If you come across quince - a lumpy, bumpy fruit that looks like a fuzzy apple - take a few home.
I hear they eat quince raw in Mexico with chili powder, salt and lime, but that's too tart for me. I prefer to peel quince and poach them in simple syrup with a squeeze of lemon and a bit of vanilla bean. The quince flesh gets soft and turns from creamy white to coral. You bite into it expecting the grainy texture of cooked pears, but instead you get toothsome velvet.
A few weeks ago I ordered a case of quince from Jim Jaffe, the produce manager at Bob's Market, a small family-owned grocery store in my neighborhood. Jim's been in the produce business a long time, and he goes to the Los Angeles wholesale produce market himself when the rest of the world is fast asleep. He knows his suppliers, knows his customers, and favors flavor over appearance when he orders. Jim takes my requests for a case of quince or sunchokes in stride. If it's in season and available, it's in the back of the store waiting for me the next day.
I overdosed on rich segments of poached quince, then pureed what was left and made muffins. Beautiful to look at, spicy and floral under the nose, delicious in the mouth.
Pureed poached quince gives these spice muffins an exotic twist. Note that the cooking time does not include preparing the poached quince, which should be done ahead.
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup plus 12 slices poached quince, divided (puree 1 cup in blender)
- 1/3 cup grapeseed or canola oil
- 2 eggs
- 3 Tbsp milk
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, pureed quince, oil, eggs and milk until well combined. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. I always put my baking soda and baking powder through a little sieve to make sure there are no lumps, but you're welcome to take your chances.Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and stir gently just to combine. The batter will be lumpy, and that's okay. Stir too much and you'll end up with hockey pucks instead of muffins.Divide the batter among the 12 muffin cups. Lay a slice of the poached quince on top of each muffin. Bake about 25 minutes, until the tops of the muffins are starting to turn golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool 2 minutes in the muffin tin, then remove the muffins and cool completely on a rack. If they last that long.
DetailsPrep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12 muffins