They dined on mince and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand on the edge of the sand
They danced by the light of the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
Oh the wonders of the quince fruit!I hope you enjoy this recipe and dance by the light of our beautiful full moon, exacting as I finish up this posting. I was fortunate to stumble upon some quince a couple of weeks back at Mix Garden. They have been ripening on my kitchen counter and this past weekend I incorporated them into one of my most successful and well received plated desserts of all time! This recipe combines the sweet and tender poached quince with a marvelous almond cake and a buttery brown sugar glaze. These are all combined and cooked “tarte tatin” style to create a symphony of flavors…a virtual party in your mouth!
I found the quince at Mix Garden. This is not your typical farm stand, down a scenic agricultural road. Mix is located in Healdsburg in a store front. Previously, this building was home to a local Healdsburg landscaping business. Purchased and reinvented fours years ago by Mick Kopetsky, Mix Garden is a creative cross-cultivation of farming ingenuity. The company has three distinct directions if you will, these include; landscaping/design, produce/plant starts and materials (read soil, compost, mulch, sand, and gravel).
On my first visit I entered a beautifully staged room, slightly barren, kind of modern…with gorgeous heaps of multicolored pumpkins and squash adorning the concrete floor. It is an unusual set up for a “farm store” but it really works. They have just recently opened themselves up as a direct retail market, up until now most of their produce clientele base has been local restaurants. A few restaurants which they supply fresh lettuces and vegetables to are Scopa and Campo Fina in Healdsburg and Diavola Pizzeria in Geyserville. Vegetable starts which are also available at the store, are a growing division of their business. On site are a couple of beautifully crafted hand-made green houses where all the seedling magic takes place. Mix farms a little over seven acres total, between three locations in Healdsburg and Forestville.
They have an orchard of quince trees at one of the Healdsburg gardens. Three varieties are currently available; Van Deman, Orange and Smyrna. All the fruit look very similar, although the Van Deman is a bit spicier, larger and has more of an elongated shape. Quince is a fruit, in the same family as apples and pears, but it is a very different animal. Quince cannot be eaten raw. It can be roasted, baked or stewed. I like to “poach” it in a simple syrup, it can then be added to a dish or eaten alone.
The recipe I would like to share with you on this magical and mysterious full moon is
Quince Almond Upside Down Cake
-= Ingredients =-
2 each quince
Poaching the Quince
2 cups Sugar
4 cups Water
Brown Sugar Glaze
1/2 cup unsalted butter; cut into cubes
1/2 cup brown sugar; firmly packed
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 oz Almond Paste
6 ounces unsalted butter
1 each vanilla bean; scraped
4 each egg; large
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 – 4 oz. aluminum baking tins or coffee cups
-= Instructions =-
Poaching the Quince
Bring the sugar and water to a boil. Peel and cut quince in four sections away from the center seeds. Place the raw quince in the simmering simple syrup. Poach until a knife easily slides into the quince. About 30 – 45 minutes. Remove from the poaching liquid and allow to cool.
Brown Sugar Glaze
In a medium bowl place flour, baking powder and kosher salt, set aside. Mix sugar and almond paste in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until combined, mixture will be on the dry side and almond paste should be pea sized. Add butter and the seeds scraped from the vanilla bean pod. Add eggs one at a time combine thoroughly after each. Fold in dry ingredients by hand. Mix until combined.
To assemble for baking:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare 4 oz aluminum tins by spraying with pan spray and placing on a baking sheet. Scoop 1 tablespoon of the Brown Sugar Glaze into the bottom of each tin. Place 4-5 slices of the Quince fanned out pressed into the Brown Sugar Glaze. Scoop approximately 1/2 cup of Almond Cake into each tin. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 30 – 35 minutes. Until tops are browned, slightly bubbly, and cake tester comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool 5 to 10 minutes.
You can reheat the cakes if desired. To reheat place in a 350 degree F oven for 4 -5 minutes.
This cake would be wonderful served with a Balsamic Caramel sauce and perhaps some candied Ginger Ice Cream.Or simply a dollop of whipped cream.
1531 Healdsburg Avenue
Healdsburg, California 95448
Store Hours – Monday – Saturday 8am – 5pm
I feel very lucky to live here in Sonoma County. I appreciate and am so grateful for the beautiful agricultural area in which I live. I realize that we all live in very different places. You do not have to visit these specific farms to recreate any of these desserts for your friends, families and loved ones. Anywhere that is convenient and comfortable for you to shop that is where you should go; be that your local farm stand, a local market that carries local/organic produce, or a farmer’s market in your town. Coming together, being a part of the community, and sharing food that you have loving made is what is important.
What is your favorite farm, CSA, farm stand or farmer?