The quince always conjures up images of medieval times, of velvets and jesters and whole roasted animals; or in present day, curling pages of recipes for “preserves”, or “jellies”, or other antiquated term. At least it did until I ate my mother-in-laws “jam” and in the one tiny spoonful she coaxed into my mouth she made me a quince convert completely. Having banished Henry VII from fruity references, I began to take an interest in the fruit, making jam from it myself and discovered the sensory balanced delight of quinces, pink and molten having been bake-steamed, pricked with cloves and tinged with cinnammon, splashed with a touch of rose water.
Pleasing though it looks hanging on the tree, yellow and firm, its simple self needs a little help to bring out the best of this vitamin packed fruit. Quince desert, or Ayva Tatlısı, is the middle ages stirred into exotic, is warming and edgy and comforting whatever the season. It is, most of all, a dish perfect for now and just what we were searching for here, in Iznik, Nicea, whose heritage holds its present in its past and whose walls allow tweaking of what lies within. A wonderful base to a dish of ingredients mulled around a bit.
3 quince – halved, cored and peeled
juice of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon rose water
1 vanilla pod
hearty dash of ground cinammon
Toss the sugar with the cinammon and rub into the quince halves. Place the fruit into an oven-proof bowl, pour over the lemon juice, enough water to cover. Add the clove and vanilla. Cover the dish with foil, bake in a medium oven (160) for 40-50 minutes until the quince is pink & soft. Leave to cool, reserving any remaining liquid to spoon over before serving.
Eat it as it is, Turkish style with a dollop of thick clotted cream, or with ice-cream whilst warm for an utterly indulgent treat.