Happiness on rainy November days: a warm and comforting crumble with fruit. Now is the time to cook with quinces. You can find them at farmers’ markets and the better grocery stores. Or maybe you are, like us, lucky enough to know someone with a quince tree in his or her backyard. The quince is not an easy fruit though: it’ll take some time to clean and cook. But it’s rewarding in many ways: at room temperature quinces keep well for weeks while filling the room with a floral aroma; because of their high-pectin content they’re also ideal for preserves (see for example our quince paste and quince aioli), and they have their own unique somewhat tropical taste which complements a wide variety of dishes. When I lived in the US I sometimes made this quince crumble, or crisp, with apple and star anise. The ultimate November dessert, if you’d ask me.
Action Time: 10 minutes + 40-50 minutes cooking time + resting
3 tbsp sugar
3 apples (about 1 lb/450 g), peeled and cubed
4 whole star anise
powdered sugar (optional), to dust
For the crumble topping:
1/3 cup/2 oz/ 60 g nuts (like almonds and hazelnuts), chopped
2.5 oz/75 g spelt flour
2 oz/70 g sugar
½ tsp ground star anise
½ tsp ground cinnamon
5 tbsp/70 g cold butter, cubed
Extra: 4 small ovenproof dishes
1. First make the crumble topping. In a bowl, mix the nuts with the flour, sugar, star anise, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Add the butter and work it with your fingertips into flour mixture until it comes together and is crumbly (not sandy). Chill for at least 30 minutes.
2. Quarter the quinces. Peel and core the quinces and cut them into pieces. Place the pieces in a saucepan with 1 tbsp sugar and cover with water. Bring to a boil and let the quince pieces cook for about 15-20 minutes until they are soft. Strain the quinces and mix them with the apple and 2 tbsp sugar.
3. Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C. Pile fruit into the small baking dishes and top with the crumble. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Remove from the oven and let stand for several minutes. Dust with powdered sugar if you like. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. And don’t eat the whole star anise ;)
Make a double amount of the topping and freeze it, so you’ll always have a dessert ready when surprise guests knock on your door. Put the frozen crumble topping on the fruit right before baking.
Grind your own spices for ultimate flavor. Use 1-2 star anise for this recipe.