Quince is hard to find most of the year, so in late autumn, when the fragrant fruit appears at our farmers’ markets, we snap them up as often as we can. For this simple yet elegant cake, quince wedges are first poached in a spiced syrup, then they’re diced and mixed into a butter-rich cake batter. The poaching syrup becomes a sweet sauce that is drizzled over the top of the cake slices after baking.
Quince Tea Cake
- 3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick, lightly crushed
- Grated zest of 1 orange
- 1 Tbs. fresh orange juice
- 2 quinces, peeled, cored and each cut into 8 wedges
- 3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
- 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz./235 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
1. In a saucepan, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon stick, orange zest, orange juice and 2 1/2 cups (20 fl. oz./625 ml) water. Place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Add the quinces and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 45 to 60 minutes. Let the quinces cool in the syrup, then transfer to a cutting board and cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) dice. Strain the syrup and set aside.
2. Preheat an oven to 325°F (165°C). Butter and flour a 9-inch (23-cm) round cake pan. Tap out the excess flour.
3. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
4. Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture and diced quince. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
5. Bake until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan and let cool completely on the rack, about 1 hour. Cut the cake into slices, drizzle with the reserved syrup and serve. Serves 8.
Recipe adapted from Williams Sonoma Luscious Fruit Desserts