven 🙂

have a wonderful day!

maybelle's mom October 12, 2009 um 6:48 pm

a neighbor just passed on some quinces and I am so excited to use them. I have never done so. It is useful to read some spices that work with quince.

Jessica October 12, 2009 um 6:52 pm

Looks incredible! I can't wait to try. I love quinoa.

El October 12, 2009 um 6:55 pm

Beautiful once again. It looks scrumptious.

Bliss Doubt October 12, 2009 um 7:27 pm

Yum. I'd just eat the stewed ones you have pictured, with the lovely star anise on top.

Some say that Eve's apple in the Garden of Eden was more likely actually a quince.

Romy October 12, 2009 um 7:36 pm

Lovely, Helen, and very fall-like indeed. Where did you get those little skillets?? They are adorable!

Jen October 12, 2009 um 7:41 pm

Fantastic! I just received some quinces and have just been staring at it in bewilderment. i was hoping it'd magically turn into something tasty on its own but I see I will have to have a hand in all this!

Dominique October 12, 2009 um 7:43 pm

Encore une superbe recette! merci…

Nina Timm October 12, 2009 um 8:03 pm

I love the pictures with the leaves and acorns, just awesome!!!! Quince is also a fruit that I grew up with. My mother used to always pair it with some sort of game….
The crumbles are mouthwatering!!!

Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul October 12, 2009 um 8:04 pm

Beautiful Helen! You've really captured the essence of fall with these quince crumbles.

A Bowl Of Mush October 12, 2009 um 8:09 pm

looks absolutely gorgeous, i just love quince.
This looks very warming and perfect for a cold autumn evening.

Barbara October 12, 2009 um 8:18 pm

One reason I have to look forward to Autumn is I love quince. I saw them in the shops here recently marked produce of Australia. When I queried the shop assistant as to how they were available in Spring I discovered they had been stored in cold storage over winter. I only buy in season so I'll wait until autumn for fresh ones.

I like how you have served them Helene. I often use them in Tarte Tartine.

Frenchie October 12, 2009 um 8:32 pm

Quince reminds me of my grandmother, I have never cooked with it myself but your beautiful crumbles inspire me to give it a try.

Julia @ Mélanger October 12, 2009 um 9:17 pm

Helen, I feel your comment about going to South Carolina and it not feeling like fall. I felt the same way here in Brisbane when in September (still technically winter) and it was over 30C/90F. Plays havoc with your baking schedule!!! I was going to comment similarly to Barbara above. In some stores, there is considerable produce that has been stored and out all times of years. Fortunately I have a lovely little independent in Brisbane that I visit which assures freshness. I've never baked with quinces, but I will rest assured and take your advice onboard and make sure I get my hands on some my next autumn.

Julia @ Mélanger October 12, 2009 um 9:19 pm

P.S. Had to also mention, that I love the quick wedding shots. (Thanks for sharing!) I am waiting for mine from the big day. Those lovely images just got me super excited again!!

Rosa's Yummy Yums October 12, 2009 um 9:23 pm

Oh, that is such a beautiful way of preparing quinces! I love that perfect combination!



La Cuisine d'Helene October 12, 2009 um 9:29 pm

Never had Quince before. So nice to have a GF recipe. Beautiful shots!

Hivron October 12, 2009 um 9:34 pm

You're making me want to come to South Carolina right now! Beautiful pictures.

tom tall clover farm October 12, 2009 um 10:53 pm

I love quince and just posted some pics of this handsome fruit on my blog (harvest time indeed). While I have most reserved for jam, I think I'll definitely have to hold out a few more for this fine crumble recipe– thank you.

Julie @ Willow Bird Baking October 12, 2009 um 11:15 pm

What a lovely post — listening to a beautiful song, imagining the smell of your beautiful crumbles, and thinking about beautiful weddings! Fun!

Sara [sara's test kitchen] October 12, 2009 um 11:29 pm

Oh, I've never tried a quince before, I'll have to see if they have them at the market around here. They look almost too beautiful to cover up with crumble… almost. The possibilities seem endless!

Rachel Boller October 13, 2009 um 12:10 am

I have never baked with quince before, and you have inspiried me. The shot with the different color eggs, hazelnuts and spinces is just beautiful, Helen.
And, I know you didn't make them, but you are killing me with those adorable ramekin-sized cast iron skillets.

anna October 13, 2009 um 12:17 am

Haha, I always confuse the people at check out with my quinces, too! I want to try to buy them from local farmers this year but the handful at the market last weekend were small and greenish so hopefully they will get better (and more plentiful) in the next couple of weeks.

These crumbles look fantastic, too. The smell of quince poaching is indeed a magical thing.

Jo October 13, 2009 um 12:27 am

I have to find out how a quince taste like but judging from the outcome, they have to be absolutely delicious. I love the spiced poached flavour and everything seems to come together. The presentation and pictures are absolutely gorgeous. May I ask where you bought the pans you had baked them in – they are very unique.

Anh October 13, 2009 um 1:03 am

HElen, the photos are so beautiful, especially the one with the quince!!

Amy J in SC October 13, 2009 um 2:41 am

You're so right Helen, I've never seen a quince here in SC. I'll be on the lookout now though – maybe at Whole Foods? Those crumbles are beautiful. And the way you arranged the quince slices to look like a flower… just perfection. It would take me all day and then I would feel bad about eating it (at least for a little while).

Off to hunt for quince. :-]

shaz October 13, 2009 um 5:14 am

I love quince but never realised I could use the skin and seeds as well! Thanks for the info. Love the pics especially the quince "rose" in the pan – so beautiful.

Clarisse-16ANS October 13, 2009 um 5:41 am

beautiful pictures !

♥peachkins♥ October 13, 2009 um 5:59 am

I'm very very curious about quince..

Helene October 13, 2009 um 6:53 am

Romy and Jo: these are 2-inch wide cast iron skilet from Lodge. I got them at a restaurant supply store in town. They were on sale for $3 a piece.

zaida October 13, 2009 um 7:15 am

beautiful photos! so atumnish.
wish you a great week

Botacook October 13, 2009 um 8:48 am

C'est tellement joli ces tranches de coing disposées en rose! J'aime cette ambiance d'automne!!

Manggy October 13, 2009 um 12:03 pm

Hah, it's perpetually summer here, and I only emulate the four (temperate) seasons through my cooking and baking indeed- even if the timing is all outta whack sometimes 🙂 If quince bakes up anything like apple, I'm game for it, especially when it looks this good 🙂

Lindsey@pickyeatings October 13, 2009 um 12:48 pm

Those mini cast iron skillets are adorable!

I don't think I would know a quince if it hit me in the face, how sad is that?

Fall is very much here to stay in New England.

Barbara October 13, 2009 um 2:55 pm

I'm fascinated. Never have cooked quince and really know very little about them. Your descriptions and photos (also love the pine cone) make me want to find out a lot more. You certainly make use of every part of the fruit! Crumbles are such fun to make. Where ever did you get those individual skillets?

Unknown October 13, 2009 um 3:13 pm

Beautiful work! I think I'll pick up some hazelnuts this weekend!

farida October 13, 2009 um 6:19 pm

I love quince. I'd say it is my second favorite fruit after pomegranate. And I love it raw as much as cooked. Great recipe!

Jen Yu October 13, 2009 um 6:36 pm

Those little pans are ADORABLE! I've never had fresh quince, only had it as membrillo in Argentina (and it was soooo good). Now I want to come over and try those beautiful crumbles right now *sob*. Beautiful as ever. Such a treat for the eyes (since I can't put them in my tummy!)

karoLina October 13, 2009 um 6:40 pm

I love your blog but for the first time dare to leave a commnet.

I have never eaten a quince before and this crumble looks so yummy and seems to be a perfect antidote to the weather (they say it is going to snow tomorrow).

Anna October 13, 2009 um 7:05 pm

I know just what you mean, usually I'm the lady with the weird fruit holding up the line 😀
I actually got lucky a few days ago and I found a bunch of quinces on sale at a store by me so I bought as much as I could and I just made several jars of quince jam. If you send me your address I'll be happy to send you a jar 😀

Thao Phan October 13, 2009 um 8:59 pm

Oh those just looks so yummy!!!!!

Abby October 13, 2009 um 11:56 pm

Gorgeous photos!

Renee October 14, 2009 um 1:56 am

I've never had quince before, but I'm going to have to scout some down now for sure!

Helene October 14, 2009 um 5:51 am

iva yaneva: you can use all purpose flour or other combinations of gluten free flours. They all taste a bit different so you might want to experiment a bit.

Anonymous October 14, 2009 um 5:52 am

Absolutely gorgeous! Your photography is just even more perfect each day!


Dana October 14, 2009 um 5:53 am

I think of myself as having a decent palate and being a pretty good baker, but I have never had quince! As usual, you make it all look beautiful and delicious.

S. October 14, 2009 um 6:03 am

I always dread the end of summer, but I think you've just given me an excuse to look forward to Fall…
They look delicious, and I will definitely be making some as soon as I can get my hands on some quince.
Gorgeous photos as always–your blog is such a delight 🙂

Alexandra October 14, 2009 um 6:13 am

I wish I could send you some of my Pacific Northwest autumn…rainy, blustery, crisp, fall days! I too have been in the spirit of the crumble. I've always wondered if the extra crumble could be saved for later, thank you!

I love your photo of the pinecone cozily nestled in it's nest of leaves!

Happy day!

George@CulinaryTravels October 14, 2009 um 6:30 pm

That is beautiful. When I finally get some quinces I'll be making this 🙂

Anita October 14, 2009 um 10:54 pm

Gorgeous! It certainly does look like Fall – those are very pretty photos!

Nirvana October 15, 2009 um 11:40 am

I've never tried quince before but these pics look amazing!!!

Patricia Scarpin October 15, 2009 um 6:24 pm

I spent a lovely time visiting my friend Valentina in London, and came back in a fall vibe, even though it's spring here now.
These are amazing, Helen!
I love the golden topping.

Mel @ October 15, 2009 um 8:38 pm

This looks divine… can only imagine how incredible it tastes.

Anonymous October 16, 2009 um 12:06 am

It's great that you develop some lovely gluten free recipes for your site.

ps: I love those mini cast iron skillets!

Gaelle October 16, 2009 um 1:30 am

I am a big quince lover as well. I can't wait for Fall to come so that I can make apple sauce with quince. I'll try your crumble and I am sure we'll all love it! Thank you!

Katie October 16, 2009 um 1:58 am

Your photos are just so arty, I love how they look so rustic.

Allie Smith October 16, 2009 um 3:05 am

Hi! Love this blog because I love two things: baking and photography. I was wondering what kind of camera/film you use to photograph these lovely scenes. Some of your photos look analog, some digital, so I can't tell. Maybe it's just post-processing, or maybe you just have a really nice camera. Either way your photography is beautiful, and your desserts? Divine.

Katie October 16, 2009 um 6:27 am

They look wonderful! The spiced quinces sound amazing, perfect for the season. The little dishes you baked them in are adorable.

Rachael Hutchings October 16, 2009 um 4:09 pm

I love hearing how you use all the different bits of the quince. Too often we waste without thinking!! These look delicious!

Dandy October 16, 2009 um 6:04 pm

I am one of those who have seen them but had no idea what to do with them. Gorgeous!

mycookinghut October 16, 2009 um 8:30 pm

Looks really good!! I love all your shots!

Pattern Patisserie October 17, 2009 um 4:21 pm

Yum this look really good, I have cooked with quince once and really liked it…I shall look out for it at the market and thanks so much for the interesting fact about the pectin in the seeds…this kind of information really intrigues me, I shall save my seeds to use for pate de fruit as you suggest…THANKS!!!

Gosiak October 17, 2009 um 8:48 pm

My mother uses quince to make what we call here in Poland "nalewka" (kind of alcoholic tincture) but i think i will steal some fruit and make your crumbles. Thank you for great recipes and beautiful pictures 🙂

shanna October 19, 2009 um 3:53 am

Hi, Helen. I've been watching your blog for some time and feeling just totally in awe of your photography. So this weekend, I met Caitlin of Engineer Baker and she told me you're doing her wedding, and I thought that was the nicest thing I'd ever heard. Literally almost cried. You are lovely.

brii October 21, 2009 um 12:58 pm

I even tried to plant a quince tree, but it didn't like to warm climate 🙁
also here it is very difficult to find (Lake Garda -Italy), but when I find them I also do quince jelly.
with the peel I do a liquor..mmmm
very dry, very good.


Cannelle Et Vanille October 21, 2009 um 1:13 pm

I'm still waiting for our quince to arrive… getting anxious right about now. these are the perfect fall dessert, no doubt!

Rabbittrick October 30, 2009 um 7:04 am

What a warm set of images!

Absolutely my favourite. It's amazing that without having to traipse down to the bookstore for a magazine, I can wake up in the morning to read something so beautiful like this.

Thank you!

dewolfert November 16, 2009 um 7:47 pm

left over crumble? no chance 😀 made it a few mins ago and love this recipe.
found it over the nice quince star anise cinnamon picture in a thumblr blog

Anonymous December 1, 2009 um 5:13 pm

I love this recipe, but have a question. When I made the quince, it was not sweet at all. I only made one, so cut out some sugar, but is the fruit supposed to be sweet pre-crumble?

Thanks for all of your wonderful posts and inspiring photos 🙂

Helene December 1, 2009 um 6:19 pm

jillp: sweetness among quince varies a lot and we tend to add less sugar than most people by taste. If you find that the 1/4 cup of sugar is not enough in the poaching liquid, you can definitely double it up.

Mark November 21, 2010 um 7:37 pm

It's late spring here in New Zealand and our orchard is full of developing fruit. The quince tree is prolific and this season will be no exception.

I hate to confess but in previous years most of the quince crop has rotted on the ground. That quince crumble sounds delicious and a great way to use some of the vast ouput of the t.ree

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