On the way to work the other day, I was sat at traffic lights when I was aware that there, in the hedge to a piece of common land, were several small golden globes. I suddenly woke up to the fact that I was, in all probability, looking at a quince bush. There was a slight possibility that they were apples, but either way they required further inspection. So, when I left for home, I had a quick peep and sure enough they were quince. It didn't take very long at all for me to pick them and pop them into a bag (I always carry a plastic bag, just in case of foraging bounty!) and away home they came.
I still had half of Laura's quinces in the freezer, so what to do with these? I had found all kinds of savoury uses for quince, but wanted to explore using them in a sweet context. They are quite tongue-curlingly sour, so my mind began to travel down the lemon route. After all, lemons are equally sour yet we use them in lemon tarts, lemon drizzle cakes - all kinds of sweet contexts.
I had a recipe for lemon drizzle muffins, which fitted with the ingredients I had to hand. However, I felt that the quince on their own might not have enough "oomph" to stand up to the relatively rough handling that a muffin mix receives, although there would certainly be enough sugar involved. So I remembered my recipe for carrot & apple muffins. Quince goes admirably well with apple, they have a certain similarity in flavour. Hence, the Quince, Carrot & Apple Muffins were born.
A tip for grating quinces - don't cut them into quarters and try to remove the core (as I began to do), instead just grate them down to the core (which is so hard, it doesn't grate easily by hand anyway), turn and grate again, turn and grate again, until the quince is done.
The muffins are truly delicious, with a light fluffy texture that retains the moistness of the fruit & carrot content and a very definite flavour of quince which lends them a mysterious air. Perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.
QUINCE, CARROT & APPLE MUFFINS (makes 12 medium sized muffins)
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
half a cup of raisins, or sultanas, or mixed fruit
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup grated apple
1 cup grated quince
three quarters of a cup of vegetable oil
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180deg/gas mark 4. Mix all the dry ingredients together, then add the wet fruit and carrot and stir briefly with a fork, to combine.
2. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and oil together, then add to the flour/fruit mixture and stir lightly with a fork. You're not looking for a well-mixed texture, as muffins seem to benefit from the odd lump and bump!
3. Spoon into muffin cases (silicone versions are great) and bake for 20-25 mins or until a wooden skewer comes out clean.
4. Try not to eat them all before they've cooled down.