Securely tucked into our collective consciousness there is a story of good and evil, and the wakening to reality. All brought upon us by a simple bite of some dangling fruit weighted down by its maturation, shimmering with the beauty and temptation of the moment. Now, I personally am not one to embrace this yarn as fact but do appreciate its moral tale. There are a few reasons I cannot fully live this story, and one reason in particular throws me completely off course.
If in fact this story of woe is true then it would be impossible for the apple to have been the source of desire and the subsequent bite that forever banished us from a blissful earthy existence. For historic tracing plants the icon of the autumn season somewhere in China traveling out from there transforming pies forever. However, there is another fruit of similar size and shape of the apple that can claim the Fertile Crescent as its home – the quince.
Golden yellow when ripe with an aroma that could seduce the most jaded of noses. This fruit is not to be eaten raw. Bitten into prematurely and a tannic, sour note laces your tongue. To avoid this folly the quince is always cooked: baked, sautéed, boiled down revealing a sweet, rosy fruit. It even has the texture that is reminiscent of a cooked apple. So, perhaps I should not be so hard about this confusion as long as it does not cause another lapse in judgment.
In England one may have some quince cheese with some cheddar while enjoying a sip of port or visit Spain where membrillo (quince paste) is served with sliced manchego cheese. If the Tartin sisters had an orchard of quince that dropped tart would have a new topping. In the New World the Spaniards clearly discovered the possibility of guava to satisfy their need for a rich, fragrant slice of boiled down quince.
Is it the ease of access that the apple offers with its quick, crisp, snap right there in the market that allowed it usurp the quince’s rightful place in our history? I absolutely embrace this long ago discarded siren, and celebrate its temptation.
Quince Laced Cake – one 9-inch cake
1-1/2 pounds quince – peeled, cored and sliced
5-ounces guava paste – sliced
8 ounces unsalted butter
1-teaspoon rose water
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
Pre-heat the oven to 350-dgrees.
Grease and flour a 9-inch cake pan.
Beat the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy.
Mix to together the eggs, milk and rose water.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.
Once the butter is beaten slowly beat in the eggs scraping down the side of the bowl a couple of times. Mix in the flour and beat to completely combine.
Lay the sliced quince on the bottom of the cake pan, and then disperse the guava paste over the quince. Pour over the cake batter. Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Remove the cake to a cooling racking. Cool the cake. Turn the cake out on to a plate.