We didn't harvest any fruit from our quince tree this year, but when I saw their golden forms at the green grocer's I added a few to my shopping basket. My taste buds were set on baked quinces to add to porridge, but then I read Michelle Crawford's recipe for Quince and Walnut Cake and I was intrigued. Without walnuts within 60km, I substituted pistachios after consulting with my foodie neighbour Teresa (pecans could work well too). The green and russet colour of pistachios on cakes is so appealing, and this recipe calls for toasting them in icing sugar and sprinkling with salt flakes, making them deliciously crunchy and sweet. The baked quinces folded into the batter before cooking create a moist fruit cake texture, finished with everyone's favourite cream cheese icing. If you have a quince tree, know a friend with quinces to spare, or lock eyes on them when you're shopping, scoop them up and try this recipe to delight your friends, family and you.
3 large eggs, 80ml milk, 200g golden castor sugar, 350ml vegetable oil, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 380g plain flour, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, pinch ground cloves, 500g poached quince, diced, 80g pistachios, toasted and chopped (original recipe uses walnuts).
Salty sugared pistachios
120g pistachios, 60g icing sugar, 1 tsp salt flakes
Cream Cheese Frosting
250g block cream cheese, 60g salted butter, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 250g icing sugar
Method: Preheat oven to 170C and grease and line a 20cm spring form cake tin.
Whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, oil and vanilla in a large bowl. In a second bowl, whisk together flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cloves, then add flour mixture to wet mixture and stir until well combined. Add quince and pistachios to batter and fold through, then spoon batter into prepared tin and bake for about 1 1/2 hours until cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and a skewer inserted in the top comes out clean. Allow to cool, then remove from the tin and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
While the cake is cooling, line a baking tray with baking paper. Place pistachios and sugar in a medium frypan over low heat and toss the pistachios to coat as the sugar melts. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the nuts onto the baking tray and spread so they don't stick together, sprinkle with salt, and allow to cool. Try not to eat all the sugar coated pistachios before decorating the cake.
For the icing, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a large bowl with a mixer until well blended. Add icing sugar in batches, beating after each addition until well combined. When the cake has cooled frost the top thickly with cream cheese icing and sprinkle with chopped salty sugared coated pistachios.
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