I always feel in November-December time that I don’t cook enough with quince. They are massively underrated fruits, and I don’t understand why: their flavour is so delicate, they make wonderful jams, delicious cakes, flavoursome soups, or sweet and spicy main dishes. It can’t get more versatile than this.
This quince polenta cake brings together two very popular Romanian ingredients – polenta being part of our national identity. You will have dense and moist cake, a filling that is not too sweet, all coming together in a ‘melt-in-the-mouth’ sensation.
I use a home made quince jam, and a quince syrup, with a bit of orange.
This is how you make it:
For the polenta cake:
200 g unsalted butter at room temperature
200 g sugar
3 large eggs
200 g ground almonds
100 g coarse polenta
1 teaspoon baking powder
For the quince jam:
50 ml honey
For the quince syrup:
3-4 slices of quince
First start by greasing and lining a 18cm diameter springform cake tin. Preheat the oven to 170C.
Make the jam: put all ingredients in a deep pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until very soft, and the fruits are coming apart. You can mash them a bit, too. You know that it’s ready when they all bind together, and the syrup is thick. Set aside.
Make the cake: beat the eggs with the butter until creamy. Add the eggs one by one (it may look like the mixture is splitting, but don’t worry). Add the baking powder, ground almonds and polenta, and mix together.
Bringing it together: put half of the cake mixture in the tin. Add a generous layer of the quince jam. Add the final layer of the cake, using up all of the mixture. Put the cake in the oven on a baking sheet for 50-60 minutes. After 40 minutes, you can cover it with tin foil to avoid a burnt top.
Make the quince syrup: while the cake is baking, bring the water with the sugar to a slow simmer, and add the slices of quince. Leave to infuse for 20 minutes, then set aside.
When the cake is ready, set aside to cool in the tin for 20 minutes. Using a long bamboo skewer, pierce the cake all over the surface, pushing the skewer almost to the bottom of the cake. Be very gentle. After the 20 minutes have gone, spoon over the quince syrup, very carefully, going over again and again.
Leave to cool completely, then take out of the tin, remove the baking paper and serve.