Quince is a very hard and tart fruit in its raw state, which softens and becomes a delicious treat when cooked and sweetened. When growing up in the French countryside, we commonly used to make quince jelly and quince paste with this fruit high in pectin. After cooking for a long time, the flesh of the fruit turns a beautiful deep pink color, which is most appealing and appetizing.
- 800 g/1 lb 12 oz quince
- 60 g/ 2 oz French butter
- 90 g/ 3 oz raw honey (Mild flavor like acacia)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 cloves
- A few sprigs thyme
For the crust:
- 150 g/ 5 1/4 oz all purpose organic in bleached flour
- 70 g/ 2.5 oz French butter
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1-2 Tbsp cold water
Preheat oven to 375F.
Start by making the crust. Place the flour, salt and cold butter, cut in small pieces, in a bowl.
Using one hand only, gently and briskly mix the butter and flour to coat each piece. Then, press the flour-coated pieces of butter between your fingertips to ‘crumble’ the mixture. Continue until the mixture resembles a sandy texture. Then add just enough cold water to form a non sticky ball.
Place the dough on wax paper, wrap it and refrigerate it. Meanwhile, cut the quinces in half, then quarters. Do not peel the quinces at this time as it would be a very difficult task. It is easier to peel them after cooking them. Cut each quarter in halves to makes eighths. Quince oxidize extremely quickly by contact with air.Place them in a wide-bottom pot, barely cover with cold water, and add the cinnamon stick and cloves. Bring to a boils and simmer about 30 minutes, until the quinces are tender. Meanwhile, place generous pieces of butter on the bottom of a 9-inch pie dish as well as around the sides. Pour the honey over the butter to cover the bottom of the pie dish. Spread the thyme leaves over the butter and honey. Reserve a couple sprigs of thyme for presentation. Take the quince out of the boiling liquid into a colander using a skimmer/slotted spoon. Reserve the liquid for another use, such as quince jelly. Cut out the seedy core. Peel the quince pieces. By now the skin should come off relatively easily. Arrange the quince slices in a circle following the shape of the dish. Take the dought out of the refrigerator and place it on a floured surface. Using a French rod-style rolling pin, roll out the dough into a circle barely larger than the tart dish. Roll the crust onto the rolling pin to easily transfer it from the surface to the tart dish.
Roll out the crust onto the quinces. Tuck the edges between the quince slices and the buttered edges of the tart dish.
Bake for about 40 minutes. Then turn off the oven and let the tart sit on the rack in the oven for another 15 minutes with the oven door slightly open. The crust should be lightely golden and crisp to the touch. Run the blade of a knife around the edges to unstick the caramelized tart from the baking dish. Turn the tart over onto a serving platter. You might have to carefully rearrange or straighten some of the quince slices. Finish by adding a few leaves of fresh thyme. Serve and enjoy!