Friday, December 28, 2012

Sponge Cake with Quince & Crème Anglaise

Throughout history, quince have been associated with romance and commitment, a gift from Aphrodite.  By the early 18th century, this unique fruit had found its way to the United States.  Although quinces are a staple in savory Moroccan tagines, North African and Middle Eastern stews, Chinese teas and Hindu chutneys, in America, they are mostly poached in a light syrup, used as a pastry filling or made into a sweet paste and served as an accompaniment to cheese.

We are at the very end of quince season, so I thought I'd jump in before we forge our path into a new year.  It's hard to believe we've breezed right through the 2012 holiday season, but here we are.

This dessert is composed of an Olive Oil Sponge Cake that is one of the easiest and tastiest sponge cakes you'll ever make.  It's my very favorite of its kind.  The quince compote is served alongside the cake with a helping of crème anglaise, a classic French dessert sauce.  The contrasting combination of textures and lightness and richness is more than satisfying for fans of each.  If you don't have time for the sauce, vanilla ice cream is purely perfect as a delicious accompaniment.

Wishing you a really terrific New Year's celebration with close family and friends and sending heartfelt thanks for your lovely companionship here at my blog.  Let's set our tables in 2013 with great friends, sumptuous meals and beautiful pastry.  Cheers!!

Bench notes:
- Quince compote can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days.  The sponge cake can be made, wrapped in plastic and stored in an airtight container at room temperature one day ahead.  (It also freezes well.)  The crème anglaise can be made one day in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Be care when peeling and cutting into quinces.  They are very hard and will take steady but careful force.  Use a sharp chef's knife and a non-slip work surface and watch your fingers.  I find them easier to work with if they are first cut into quarters.
- I like a crème anglaise that is less rich than most recipes, so I use whole milk rather than cream.  If you prefer a richer sauce, you can substitute 1 cup half-and-half (or 1/2 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup milk).

Sponge Cake with Quince & Crème Anglaise
Makes 8 servings

Poached Quince
3 C water
3/4 C sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split
1/2 cinnamon stick
3" strip of lemon or orange peel, pith removed
2 - 3 quinces

Olive Oil Sponge Cake

Crème Anglaise
1 C whole milk
2 egg yolks
2 T + 2 t sugar
1/8 t - 1/4 t vanilla, to taste

For the quince compote, bring the water, sugar, vanilla bean, cinnamon stick and citrus peel to a boil.  Lower heat to a simmer.

Cut the quince into quarters and then peel and core them.  Cut them into 1/2" slices and place in the simmering syrup.  Bring to a boil.  Press a round of parchment paper onto the top of the mixture to hold in the steam.  Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the quinces are tender and have turned a deep rose color, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.  Cool and transfer the fruit and syrup to a clean airtight container and chill.

Prepare the sponge cake and cool completely.

For the crème anglaise, bring the milk to a simmer.  In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until thoroughly combined.  Add half the warm milk to the yolks and whisk together.  Add remaining milk and whisk thoroughly.  Pour the mixture into the saucepan and return to low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula until the mixture thickens slightly.  Do not boil.  The sauce is ready when it coats the back of the spoon and a finger traced through it leaves a clean track, about 3 - 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and immediately pour into a clean bowl to stop the cooking.  Add vanilla and cool.

To serve, plate a slice of cake and garnish with thin slices of quince and crème anglaise.


Zoë @rumandreason said...

Happy new year! Thank you so much for your fantastic blog and recipes - looking forward to much more baking in 2013!

pastry studio said...

Thanks so much, Zoe, and a very Happy New Year to you as well.


sunday said...

that looks really good

Anonymous said...

I didn't make the cake, but poached quince halves with the vanilla custard were really nice. Thanks!

waseem said...

very nice