Quince, coffee and cardamom

One of many ways of getting through the winter: cake!

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Our firm winter favourite: Winter Fruit and Spice Cake knows many variations and never fails to please the punters when it comes to “Kaffee und Kuchen” on a winter weekend. Currently trending here when it comes to coffee and cake is this year’s Quince, Cardamom and Coffee version.

Use the recipe in the link with quince puree and substitute instant coffee powder for cinnamon (or use both if you prefer).

Lass es Euch schmecken! ( = Enjoy!)

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A Summer of Superlatives

That’s what we got this year in answer to our springtime ponderings:

April warm, Mai kühl, Juni nass, füllt dem Bauer Scheuer und Fass

April warm, May cool, June wet, fills the farmer’s barn and barrel.

https://anediblelandscape.wordpress.com/2018/04/30/blossoms-bees-barns-barrels/

April was warm and frost free, May was not particularly cool and June was certainly not wet, neither was July, or August, or September… it was just hot, very hot, and very dry, for very long…

Yet the fruit harvest in Franconia’s orchards is a recordbreaker this year (and about three weeks ahead of “normal” ripening times).

But what does that actually mean in these times of far removed mass plastic food production? Who can picture what a “record harvest” might look like?

Let’s have a go.

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Here in Bavaria’s main plum growing area it means : 400 tonnes more plums than usual.

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Here in our district the fruit presses have stopped taking apple deliveries because they are overloaded…

Narrowing it down to facts and figures based on our 2 hectare traditional (i.e. non-plantation) orchard:

8kg redcurrants, 10 kg sour cherries, 10kg nectarines, 11kg mirabelle plums, 26kg blackberries, 57 kg cherry plums, 70 kg grapes, 85 kg Switzen plums…

All of which is in fact the upper end of normal,

and then we get to the apples:

3200 kg to date with about another 1000 kg still to come off the trees. The previous record over a period of six years was 1500 kg.

Still to come are the pears and the quinces, both looking like weighing in at the upper end of normal too.

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So its the apples that have done it: more or less three times their previous record harvest!

We invested in our own stand alone fruit press this year – and not a minute too soon!

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18_08_2018 sacks filling up 18_08_18

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18_08_ waiting for the apple express

Hand-picked, processed and pasteurised by ourselves:

that takes us right back to the origins of where food – and drink – come from!

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More Sugar & Spice & All Things Nice

For those of you who do not already know it, meet:

Galangal

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Think: mild ginger with a soupcon of camphor and a peppery punch if you use lots of it!

A root related to ginger, widely used in Far Eastern cookery, and described by German medieval medicine woman Hildegard of Bingen as “warm and healing”, particularly for those suffering from “heartache”.

For those with a bad back she recommends Glühwein with galangal.

In the kitchen Hildegard of Bingen paired galangal with quinces (as well as with pumpkin, fruit salads, jams in general and marinades).

Clearly a lady after my own heart and so I have followed her example: the very last of this years’ quinces have become

Quince Jelly with Galangal

And what a very good idea that was: love it!

If you are quick you can get a jar with a subscription from our Online Orchard Shop – limited edition!

Contemplating Quinces

Its that quince time of year again!

 

 

And I’m thinking: Quince & Honey Sorbet this weekend:

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You will find plenty more quince inspiration here under Recipe Index, 

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or you can just subscribe to all this mellow fruitfulness and have Quince Jam or Quince Jelly delivered to your door from our

Online Orchard Shop

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Fruit and Spice

…and all things nice is what this winter fruit cake is all about.

Actually, it is more like your classic Anglo-Saxon gingerbread in texture, made with pureed fruit (apples, pears, quinces or plums), preserved in the autumn and full of mellow fruitfulness. The fruit puree is what makes the cake wonderfully light and moist.

And the glazed walnuts on the top are reason enough on their own to make it!

Those lucky enough to live in my vicinity will find it in my (German language) pop-up shop this winter, the rest of you will have to make it yourself – here’s the recipe:

Winter Fruit and Spice Cake

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Pureed fruit

(apples or pears or quince or plum all work well)            300g

All-purpose flour                                                                        300g

Baking powder                                                                              2 tsp

Salt                                                                                                   1 tsp  

Cinnamon                                                                                       1 1/2tsp

Ground cardamom                                                                       1 1/4tsp 

Unsalted butter, softened                                                          120g

Rapeseed oil                                                                                   120ml

Light brown sugar                                                                         300g

Large eggs                                                                                        

Crème fraîche                                                                                 80ml

  1. Preheat oven to 180° C and butter and flour a ring tin (26 cm).
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices together in a bowl.
  3. Beat the butter, oil, and brown sugar together until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well in between each egg. Add the crème fraîche and fruit puree, stirring to combine. Fold in the flour mixture.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared ring tin. Bake the cake until golden and cooked through, 55 to 65 minutes. Let the cake cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack to cool completely.
  5. Allow to cool before glazing, if desired.

For the glazed walnuts and browned butter glaze:

Walnuts                                                      about 12 whole walnuts

Unsalted butter, soft                              6 Tbsp

Icing sugar                                                  150g

Milk                                                                2 to 3 Tbsp

Pinch of salt

  1. Place the butter in a small saucepan over a medium to low heat. Let the butter melt completely and begin bubbling. Add the walnuts, turning them to cover them on all sides in butter. Continue to cook for a couple of minutes until the walnuts are lightly browned and the butter begins to smell nutty and darkens in color. Remove the walnuts and set aside. Remove the butter from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  2. Beat in the icing sugar and a pinch of salt followed by enough milk to make a smooth, pourable glaze. If the glaze breaks or curdles, add a bit of warm water to help it re-emulsify. Pour the glaze over the cooled cake, arrange the walnuts on top and allow to harden slightly before slicing

 

Quince Inspiration

It is that wonderfully fragrant time of year again 🙂

Its always a bittersweet task, rounding up my favourite quince recipes for the quince harvest, but the quinces do make a wonderful conclusion to the orchard year!

My firm favourite first up (click on the links for the recipes):

Candied Quince with Ginger

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This is a famous recipe this one is, featuring as it does in The Edible City, a kind of urban kindred spirit to this blog, written by London’s foremost forager, John Rensten, and published this last September by Pan Macmillan.

And what a classy publication this is (and not just because John features my Candied Quince with Ginger!). Beautifully illustrated by Gwen Burns, it features foraged food fit for a feast from a man whose “green vision” I can totally relate to:

Once turned on, your ‘green vision’ will be impossible to turn off: otherwise neglected street trees will suddenly bear fruit, patches of previously irrelevant land will become focal points and the city will reveal a network of free, edible treats, coming and going throughout the year.”

9780752266138the-edible-city

 My other firm favourites during the quince season include:

 Quince and Honey Sorbet

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Quince Chutney

Quince Confectionery

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and of course

Quince Liqueur

Happy quince season everyone!

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Christmas Mince Pies, Orchard Style

A widely-circulated “organic” food magazine here in Germany is currently featuring a recipe for “Mini Nut Pies”, described as an “English speciality”, with a list of ingredients based on dried apricots and “nut mix”… oh dear, oh dear… not what the English would recognise as their Christmas mince pies!

In the interests of improved culinary integration, here come my orchard-style Christmas mince pies…

Meadow Orchard Christmas Mincemeat

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encased in almond pastry – these are alcohol-free (no brandy) and vegetarian (no suet) but still very close to the original “English speciality”:

10418394_10204265921821260_8817699170069391702_n Mince Pies

Image courtesy of www.taylorsphotosafaris.co.uk

Almond Pastry

Plain flour                                                 225g

pinch of salt

Butter                                                        110g

Ground almonds, blanched                140g

Sugar                                                          45g

Beaten egg

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the ground almonds.
  2. Stir in the sugar and add enough beaten egg (probably one whole egg) to just bind the mixture together. Knead lightly. Chill before use then roll out, cut out rounds, fill them with Meadow Orchard Christmas Mincemeat and bake at 200°C until golden brown

Quince and Honey Sorbet

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As an Elizabeth David devotee and a quince fanatic, this was one I simply had to try this year, a recipe apparently first brought to light in 2011 by the UK’s Independent on Sunday newspaper with the then claim that it had never been published before:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/secrets-in-preserve-1234115.html

Elizabeth David’s QUINCE AND HONEY SORBET

This is quite a trouble to make, but worth it to addicts of the strange flavour and wonderful perfume of quinces.

First bake six fine, ripe unpeeled quinces in a covered pot in a low oven until they are soft. Add no water. This preliminary cooking will take about one hour to one hour and a half.

Peel, slice and core the fruit, putting the parings and cores into a saucepan but discarding any bruised or damaged parts of the fruit.

Cover the cores and peel with cold water – about 1.2 litres (2 pints). Boil hard for a few minutes, until the water is well-flavoured and coloured with the quince parings. Strain through a fine sieve into a large bowl or jug. Return this quince water – there will be 750ml (114 pints) – to the saucepan. Add the sliced fruit – there should be approximately 1lb/450g – and let it boil for about 10 minutes until quite soft. Now add eight tablespoons of honey and boil until the juice has turned to a light syrup which just drops from the spoon.

Puree the whole mixture in the blender and chill in refrigerator. Immediately before freezing give the puree another quick whirl in the blender adding a good 300ml (12 pint) of whipping or double cream.

The quantities given will yield about 1.2 litres (2 pints) of mixture, too much for freezing all at once in a small-scale sorbetiere, but since it is hardly worth cooking fewer than six quinces at a time, the best course is to divide the prepared puree into two parts, adding cream only to the amount to be frozen. The rest of the puree will keep for a few days in the refrigerator. Again, add the cream only immediately before freezing.

Note: Instead of double cream try using buttermilk, or half and half fresh home-made yogurt and cream. The flavour of quince is powerful enough to stand up to the acidity of buttermilk and yoghurt.

My verdict: I did not find it “quite a trouble to make” at all, but then I will go a long way with a harvest of quinces! A wonderfully creamy autumn sorbet that found favour with Hermann the German and Mini-Kraut too.

Quince Chutney

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Golden, garlicky and quintessentially delicious!

Quince Chutney

Prep. Time: about 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 90 minutes plus overnight infusing

Makes about 3 x 400 g jars

Ripe quinces                                                                    1 kg

Sugar                                                                             300 g

Onions                                                                            4

Garlic                                                                             1 bulb

Fresh ginger                                                                    1 piece about 3 cm long

Bay leaves                                                                      5

Cinnamon stick                                                                 1

Red wine                                                                         150 ml

Apple cider vinegar                                                           150 ml

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

  1. Peel the quinces, cut into quarters, remove the cores and then finely dice – or grate (dicing will give you chunky chutney, grating will give you mushy chutney).
  2. Place the diced/grated quinces in a large bowl together with the sugar, mix together well, cover and leave overnight. The sugar will draw the liquid out of the fruit, negating the need to add water for cooking and giving you a more intense flavour.
  3. The next day, finely chop the onions and sauté them slowly in the preserving pan until they start to caramelise (at least half an hour). Peel all of the garlic cloves from the bulb, crush them and stir into the caramelising onions. Peel the ginger and chop finely; stir into the onions and garlic.
  4. Add the sugary diced quinces and their juice to the pan together with the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, red wine and the vinegar. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for about 30 minutes, covered, until the quince pieces have softened.
  5. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Turn up the heat and boil rapidly, uncovered, for about another 30 minutes until the liquid has reduced and the chutney has turn a translucent golden red. Keep checking to make sure it does not stick to the base of the pan and burn.
  6. Pour into sterilised jars and seal, leaving to mature for at least a month before using.

Brilliant on a festive season cheeseboard!

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Candied Quince with Ginger

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Based on what was my autumnal revelation last year:

 Mustard Apple Pickle from Mantua

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With origins going back to the 14thcentury at least, this is essentially candied fruit made with quinces as much as with apples and this year, with the quince season upon us here north of the Alps, I am using the same principle, a tad more sugar for the quinces and ground ginger instead of mustard to make:

Candied Quince with Ginger

Prep. Time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes each time over three days

Makes: about 1 kg

Quinces         1 kg

Sugar           500 g

Ground ginger      1 Tbsp (or more according to taste)

  1. Wash, peel and core the quinces before cutting them into bite-sized pieces (save the debris, place in a pan, just cover with water, boil until the quince leftovers have softened, strain through a muslin cloth and use to make wonderfully fragrant Quince Jelly using the same method as for Apple Jelly – you will be glad you did!). IMG_3714 (1)
  2. Place the quince pieces in a bowl, sprinkle with the sugar, cover and leave to marinate for 48 hours.
  3. Strain the quince pieces over a saucepan. Place the strained pieces back in the bowl and bring the juice in the pan to the boil. Simmer for 4 minutes and then pour the hot syrup over the pieces in the bowl. Cover and leave to marinate for 24 hours.
  4. Repeat this process another two times of the next two days.
  5. The next day, bring the quince pieces and the juice to the boil in a saucepan, simmer for 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the ground ginger and pot in sterilised jars.
  6. Stored in a cool, dark place the candied quince will keep for many months. Serve as an accompaniment to meat and cheese (in Northern Italy they also use it as a tortellini filling) or else with toast and croissants, or a fragrant addition to apple pies and other bakes.