This is my first cake in quite some time, as Christmas finally provided me with both an electric mixer and a cake tin, formerly lacking in my Danish kitchen collection. I also received Jerusalem, Ottolenghi’s new cookbook as part of my Christmas bounty and with it came the inspiration to decamp to Aarhus’s friendly neighbourhood Middle Eastern Bazaar in search of the many, many things Danish shops can’t provide. We came home laden with sumac, dates, the best part of a lamb, baklava and a kilo of quince. A few days later, the buzz wore off and I realised I had no idea what one does with a quince. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall provided some answers, I ignored half of them, and voilà, quince and ginger cake. The boy declared this ‘maybe the best cake I’ve had this year’. Possibly the worst compliment I have ever received on January 8th. But it really is lovely, it’s fragrant and has an excellent crumb. The recipe looks more complicated than it really is. Prepping the poached quince takes about 10 minutes but then you can just leave it on the stove to bubble away and check in occasionally between reading about the mechanism of share transfers, or hopefully something more fun. The jelly leftover from the quince’s pectin exuberance is nice on bread as an alternative to jam, or served with strong cheese. Makes 0ne 24cm cake.
For the poached quince
- 2 quince, peeled, quartered, cored and thinly sliced
- 160g caster sugar
- 160g very liquid honey
- 1 small thumb fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced
- Juice of ½ lemon
For the cake
- 150g butter, softened, plus a little more for greasing
- 250g plain flour
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 heaped tsp baking powder
- Good pinch of salt
- 180g caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 100g creme fraiche (I used low-fat and it worked out fine)
For the syrup
- 3 tbsp quince poaching liquid
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- Put all the ingredients for the poached quince into a saucepan, bring to the boil, and leave to simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours until it is a rich pink amber colour.
- Meanwhile, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- In another bowl sift the flour,salt, baking powder, ginger and cardamom together.
- Add the eggs one at a time to the butter and sugar and mix well.
- Stir in the creme fraiche and flour gradually into the egg/butter/sugar mix.
- When the quince is done, remove from the syrup and continue to heat the syrup until reduced a bit.
- Add the quince to the cake mixture and stir well.
- Pour into a greased lined 24cm cake tin.
- Bake at 170C for approximately one hour (mine took slightly less, the recipe said 1.5 hours, go figure) checking from about 45 minutes onward to make sure it isn’t burning.
- Poke some holes in the cake with a fork, and brush with the top with quince syrup (you will have loads leftover, store it in a jar and it makes a great accompaniment to blue cheese or by itself on bread).
- Top with the granulated sugar and leave to cool in the cake tin for 20 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.