Quinces are big news in Montenegro, they love them and quince jam/marmalade is a staple in every store cupboard. Looking like something between an apple and a knobbly pear, don't be tempted to eat one raw, they're way too tart for that and you'll give yourself the sour version of brain freeze. A dash of dark brown sugar however and a little cooking and they transform into something very special indeed.
In England the quince season is already over, October to December is prime time but you can still just about find them now if you're savvy. Specialist greengrocers, farmers markets, or a neighbour with a quince tree are all possible sources. I went online for mine, www.finefoodspecialist.co.uk stock them (amongst other goodies that you should check out), they were delivered a day after order.
Admission time, the quince tart is Montenegrin, the addition of pears on top, not so. Not to say that quince and pear have never been turned into a pie in Montenegro, they may well have been, I just haven't seen any evidence of this in my research. I apologise, I couldn't resist, in my eyes the pear and the quince were born to be together. If you want to go down the authentic route, do away with the pear and keep it 100% quince.
- 200g plain flour
- 100g unsalted butter diced
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- Ice cold water
- 1kg quince (about 3 ...they're heavy)
- 3 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 100ml water
- Pinch of ground cardamom
- Two pears
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 25g butter
- 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
NUTRITIONAL CONTENT PER PORTION
- Calories | 635
- Fat | 22.3
Serves | 4
Prep Time | 50 minutes including chilling time
Cooking Time | 45 minutes
- To make the pastry. In a large bowl sift in the flour and stir in the sugar rub in the butter until you have fine breadcrumbs. Try to work quickly and keep your hands cold to avoid the butter from melting. I sometimes run my hands under an ice cold tap and dry them if they get too hot. If you have a food processor even better.
- Stir in the egg yolk and enough water to bring the dough into a ball. The less you can get away with adding the better. Cover with clingfilm/saran wrap and put in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
- Preheat your oven to 200˚c
- Meanwhile peel and roughly grate the quince. Add to a saucepan together with the sugar and cardamon and simmer for 15 minutes until the quince has cooked through..
- Roll out the pastry on a floured surface and use it to line four mini spring release tart/quiche tins. Prick with a fork, line with baking parchment and fill with baking beans (or rice) to weigh the pastry down.
- Bake for 15 minutes then remove the parchment and baking beans and return to the oven for a further five minutes.
- Spoon the quince into the pastry cases.
- OPTIONAL TOPPING slice the pears thinly and steep in lemon juice to stop them from browning. Arrange on top of the tarts. Heat the butter and sugar in a saucepan until fully melted and dissolved. Paint over the pears with a pastry brush.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until golden.
Based on a recipe found in Ukusi Jezera found at www.montenegro.travel