Having found quinces at the market last week I decided to organize dinner around the fruit. As planned, I prepared lamb and quince tagine and an apple and quince dessert, though rather than the crumble I initially had in mind I made pie, or rather a French version of pie: tarte. I improvised both dishes from a variety of recipes. The tagine looked beautiful and tasted very good, but it could still be improved and I would like to refine the recipe before posting it here. The tarte, on the other hand, was entirely delicious.
Juice from 1 lemon
3 medium quinces
4 Tbsp mild-tasting liquid honey
3/4 cup (150 g) brown sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
3 medium apples
1 cup (100 g) ground almonds (or almond flour)
If using frozen puff pastry, remove from freezer and set out to thaw.
Prepare a medium saucepan with 4 cups (1 liter) cold water and juice from 1/2 lemon. Peel, core, and cut quinces in slim slices. As you cut the quince, put the slices in the lemon water (quince oxidizes very quickly – placing it in water prevents it from turning black).
Bring the lemon water with quince slices to a light boil and simmer gently for about 10 minutes, until the fruit just starts getting soft (they should still be easy to handle; they will continue cooking later.) With a skimmer, remove quince slices and set aside.
Add the honey, 1/2 cup (100 g) of the sugar, and the vanilla bean to the quince poaching water, increase heat and let the syrup boil and reduce for 45 to 50 minutes.
In the meantime, preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
Thinly slice apples to the same size as the quince slices. (As you set the apple slices aside, sprinkle them with a little lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown.)
In a small bowl, mix the ground almonds with the last 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar.
Prepare baking sheet (or pie pan) lined with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper and roll out pie crust. Sprinkle almond/sugar mixture evenly on crust, then place apple and quince slices, alternatingly. Using a spoon or pastry brush, coat the fruit with some of the thickened syrup.
Bake in oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until fruit is starting to color, taking care that the crust does not become too dark.
Before the tarte cools, glaze the fruit with more syrup. (There should be some left over, it will continue to thicken and can be used on toast like quince jelly).
* I have never made puff pastry. It is terribly time-intensive and I have often heard that it is one of the rare things that are not necessarily better home made, unless by an experienced pastry chef. Dufour frozen puff pastry is a very good brand available here in New York.