Recipe: Apple & Quince (Syrup) Crumble

Apple and Quince Crumble

Sorry for the photo – sometimes you want to snap and eat!

The quince tree in my parents’ garden is dying.   It is the tree which I learnt to climb as a child, its twisted branches providing an easy ladder to my turret, my crow’s nest, my cockpit, my command post of my kingdom.   Over 30 years later when I look at the tree with adult eyes it seems small – I probably was never more than 5 foot from the ground.  The fork in the branches where I used to sit; and lower a bucket for treats, seems too little for me to have squeezed into.

The leaves of the tree were once healthy, green, covered with silvery hairs – a sparse fur.  In the autumn it dripped with quinces, yellow and fragrant. The fruits are not that pretty, slightly misshapen and bulbous, the ugly cousin of the pear.  Once cooked they transform, think of the most perfumed floral pear with notes of honey, the pale flesh turns a deep orange pink.  With their fragrance and concentrated flavour a little quince goes a long way.

In Slavonia, in Eastern Croatia, they plant a quince tree when a baby is born.  Guaranteeing a  supply of this exquisite fruit for a new child is a thoughtful and charming custom.

“they dined on mince and slices of quince…”

The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear (1871)

The tree always produced huge quantities of fruit, our quinces were in demand throughout the village – every autumn my mother would receive orders for bags of fruit.   She would cook with them and jam and jelly the remainder.   Sadly for the last few years the amount of fruit has declined, and this year there were no quinces and living in the city – shopping in the market and at supermarkets – I no longer have a source.

Step in Atkins and Potts who make a range of sauces, condiments, chutneys, pastes, marinades etc who sent me a bottle of their quince syrup.  It is a pretty golden colour, thick and gently flavoured with quince.   I can think of lots of ways of using it, but my first call was in a crumble.  If you do not have the luxury of your own or friends with a tree and there are no quinces for sale near you then it certainly is worth a look.

Ever since taking part in the Sunvil Supper Club earlier in the summer I have been making  my crumble the Swedish, smulpaj, way – where you stir melted butter into flour and sugar, rather than the British way of rubbing in solid butter.  I find it far quicker and less messy.   I now keep a bag of crumble mix in the freezer, grab it and use from frozen for a super speedy pudding.

Recipe: Apple & Quince (Syrup) Crumble

Serves 4 – with spare crumble mix for the freezer

Adapted from Sunvil

Ingredients

100g plain flour
75g soft light brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
50g butter – melted

4 large dessert apples – peeled, cored and sliced
1 tbs quince syrup (maple syrup would work well in its place)

Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / GM.

Arrange the apple slices in a pie or gratin dish and drizzle the quince syrup over.

Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder in a bowl, pour the melted butter over, stir until the mixture gathers into crumbs.

Scatter over the apple, and bake for about 20 minutes.

Serve with cream.

Atkins and Potts Quince Syrup

Image from Atkins and Potts

Many thanks to Atkins & Potts.  They also have a new gluten free sauce range – we tried the stroganoff – which was very good indeed and worth keeping on hand if you have any gluten free friends.

Sending this to Ren’s Simple and In Season, hosted this month by Nazima on her new site Franglais Kitchen.

Simple and in Season

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About Helen

Helen Best-Shaw is a freelance writer, who has been writing about achievable and affordable food on Fuss Free Flavours since 2007. She also contributes articles and recipes to a number of online and print food magazines.

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Comments

  1. Your crumble looks delicious and I’m really keen to try this Swedish method which I’ve not heard of before. Quince syrup sounds yummy too, don’t think I’ve ever tried one!

  2. Aah, Helly, your evocative introduction about the tree of your childhood dying slowly has made me so sad. Heart wrenching, to lose one of those things that’s such a strong part of one’s childhood memory.

  3. I love quince- particularly the gorgeous colour they turn on slow cooking. Like scented apples they are a rare gift from nature. I wish they were more widely available

  4. That is so sad, a big part of your childhood memories to be no longer. It does go to show you how powerful certain memories can be. Perhaps they would consider growing another one in it’s place?
    I have to tell you that there is a communal quince tree in our allotment with bundles of fruits on it. I do love their downy skin but unfortunately cannot cook with them. They produce a smell I just cannot stand, much in the same way as I cannot bear the smell of lilies.
    So, I will not be cooking any in the future. If you would like any next year, just let me know and i will pick you a bags worth!

  5. What a beautifully written post.

    You are woman after my own heart – climbing trees is definitely not just for boys.

    I was gutted when we had to cut down the apple trees in my Nannas garden,, I used to love using those old-woman reacher grabber things to get the apples.

    I’m a bit sad for you. Maybe you could do some guerrila gardening and plant a tree somewhere?

  6. What an interesting way to make a crumble, it soes sound easier! How sad to hear about your quince tree. It’s lovely you have such memories, it sound like the tree was a lot of fun. I do hope it makes a miracle recovery! It’s true, I’ve never seen a quince in London!

  7. I remember how sad I felt when our family plum tree died :-( It provided fruit for so many years, even my dog would eat the plums that had fallen onto the grass AND spit out the stones! Clever dog. Quince trees are so rare that it is good you had one for so long. I LOVE the quince syrup, too, what a great alternative. xx

  8. Maya Russell says:

    Would love a picture of a quince. Lovely recipe!

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