Monthly Recipe/Skye Gyngell’s Quince and Cobnut Tart

Quince is probably my favourite autumn fruit. Tasting somewhere
between an apricot and a pear, it is beautiful to behold and a joy to cook.
It does, however, need long, slow cooking to soften the flesh and
intensify the lovely colour. This upside-down tart is really a variation
on a tarte tatin and is best eaten still slightly warm from the oven,
with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or crème fraîche.


Serves 8–10

For the quince:

4 firm, ripe, unblemished
100g caster sugar
2 bay leaves
1 vanilla pod, split in half
About 350ml verjuice or

For the pastry:

150g plain flour
85g chilled unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
1 tsp caster sugar
3 tbsp chilled water
To assemble
30g chopped cobnuts or
20g chilled unsalted butter,
cut into small flakes
1–1½ tbsp caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas 3. Wipe the quince clean with
a clean, damp cloth, then cut lengthways in half, using a
sharp knife.

Place the quince, cut side up, in a small roasting tray in which
they fit snugly, and scatter over the sugar, bay leaves and
vanilla pod (with seeds). Pour over enough verjuice or water
to just cover, then seal tightly with foil. Bake on the middle
shelf of the oven for 1 hours, then remove the foil and
return to the oven for a further 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and pour off the cooking liquor into
a small pan. Bring to the boil and let bubble until reduced
to a thick syrup consistency, almost like a caramel. Set aside
with the baked quince.

For the pastry, it’s a good idea to chill the flour in the fridge
for 20 minutes or so before you start. Sift the flour into a
bowl. Cut the cold butter into 5mm slivers, letting them fall
into the flour as you cut them. Add the salt and sugar. With
your fingertips, work the butter lightly into the dough. You
should have a texture like very rough sand. Add the water
and mix until the dough just comes together.

Tip the crumby dough onto a large sheet of cling film and
lay another piece of cling film on top. Using a rolling pin,
roll the dough out between the cling film to a thick disc, then
transfer to the fridge to rest for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Core each baked quince
half, then slice into 4 or 5 wedges. Arrange, skin side down,
in a circular pattern over the base of a 20cm springform
cake tin. Scatter over the chopped nuts and spoon over
2 tbsp of the reduced quince cooking liquor.

Unwrap the pastry and place on a lightly floured surface.
Roll out very thinly to a large round, about 24cm in diameter
and no thicker than 3mm. Trim the edges.

Dot the quince with the butter flakes. Carefully lay the pastry
over the top, tucking the edges down inside the rim of the
cake tin. Prick the pastry with a fork and sprinkle with the
sugar. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes until the pastry is
dark golden and the juices are bubbling around the edges.
Leave to stand for 10 minutes before carefully inverting and
unmoulding the tart onto a plate to serve.