Spiced quince & frangipane tart...

Last week Monsieur's mum gave me two big quinces from her garden. Now, quinces are not the kind of fruit you will simply find at a supermarket (at least not in the UK as far as I'm aware) and there's a bit of a rarity factor to them which I like. They're also pesky and temperamental because you can't really tell whether they're good or not until you cut them open. And so it turned out that one of them was unfortunately already rotten on the inside whilst looking very pretty and innocent on the outside. 

I had previously made quince cheese as well as poached quinces, so I wanted to try something a little different and fitting for a cold and frosty weekend. Yes, Winter has arrived, we've seen the first snow (well, not me personally as I got up too late and it clearly only lasted a moment before melting away on the warm London streets) and it's time to cosy up at home with hot drinks and comforting treats. Frangipane tarts seem to always fit the bill for this time of the year, so I decided to combine it with the quince. With a bit of a seasonal twist. You know, cinnamon and mulled wine. Oh, and Amaretto to fit in with the frangipane filling. 

I spent a little time poaching the quince on Saturday evening which filled our home with a wonderful and wintery scent. On Sunday morning, whilst it was still quiet, I baked. Monsieur was woken by the smell of freshly baked cake and promptly had a piece for breakfast. With a 'thumbs-up' from him (remember, he's my harshest critic apart from myself), I decided that it was safe to post this little recipe. I hope you like it as much as he did. 

Ingredients:

For the pastry:

  • 125g plain flour
  • 55g butter
  • 2-3 tbsp cold water
  • pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 100g ground almonds
  • 35g plain flour
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 80g butter at room temperature
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the quince topping:

  • 1 large quince, 350 - 400g
  • 100ml Amaretto
  • 150ml mulled wine
  • 250ml water
  • 4tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise

Extra:

  • Icing sugar for dusting

Here's how it's done:

For the quince: You should ideally do this the day before baking so that the poaching syrup can soak in.

  • Peel and core the quinces being very careful with the knife as they can be pretty tough
  • Cut into 8th and rub with the lemon half to prevent from browning
  • In a medium saucepan, mix the Amaretto, mulled wine (you can make your own or buy some, I find the most authentic one to be from Lidl), sugar and spices and bring to a boil
  • Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved
  • Add the quince pieces, turn the heat down and either cover with a piece of parchment paper with a hole cut into the middle or a lid which isn't completely shut - this is to ensure that the syrup will reduce a little without completely evaporating
  • Leave to simmer for 30-45 minutes depending on how tough your quince is
  • Once done, remove the quince pieces from the pan into a bowl
  • Bring the syrup back to a boil to reduce by half and until it thickens
  • Pour the syrup over the quinces and leave to cool
  • Cut the pieces length-wise into halves and return to the syrup to soak over night

To make the shortcrust:

  • Put the flour and salt into a large bowl
  • Cut the butter into cubes and add to the flour
  • Now work the butter into the flour with your fingers, working quickly so that the butter doesn't become warm and greasy
  • Add the water spoon by spoon so that the dough just about sticks together
  • Form into a ball, wrap in cling film and put into the fridge for 30 minutes
  • Preheat your oven to 200C
  • Grease and flour a rectangular, loose-bottomed tart form
  • Take your dough out of the fridge and roll it out on a floured surface
  • Place the dough into the form and press down
  • Leave the edges slightly overhanging
  • Cover the dough with baking paper and fill with baking beans or dried beans
  • Put into the oven and bake blind for 15 minutes
  • After that time remove the baking beans and paper and return the crust to the oven for a further 5-10 minutes (this will depend on your oven) until dry
  • Take the crust out of the oven and leave to cool

To make the frangipane:

  • Mix the flour, ground almonds and cinnamon
  • In a mixer combine the butter and sugar and whisk until light and fluffy
  • Add the ground almond mix
  • Now add the beaten eggs
  • Pour the mix onto the cooled crust
  • Arrange the quince slices on top (fairly close together) and press lightly into the filling
  • Put the tart into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes (again, depending on your oven) until the frangipane is golden-brown
  • Take the tart out of the oven and leave to cool
  • Transfer onto a plate or board and sprinkle with some icing sugar for the finishing touch

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