Medlar and Quince Jelly, Quince Curd and Garibaldi Biscuits
Portion/Yield:Serves 6 -8
When Danny brought medlars to us for the first time I was absolutely flabbergasted. I had no idea what they looked like, but strangely I guessed what they were. Medlars are the most intriguing-looking fruits. Thy almost look like apples, but not quite, and are very hard and acidic, hence they require bletting before they can be eaten or used as an ingredient. The fruits become edible after they have been bletted by frost, or by leaving them to soften naturally. Bletting means that the fruit should be left to ripen beyond the ripening point, (i.e. leave the fruit until it reaches the first stages of decay).
Most of the time medlars are mixed with apples and turned into wine or jellies. However, as we had a large quantity of quinces donated to us I thought I’d give mixing the two together a go, and actually, the result is perfect. When you cook quinces for a long period of time the syrup turns pink, which gives this jelly an attractive colour.
The theme of the quinces continues by turning more quinces into a curd – the buttery curd complements the sweetness of the jelly and then the acidity of the crème fraîche balances the dish.
This garibaldi recipe has been with me for many years. It can be fairly temperamental and behaves best during the winter. If the dough gets a bit warm, it sticks and makes a bit of a mess (I know as I’ve had some ‘sticky garibaldi moments’ in the past!). My top tip is to shape it into sausages or logs, wrap in cling film and let it chill for at least 1 hour before cutting and baking. Then, take it from the fridge when you’re ready, cut it into discs and bake immediately. If you have baked a few too many of these delicious biscuits, just keep the leftover baked biscuits in an airtight container, or alternatively, bake what you need and keep the remaining dough in the fridge or freezer (see Chef’s Notes). I sprinkle the warm baked biscuits with caster sugar to give them even more of a homemade look.
Ingredients & Method
For the medlar and quince jelly
- 1kg quinces
- 1kg medlars, bletted (very ripe)
- juice of 1 lemon
- caster sugar (measure the sugar after the juice is made, measuring 7 parts sugar to 10 parts fruit liquid – see method)
For the garibaldi biscuits
- 150g unsalted butter, softened
- 150g icing sugar
- 1 large egg
- 200g plain flour
- 200g currants
- caster sugar, for sprinkling
For the quince curd
- 400g (prepared weight) quinces, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces
- 125g caster sugar
- 4 large free-range or organic eggs
- 65ml lemon juice
- a pinch of table salt
- 75g chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For the crème fraîche foam (espuma)
- 100ml double cream
- 50g caster sugar
- 2 leaves of gelatine, bloomed (softened in cold water, then squeezed gently to remove excess water)
- 300g crème fraîche
To decorate (optional)
- freeze-dried raspberry pieces and finely pared orange zest
For the medlar and quince jelly, wash and peel the quinces, then cut them into smaller pieces. Wash and chop the medlars into quarters. Place the quinces and medlars in a saucepan with the lemon juice and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat, pour the mixture into a jelly bag set over a bowl and leave to hang overnight in a cool room.
The next day, measure the juice into a saucepan and then measure the caster sugar into the pan too, measuring 10 parts fruit liquid to 7 parts caster sugar. Heat gently, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then bring to a rapid simmer over a high heat. Skim the impurities from the surface, then reduce the heat to medium but keep the mixture at a rapid simmer until it reaches a temperature of 107°C. Remove from the heat and let the jelly cool slightly, then pour it into your 6–8 chosen dessert or serving glasses, dividing evenly. Leave to cool, then transfer to the fridge and leave to set overnight.
Meanwhile, for the garibaldi biscuits, cream the butter and icing sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until well mixed. Sift the flour over the creamed mixture and add the currants, then mix it all together but do not overwork the mixture. Divide the mixture in half and place each portion on a piece of cling film, then roll and shape into a sausage or log shape (about 3cm diameter), wrapping in the cling film as you go. Chill the logs of biscuit dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour before cutting and baking (see Chef’s Notes).
Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas Mark 3 and line 2 baking sheets with non-stick baking paper. Cut the biscuit dough rolls into 1cm-thick slices (either removing the cling film pre or post cutting), then space them evenly on the prepared baking sheets. Bake in the oven for 12–15 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the garibaldi biscuits with caster sugar, then transfer them to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Once cool, store the garibaldi biscuits in an airtight container in a cool, dry cupboard and use within 1 week.
In the meantime, for the quince curd, place the chopped quinces in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Cover, bring to the boil over a medium heat, then cook until the quinces are soft, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain the cooked quinces, reserving the fruit and discarding the cooking liquid. Purée the cooked quinces (while still warm) to a smooth pulp, then scrape the warm quince purée in to the top part of a double boiler.
In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, lemon juice and salt to combine. Add the egg mixture to the quince purée in the double boiler, then heat gently, stirring continuously, for about 20 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Do not overheat otherwise the mixture might curdle. Once the curd is ready, remove from the heat, then gradually whisk in the butter, piece by piece, until the butter has melted and the curd is smooth and glossy. Pour the curd into hot, sterilised jars and seal, then leave to cool completely before storing in the fridge. Use within 2 weeks; once opened, use within 3 days. To make the quince curd using a Thermomix, see Chef’s Notes.
For the crème fraîche foam (also known as espuma), place the cream, sugar and bloomed gelatine in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water (making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water underneath) and stir until the sugar and gelatine have dissolved. Remove the bowl from the heat, add the crème fraîche and stir to mix. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve, then pour it into a 1 litre cream whipper. Secure the lid, charge with 2 gas pellets, shake vigorously, then leave to rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. When you are ready to use the foam, shake the cream gun vigorously to loosen the mixture.
To serve, spoon some quince curd onto each jelly, followed by a squirt of the crème fraîche foam. Decorate the tops with a sprinkling of freeze-dried raspberry pieces and finely pared orange zest, if you like. Serve immediately with a couple of the garibaldi biscuits served alongside each dessert.
The wrapped unbaked garibaldi dough will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months. If frozen, when required, simply defrost the dough in the fridge overnight, then cut into slices and bake as directed above.
Serve any leftover quince curd on hot toasted crumpets or toast, or in pre-baked (cold) individual pastry tartlet cases, or with fresh scones for afternoon tea.
Thermomix method for the quince curd
Cook the quinces as above in water until tender, drain the cooked fruit and place in the Thermomix bowl. Purée until smooth for 1½ minutes on speed 10, then scrape down the sides. Add the sugar, eggs, lemon juice and salt and blend for 30 seconds on speed 10. Insert the butterfly whisk, set the timer for 10 minutes at 60°C on speed 1. Once cooked, add the butter, and whisk for 30 seconds on speed 4. Remove the butterfly whisk and turn to speed 10 for 1 minute. Jar and store as above.