This spring I planted a quince tree as a total leap of faith since I’ve never before eaten a quince and was not even sure I would like them. Boy am I glad now I did! Raw they are painfully sour and rock hard but once cooked they are delectable – like a firm textured pear with a well rounded flavor. They turn anything apple into something surreal.
There is a little extra preparation involved with quinces but it’s totally worth it.
To prepare your quinces peel, quarter and core them. In a pan combine 4 cups of filtered water with 2 cups of organic sugar, one cinnamon stick and 1/2 a split vanilla bean. Add 4 quinces and simmer until they are soft and just beginning to turn pink. Let them cool, drain and use them in any tart or pie recipe, or serve with a scoop of homemade snickerdoodle ice cream.
You can make this using a deep pie dish or use a spring form pan to make a tall tart as I have done. For a deep dish pie use the lesser quantities of fruit and thickener I’ve listed, the larger quantities are enough to fill a high-sided spring form pan about 3/4 of the way up.
This crust is so forgiving that I started to roll it out, stopped to sort some one’s squash order, helped the kids with something and then gathered some boxes up for a neighbor who stopped by. By the time I got back to the crust it was sticky and soft but I was able to press it into the pan using moist fingers. This is truly the most forgiving pie crust I can think of.
Tonnemaker Apple Quince Tall Tart
Recipe for shortbread crust
2 to 4 prepared quinces
5 to 7 apples – I prefer tart ones with a well rounded flavor like pink lady, any of the pippins or granny smith. By combining several varieties of apples you’ll get a more interesting tart.
2/3 cup organic sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons tapioca granules or organic cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or mace
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest or Rockridge Orchards apple cider vinegar
Preheat the oven to 400 F
Divide the pastry crust into two balls, returning one to the refrigerator. Roll the other out on a lightly floured surface. Rolling the dough out in between two floured silpats will make this even easier. Line a 9″ pie plate with the crust and chill it while you prepare the filling ingredients. Alternatively you can roll out 3/4 of the dough and line a tall spring form cake pan.
In a large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients including the quince slices. One by one peel the apples, halve them and scoop out the cores using a melon baller. This makes short work out of a laborious process and you can fly through them since you aren’t concerned with cutting yourself with a knife. Slice the apples thinly and add them to the mixing bowl as they become done.
Allow the filling to sit in the bowl for 10 minutes so the apples start to juice and the tapioca can soften.
After your filling has started to juice carefully arrange the fruit in the prepared crust-lined pan then dot the top with butter.
Roll out the remaining pie crust and cut out patterns in it using small cookie cutters or a shot glass, then arrange the cookies on the top of the crust, slightly overlapping where you’ve cutout. If you are making the a tall tart simply arrange the cutout shapes on top of the butter dotted filling. If you want to be extra fancy you can brush the top crust with egg wash and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of organic sugar.
Bake the tart or pie for 15 minutes at 400F until golden then reduce the heat to 350 F and bake another 15 minutes. After 15 minutes cover the top of the pie and continue cooking until the filling starts to bubble. It will probably take another 20 – 30 minutes for the deep dish pie and another 45-60 minutes for the tall tart.