Tag Archives: quince

Home, and a homely pie with walnut pastry


At the end of the Lord of the Rings series, Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin ride back into the Shire, home…at last.

We heaved a similar sigh on returning home from holidays on Monday night. Not that we’ve been fighting dragons or destroying magical rings, but we could finally unpack our suitcases, instinctively recognise the currency again (I never quite figured out the difference between 10 and 20 cent Euro coins), stop thinking about hotel bookings and catch up on this blog!

I can also buy groceries and make dinner on a whim, knowing exactly what is in the pantry and which kitchen utensils are where. (First dinner at home? Rigatoni with crispy prosciutto, baby peas, goats milk fetta and just enough cream cheese to mix everything together)

Don’t get me wrong. Scotland, London, Germany – were beautiful, often magical. I am in love with Hebridean sunlight and kaffee und kuchen in Germany, and am still a little obsessed by black faced sheep. But there is something about home, our little world. Even going back to work on Tuesday was fun, catching up with friends, staying awake though my brain was still on central European time.

I’ll be sorting our 2000-odd holiday snaps for a while, so expect random photos of peat bogs, lochs, black faced sheep, churches and castles at random intervals. Meanwhile, on the theme of home coming, here’s a homely apple, pear and quince pie with walnut pastry.


Just before going on holidays, I made savoury galettes with the Tuesdays with Dorie group. After the galette, I tweaked the cornmeal pastry recipe, using ground walnuts instead of the cornmeal, and made it into a mini pie.

It was my first time making a lattice top for a pie, and it worked!


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Pierre, there’s butter in my brioche


I had to laugh when I saw Pierre Hermé’s brioche recipe described as “richer than Bill Gates!” The archetypal French viennoiserie, compared to an all-American capitaliste?

Then, a few days ago, I read that Bill Gates is once again the richest man in the world, taking back the title from Mexico’s Carlos Slim. Such is the world of impossible riches (72 billions, really??), shady dealings and fickle finance.

If I were Bill Gates, I’d be celebrating with a bottle of the best champagne, and a few slices of baguette liberally smeared with smelly French cheese and garnished with truffles. Whole truffles. Make that the biggest truffles, just like Alice B Toklas wrote. Then, I’d spend time learning to make the perfect brioche.

I guess that’s why I will never be rich like Bill Gates or Carlos Slim. They love making money and owning Microsoft / America Movi. I like baking, and reading books for hours on end. And learning to make brioche.


This “richer than Bill Gates” recipe is the closest I’ll get to feeling like a multi-billionaire. There is a whopping amount of butter, as much butter as there is of flour. “Enriched” doesn’t begin to describe what happens to the dough, ‘supersized by butter’ is closer to the mark.

Yet, such is the miracle of brioche, what came out of the oven wasn’t stodgy, or greasy, or heavy. Although the bread was richer than any bread I’ve ever had, although we knew we were eating butter by the spoonful, the bread was light, with an open, tender crumb, almost fluffy. There was a flaky crust that shattered – but oh so delicately – when we bite into it. Then there’s the ‘chiffon cake-like crumb’, as TX Farmer from the Fresh Loaf describes.

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Heavenly ambrosia: quince jam and Hungarian short bread


Bottom: First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats on, then read the names of the actors, and so grow to a point.
Quince: Marry, our play is, The most lamentable comedy, and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisby.

Midsummer night’s dream, Act 1, Scene 2

Quince. That un-beautiful, knobbly, hard, yellow fruit that appears in fruit shops each autumn. And goes through an almost magical transformation in the kitchen: when cooked, the fruit turns soft, then becomes pink-tinged, then red-tinged; pureed, and cooked over a leisurely stove, the fruit paste becomes a rich, translucent, jewel-like red.


All this time, a heavenly perfume fills the house. The smell is a kind of perfume that evokes the Arabian Nights, the fabled quality of rose water and vanilla, with such a come-hither, heady, honeyed sweetness. A smell that we could almost taste

We made quince paste on the weekend, in a slow cooker. And the quince paste became the show-stopping star of this Hungarian short bread.

Don’t get me wrong, the Hungarian short bread was sweet, rich, soft-crumbly, airy-light. There was no hint of toughness or overworked dough. This was due to the unusual method of grating frozen dough into the pan rather than rolling out the dough. I have used this method before, for this stunning yet stunningly simple apricot and chocolate tart (link to UKTV website). If you don’t mind granted dough scattered all around the tart pan and on the bench, this pastry is fool proof, and seriously good.

And the Hungarian short bread couldn’t be simpler. Grate frozen dough. Spread quince paste. Grate more frozen dough. Bake. Dust in a snowstorm of icing sugar when the tart is just out of the oven. Cool (barely) and eat.

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