As I walked along the Quay in late September, I loved the tangle of the boats’ masts, which are now being put away for the winter.
The quince were ripening on the tree, turning from a pale green to a citrus yellow. We picked them before the winds came.
I left the quinces to ripen on the kitchen bench and then started to experiment with different ways of using them. Buttery, almondy friands with a slice of poached quince, cooked in mini-muffin tins make a perfect mouthful to have with a cup of tea, at the end of a meal or for the last plateful of canapes at a drinks party.
I wanted to cook the quinces slowly so that they turned as dark a pink as possible. The plan was to poach them in a sugar syrup in the oven at 75 C for seven hours but I went out and came back to a dark cottage as the electricity had tripped so I have no idea how long they were actually cooked for. I cooked two large quinces but only used half of one for this recipe.
INGREDIENTS ( makes 48 mini friand)
Juice of a lemon
250g granulated sugar
2 large quinces, peeled and halved
180g unsalted butter
200g icing sugar
60g plain flour
120g ground almonds
5 large egg whites
Drop almond essence
Zest of an orange
Icing sugar for dusting
1.Heat the oven to 100°C. Make a sugar syrup by dissolving the sugar in the water in a pan with the lemon juice.
2. Add the quince as you peel and halve them, so they don’t discolour. Bring to a simmer and then transfer to an oven proof dish and cover with foil . Reduce the heat to 75C and cook for 7 hours until the quinces are soft and a dark pink colour. Take out and leave to cool. Slice off some small pieces to put on friands.
3. Heat the oven to 200c/gas mark 6. Melt the butter and use a tiny bit to grease some mini muffin tins.
4. Sift the icing sugar and flour into a bowl and mix in the ground almonds. Lightly beat the egg whites and fold them into the dry ingredients. Add the cooled, melted butter, orange zest and almond essence and mix until everything is combined.
5. Fill each mini muffin tin three-quarters full and put a slice of quince on top of each. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown and springing back to the touch, checking on the edges as these darken quicker than the top of the friands
6. Leave the tins for 5 minutes and then gently unmould them onto a wire tray and leave to cool. Dust the friands with icing sugar.