Sunday, 21 October 2018

Having Your Cake, and Eating It...

If I'd known it was Apple Day, I'd have baked a cake...

Well I did and I have, so happy Apple Day everyone. Here's a cake which whilst not strictly appley in nature, is straight out of the orchard and bursting with the kind of local distinctiveness that set Common Ground on the road to Apple Day in the first place.

A couple of years ago I took the hard but necessary decision of removing our three grape vines, scene of a handful of very fine red wine vintages, but in recent years more of a crime scene as plagues of voracious Wasps beat us to the ripening crop. Their place has been taken by a strapping young Quince, a Meech's Prolific c/o piggybacking on an order from our friends at Torkard Cider of Hucknall-in-the-North.

Prolific! Not-half. This is only its second season in the garden and already we've got far more fruit than we can deal with. Hence the standard late-Summer greeting of "Hello. Would you like some Courgettes?" has taken a Quince-like direction.

Quince is a moderately versatile cooking fruit if you accept that everything you cook with it will be slightly dominated by its massive tart and tangy fruitiness. It's a lovely flavour, but I wouldn't pare it with delicate fish dishes for example, or anything delicate for that matter. A cake is ideal though, so...

Quince, Walnut, Honey & Perry Cake (Based on a recipe from 'Thyme' of Southrop Manor Est, Glocs)

Peel, core, and chop three or four Quince, depending on size, and poach for around 45 minutes in a whatever you fancy. I chose some of our own Perry, plus a dollop of honey and a couple of Star Anise. Drain and reserve the liquor.

You'll need 50g of chopped Walnuts, so if your nuts are shell-on as our were (another glut, this time from our neighbours), you may want to put some music on and begin the lengthy process of cracking and extracting. Incidentally, if anyone knows the secret to extracting Walnut innards whole and not in numerous fiddly bits, a 'comments' section is a available below...

Chop your nuts and set aside. In a food processor, blend 325g Caster Sugar with 125g Butter until fluffy. Add 3 Eggs and a dash of Vanilla Extract and beat until combined.

Measure out 360g Plain Flour, 1/2 tsp Baking Powder, 1/4 tsp Cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp Salt. Add half of this to the batter until combined. Add 120ml Milk, then the rest of the flour mix until combined. Fold in the Walnuts and Quince pieces.

Transfer to a greased cake tin and bake at 150C (Fan Oven) for around 1 hour, and 15 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, reduce the Quince Poaching Liquor to a thin syrup.

Check the cake with a sharp knife to ensure the innards are properly cooked through. Let it cool for a bit then turn out onto a rack. Poke holes all over the top of the cake and gradually spoon the syrup over so that some soaks in, some glazes the top, and some trickles down the sides onto the work surface

Phone all your friends, you've got Cake!

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