Quince and Gingerbread

Quince and Gingerbread make such a nice treat! This is like an upside down cake and it tastes so delicious.

In the fall, I like to keep a bowl of fall fruit on the table for not only display, but for nibbling as well. I like to have some quince in the bowl as they give off a lovely fruity aroma when ripe.

Ripening Quince

Ripening Quince

Quince are similar to a cross between an apple and a pear. They look like fat flat-bottomed pears. Quince are green when unripe and soften to a creamy yellow when ripe. The aroma is also a clue to ripeness. The aroma is captivating and inspires poems  – The Owl and the Pussy Cat by Sir Edward Lear has the two dining on “mince and slices of quince”, cooked slices of course.

Inedible raw, unlike apples or pears, quince take on a lovely mellow flavor and maintain the sweet grainy pear-like texture when cooked. Unlike most apples, quince hold on to their shape when cooked. They don’t turn brown when sliced as apples do.

If you can’t find Quince, you can substitute apples and or pears if you like.

Quince and Gingerbread Cake

Prepare the Quince:

  • 2 pounds peeled, seeded and sliced quince
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons whole  butter

Place the water and sugar into a large saute pan, bring to a boil, stir and let boil until the sugar begins to become a light golden brown. Add the butter and the quince, stir to coat then simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the quince are tender and cooked through.

Set aside to cool slightly.

Butter the inside of a, 8″ cake pan or what ever cake pan you want to use. I baked some in large (really large) ramekins and another in a square pan. Whatever pan you use, be sure you have a plate large enough to invert the finished cake onto after baking. (More on this later)

You can choose to use pan spray rather than butter for the pan. This ensures the cake will turn out easily when done.

Pour and place the quince mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. If you like, arrange the fruit in a decorative manner as this will be the top of the cake when done.

Once the quince are cooling in the prepared pan, make the gingerbread.

Quince and Gingerbread

Quince and Gingerbread

For the Gingerbread:

  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Add the molasses to the boiling water and stir in the baking soda. Allow this to cool while putting the rest of the cake together.

In a mixing bowl, mix then set aside:

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon non-iodized salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream:

  • 1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons) soft butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Cream the sugar and butter for about 3 minutes, add 1 large egg yolk and vanilla; process until smooth.

On low-speed, add the flour mixture alternating with the water and molasses mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl several times. Mix the batter until smooth.

Pour the batter over the quince in the pan. Bake in a 350°F oven for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven, allow to cool for 15 minutes. Place a plate on top of the pan and then invert the two so the cake comes out of the pan onto the plate.

To do this maneuver easily, place a kitchen towel, folded long way, on the counter top. Place the warm cake pan on the towel, put the plate you want to invert the cake onto upside down on top of the cake pan. Fold the ends of the towel over the cake pan and the plate. hold tightly, pick it up and flip it over and set it down. slide the towel out from under the plate, then lift off the cake pan and voila! The upside down cake should be correctly displayed.

Serve with whipped cream or vanilla yogurt while still slightly warm.

Ginger has the ability to warm from the inside, the baked sweet and tart quince provide a comforting fall dessert, just perfect when the air gets nippy. I love this with a nice cup of tea.

Quince and Gingerbread

Quince and Gingerbread

A Gingerbread Village

I taught a baking class one year at this time. The College hosted a “Christmas at the College” event so we built a Gingerbread Village.

We invited small children in to decorate graham cracker houses and students created large house. Here is a gallery of the different houses on display.

Notice the windows, inside lighting, stained glass and the one Thomas Kincaid House and look for the ice skater and the 3 little pigs houses made from “straw, sticks and bricks”.

There are a lot of ideas for decorating your gingerbread house. Some materials you can use are:

  • Ice cream cones: traditional and sugar cones for roof peaks and trees
  • Sheet gelatin for windows, you can make stained glass by using a cotton swab and food coloring
  • Rock candy for rock walls and pathways
  • Shredded wheat for thatched roofs and frosted shredded wheat for snow topped
  • Dentine gum for bricks
  • Marshmallows for snow men
  • Candy corn for candle flames
  • Pretzel rods and sticks for fence posts and fire wood stacks
  • Hold your house together with hot glue and then cover the glue with royal icing. The house will hold together better and not be as fragile.
  • Don’t cut walls too thin. They need to be strong enough to support the weight of the roof and all the candy you are going to stuck to it.
  • Use a sturdy board as the base so you can move the house around on the base and not have to lift the actual house itself to move around.
  • Plan a hole in the bottom of the board to stuff twinkle lights into so the inside of the house lights up.

Happy Holidays!