Quince Lattice Tart
Last week I harvested the quinces from my tree in San Francisco. It was a good year. I have been fascinated by this ancient fruit for a long time and have written several recipes, both sweet and savory, that showcase its special taste.
A few days ago I got an e-mail titled “Quince tarts and a fan letter.” It was from a woman who has my first book, Bread and Chocolate, My Food Life In and Around San Francisco. After owning the book for many years she recently discovered the quince chapter. Now she is on a mission. She must make a quince tart. Never mind that she lives in Texas where it’s hot and muggy (not ideal conditions to turn on an oven) and she doesn’t know if she can find the fruit. Could I help her? Her request pushed me to write down this recipe. We made hundreds of these tarts every fall at my bakery. They are the essence of autumn.
One 9-inch lattice tart
For the quinces:
2 large, ripe quinces (about 1-1/2 pounds) peeled, cored, and cut into rough chunks
1 small unpeeled orange, ends removed, sliced and seeded
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (3-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (2-1/2 ounces) water
For the tart dough:
10 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons (1 ounce) blanched almonds, ground fairly fine, but not to a powder
¾ cup (2-2/3 ounces) unsifted powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
1-¾ cup (8-3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
Prepare the quince filling:
Put the quince chunks in a heavy casserole. Add the orange, spices, sugar, and water. Cut a disk of parchment paper the same size as the casserole. Bring to a simmer. Put the parchment paper on top of the fruit, pressing down so that it adheres to the fruit. Cover and cook at a very low simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the filling cool overnight, still in the covered casserole, on the kitchen counter. The next day, return the casserole to the stove and cook again at a very low simmer for 20 minutes. Now the quinces should be a deep peach color. Remove from the heat and cool. Chop the filling into rough pieces by hand. Refrigerate if not using immediately. This can be made several days in advance.
Make the tart dough:
Put the butter in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer and beat it with the paddle to soften it. Add the almonds, powdered sugar, salt, vanilla and egg. Beat until well blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Turn off the mixer. Add the flour. Mix on low speed until the ingredients are just combined. The dough will be soft and sticky.
Scrap the dough from the bowl onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Enclose it in the plastic wrap then flatten it to a 1-inch thickness. Refrigerate it until it is firm, about one hour. It can be refrigerated for several days or frozen for two months.
Bake the tart:
Remove the tart dough from the refrigerator. Put it on a lightly floured work surface, and if it is very cold, beat it a few times with a rolling pin to soften it. Roll it into a disk 1/8-inch thick and slightly larger than the tart pan. As you roll, pick up the dough after each stroke and turn it a quarter of a turn to make sure that it isn’t sticking to the work surface.
Roll about half of the dough onto the rolling pin, lift the entire piece from the work surface and unroll it over the tart pan. Press it firmly into the bottom edges and sides of the pan then trim away the excess. Refrigerate or freeze it until firm. Roll the remaining dough into a rectangle about 9 by 4 ½ inches and 1/8-inch thick. Transfer it to a parchment-lined cookie sheet and refrigerate until slightly firm. This dough will be used for the lattice.
Position a rack on the middle shelf and preheat the oven to 375°F.
Spoon the quince filling into the dough-lined tart pan. Remove the dough reserved for lattice from the refrigerator. Using a fluted pastry wheel, cut it into six 3/4-inch wide strips. Place three strips of dough over the fruit, trimming them at the edge where they meet the bottom dough. Place and trim three more strips at a diagonal to the first three. Bake the tart until the quince is bubbling and the dough is browned, 35 to 40 minutes.
Cool the tart. Remove it from the pan, and slide it onto a serving platter.