Baked quince with polenta shortbread

Baked quince and polenta shortbread stacks.
Baked quince and polenta shortbread stacks. Photo: Quentin Jones

Quince is the seasoned preserver's fruit of choice because the fruit's phenomenally high pectin content naturally sets jellies, jams, conserves and marmalades. The

Ingredients

500g sugar

4 quinces

1 vanilla pod, halved

peel from 2 mandarins

2 star anise

80ml cream

50g castor sugar

80g mascarpone

icing sugar, for dusting

For polenta shortbread

125g plain flour

80g fine polenta

100g blanched almond meal

80g castor sugar

1 egg yolk

juice of ½ lemon

grated rind of 1 lemon

60g butter, melted

50g duck or goose fat, melted (or 50ml extra virgin olive oil)

1 tsp vanilla essence

Method

For the baked quince

Place sugar in a pot with 1.5 litres water and bring to the boil then stir well to dissolve. Preheat oven to 130C. Wash, peel and quarter quinces, removing cores. Place quince peel and cores on clean muslin and tie securely.

In a baking dish, place sugar solution with quince, muslin bag, vanilla pod, mandarin peel and star anise. Bake for 4-5 hours, until quince is deeply coloured and tender. Remove and cool in liquid, which stores well in fridge. 

For polenta shortbread

Preheat oven to 180C. Mix flour, polenta, almond meal, sugar, yolk, lemon juice and rind. Incorporate butter, duck fat and vanilla.

Using an egg ring, shape into 5mm-thick rounds on non-stick baking tray. Bake for 30 minutes until golden but not dark. Cool before moving.

To assemble

Whip cream with castor sugar to form peaks. Fold into mascarpone. To serve, layer polenta shortbread with mascarpone cream and sliced quince. Dust with icing sugar.