Autumn: so many trees sporting gorgeous golden shades, and leaves of red, orange and yellow. And delicious assortments of fruits hanging from the trees. The beauty of walking is I find them everywhere: apples, pears, nuts, persimmon and pomegranates. I can pick them and enjoy them immediately. But one thing I can’t do that with is quince. They’re delicious to be sure, but not when raw. They are tart and too crunchy to be eaten without cooking. In Spain of course they make membrillo, eating sticky slabs with a slice of sheeps cheese. In Greece they make a very sweet spoon sweet – γλυκά (ghlyka) – cutting them finely and cooking them in syrup. This is then served as a dessert.
But what would could I do with a load of quinces I was given? And then it came to me…crumble! When I was a child apple and blackberry crumble was the best dessert in the world (and is still right up there now i’m a big child), served with hot custard! We would always use cooking apples with lots of brown sugar. However I think that any apple can work, as the sweetness means you need less sugar and complements the tartness of the quinces very well. Something deliciously traditional in Britain, and perfect for autumn and winter. Here in Greece quince is cooked with vanilla, and it is definitely a perfect combination, but seeing as I couldn’t get my hands on any, I decided to try something different. The cooked quinces blend perfectly with caramelised apple, cinnamon and cloves to give a warming dessert, served with fresh Greek yoghurt, flavoured with a little sweetness.
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
250g white sugar for caramel
For the Crumble mix
300g plain flour
50g oats or granola
50g brown sugar
Chop 4 of the quinces into cubes, and grate 1, leaving the skin on. Cover the quince with water and then add another splash – you want some liquid still remaining when the quinces are cooked. Add the sugar and cloves and cook for 45 minutes until the quinces are soft. Remove the c loves once they are cooked.
While the quince is cooking, make the crumble mixture:
Cut the butter into cubes and using your hands, mix with the flour and sugar until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the oats and squeeze together until you have a rough crumble mixture.
Chop the apples into large pieces (you can leave the skin on if you prefer) and leave under water with a squeeze of lemon juice (this will stop them discolouring if they are cooking apples).
Make the caramel: pour the sugar into a thick bottomed pan and heat on a low/medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Do not stir it. Once the caramel has formed, pour half into the crumble mixture and mix immediately. This will give a nice sweet crunchiness. Drain the apples and mix them into the other half of the caramel. Add the quinces and their liquid and stir over a low heat so that the caramel mixes with the quince liquid. Pour into a baking dish, cover with the crumble mixture and bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes at 160ºC.
Serve hot with yoghurt (if you want you can mix it with honey, orange zest and a splash of orange juice), custard or ice cream 🙂