Quince & Apple Crumble

Quince & Apple CrumbleAppreciating Quince

With their enticing fragrance and complex flavor, quince surely deserve even wider appreciation. A common fruit in the Middle East, throughout the Mediterranean and in parts of South America. Yet here in North America they can be difficult to find. They’re considered a “specialty food” and even in limited supply during their short fall season.

Quince & Apple CrumbleRipe quince have the most amazing fragrance. They can fill a room with their appealing scent. Some varieties turn a rosy peach color when cooked. And all quince have a most unique sweet taste of flowers and honey. Search out quince now, before their season ends. I recommend Quince and Apple Crumble as a most delicious dish for appreciating quince.

I had plans to get this recipe to you earlier in quince season. My only excuse is that developing this recipe took a number of tries and a bit of extra time to get it right. 😉

Quince and I
My first introduction to quince came more than 30 years ago. While the pastry chef for Narsai’s (a restaurant in California, just north of Berkeley), I was handed a bag of just-picked quinces. Oh my, such an exotic fruit.Quince & Apple Crumble I remember my excitement as they cooked. They changed color from pale yellow to rosy peach and from almost inedible to delectable. So exciting. I remember researching quince in old books and magazines at the library. Finally combining a number of recipes to create Quince and Orange Preserves.

I just looked. That original recipe lives on page 47 in my book Sweets for Saints and Sinners. According to the head notes, I folded the preserves into whipped cream as a filling for carrot cake. Still sounds rather delicious.

Quince & Apple Crumble or Crisp?
According to the Huffington Post the presence of oats makes the difference between a crumble and a crisp.

A crumble is a baked dish of fresh fruit (apples, berries, plums, etc.) that is topped with an oat-based streusel. A crisp is exactly like a crumble, except there are no oats in the streusel.

I’m certain though, that my mom’s favorite recipe for Apple Crisp graced the back of the round red box of Quaker Oatmeal. For all these many years, I trusted Larry, the smiling Quaker man on the front of the box. There must be more to the story, i.e., regional differences?

Does anyone have another explanation for the difference between a crisp and a crumble?

Otherwise today’s recipe is definitely a Crumble. As would my Rhubarb Apple ‘n Ginger Crisp recipe be a crumble as well.

♥  Wishing you a most healthy, prosperous, delightful and delicious 2014  ♥

Quince & Apple Crumble

Quince & Apple Crumble

Vegan, gluten and dairy-free or not.
Hard quince can take a long time to cook. Poaching the quince and apple slices individually and in advance shortens the baking time. Plus the concentrated poaching liquid has an incredibly rich, floral and fruity flavor. Definitely an extra step. Definitely worth it. Definitely delicious.

Makes   8-10 servings in a 7 x 12-inch oval baking dish
Active Time 1 hour
Total Time   1 hour 45 minutes

Poaching Liquid and Fruit
Quince & Apple Crumble3½ cups water
¼ cup light honey
Half a lemon, seeded
Half an orange, seeded
1 cinnamon stick
1 large bay leaf
2 pounds quince, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch thick slices (about 7 cups)
1½ pounds apple, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ -inch thick slices (about 5½ cups)

Maple Pecan Crumble
½ cup oat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
Rounded ¼ cup maple syrup
3 ounces cold coconut oil or butter cut into ½ inch pieces
1 1/8 cups rolled oats
½ cup crispy pecans or lightly toasted pecans

  1. Into a large pot place the water, honey, lemon half, orange half, cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Bring to the boil. Lower the heat to very low and keep the poaching liquid barely simmering while you prepare the quince for poaching.
  2. Quince & Apple CrumblePeel, quarter and core the quince. Remove all the tough and fibrous parts under the seeds. Cut the quince in ¼-inch thick slices.
  3. Remove the lemon and orange and squeeze them to release their juice into the poaching liquid. (Discard them or use the half lemon and orange for another purpose.) Gently stir in the sliced quince, till they are submerged in the liquid. Weight down the quince with a pot lid. Raise the heat to high to bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat so the liquid simmers for 15 minutes.
  4. While the quince slices are cooking, peel, quarter and core the apples. Cut the apples into ¼-inch thick slices.
  5. Test a slice of quince. If tender, use a slotted spoon to transfer the drained quince to a large bowl.
  6. Quince & Apple CrumbleGently stir the apple slices into the poaching liquid. Weight them down with a pot lid. Raise the heat to high. When the liquid boils, reduce the heat so the liquid simmers for 6 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the drained apples to the bowl with the quince.
  7. Raise the heat and reduce the poaching liquid to 2/3 cup.
  8. Heat the oven to 350 degrees
  9. Gently mix the quince and apple slices together. Transfer them to a baking dish. Pour the reduced poaching liquid over the fruit.
  10. Prepare the Maple Pecan Crumble: Pulse together the flour, maple syrup and spices in a food processor until just mixed. Add the cold butter or coconut oil to the spice mixture and pulse until the butter or coconut oil is well-distributed. Quince & Apple CrumbleAdd the oats and pecans and pulse a couple of times to distribute them. The crumble will begin to stick together but should be left quite chunky.
  11. Sprinkle the crumble topping over the fruit. Bake 25 minutes. Turn the baking dish 180 degrees. Bake another 20 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the juices are bubbling.
  12. Quince & Apple Crumble is delicious at any temperature. Top with a scoop of ice cream or a spoonful of yogurt sweetened with maple syrup and a bit of pure vanilla extract.

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4 thoughts on “Quince & Apple Crumble

  1. Hmmm, you pose a good question…what exactly is the difference between a crisp and a crumble? As I think things through I find I use them both but I always say apple crisp and blueberry crumble…never blueberry crisp, etc. Regardless the quince and apple crisp/crumble sounds like an ideal warm winter sweet. I have personally never had quince, I don’t thin I’ve ever even seen them in a store. If I ever do I will be sure to pick some up now that I know what to do with them.

    • And until this recipe, Rhonda, I’d liked the term “Crumble” though never used it before. Interesting you always said apple crisp–the work of Larry on the Quaker Oatmeal box no doubt. Quince are worth seeking out, though they may require a special order. You’ll know they’re ripe when they fill your kitchen with their fragrance.

  2. Looks yummy. I love your writing. I learned a lot and it’s so entertaining. Looking forward to trying another one of your recipes.

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