Baked quinces with maple syrup

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Quinces are best enjoyed with cloves, cinnamon and star anise, writes Nigel Slater.

Quinces grace us with their presence throughout the winter. The fruit — deep yellow, fragrant — sit patiently in a blue and white bowl on the kitchen counter, waiting for me to turn them into jam. They are a cooks’ fruit, like gooseberries, damsons and rhubarb, and need both heat and sugar, or perhaps honey or maple syrup, to sweeten them.

I bake mine, but like to poach them first in a light syrup. A quince is only good when it is so soft it is on the verge of collapse. They respond to sugar but also cloves, cinnamon quills and star anise, the prettiest of all spices.

Serves 4

8 heaped Tbsp caster sugar

1 litre water

2 large quince

1 lemon, halved

3 cloves

4 Tbsp maple syrup

2 star anise


In a deep saucepan large enough to take the quinces, bring the sugar and water to the boil and add the cloves. Peel the quinces, rub all the cut sides with lemon, and halve them from stalk to base. Using a teaspoon, remove the core and seeds to leave a small, deep hollow.

Put the quince into the syrup — they should fit snugly — and lower the heat to a simmer. Leave them to cook till soft and thoroughly tender, a good 30-40 minutes, depending on their ripeness. Remove from the heat and set aside in their syrup. (You can bake them now, or refrigerate and cook later.)

Preheat the oven to 160degC. Using a large spoon, transfer the quinces to a roasting tin or baking dish, cut side up. Pour over 150ml of the cooking syrup and the maple syrup. Add the star anise and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the heat to 200degC and continue cooking for 10 minutes to reduce and slightly thicken the syrup.

— Guardian News & Media