Apples from the Moon: Quince-Apple Pie

I am probably not the only one who looked at the September 2009 cover of Gourmet and thought, what IS that? An apple from the moon?

That strange fuzzy green fruit was a quince, of course, and as soon as my farmer’s market had some I scooped them up. I have to say, even if you don’t plan on making this pie, buying a few quinces is a good idea just for the scent. Sitting in a bowl in your kitchen, they give off a sweet perfume for days.

In the oven, they’re even better. This pie is a bit of a business, since quince are too tough to just throw into a pie filling. Roasting the sliced quince in a bit of orange juice softens them enough to toss with slivered apples and pile high into a pie crust.

Their taste is a little musky, a little floral, and not quite as sweet as they smell. It makes for a grown-up pie with slightly rosy, spicy filling. If you’re plotting out pies for Thanksgiving, I’d suggest roasting the quince a day ahead and storing in an airtight container in the roasting liquid overnight. With the help of a big food processor, you can whip up several pie crusts the day before as well and store in your fridge until you’re ready to roll them out.

Happy November, everyone!

Quince-Apple Pie
adapted from Kimberly Boyce and Leslie Brenner in the LA Times via The Wednesday Chef

5 medium quinces
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 vanilla bean
pie crust dough—enough for top and bottom crust (I followed this recipe from Sassy Radish)
5 medium apples
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 egg

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Peel, quarter, and core the quinces and slice into thin slices—be careful! These things aren’t that easy to cut. Place them in a large saute pan along with orange juice and 1/4 cup packed brown sugar. Slice open the vanilla bean and scrape the insides into the dish, and add pod to mixture. Stir to combine, cover with foil or pan lid, and roast for 1 hour.

2. Open the lid briefly and stir quinces. Roast an additional 45 minutes. Quince should be softened. Let pan cool. (If making ahead, chill quinces in liquid overnight.)

3. Divide the dough into two halves. Keep half in the refrigerator and roll out the other half into a 13-inch circle (1/4″ thick.) Fit it into a buttered 9″ pie plate. Cover loosely and chill in the fridge.

4. Peel, core, and slice the apples into 1/4″ thick slices. Toss with scant 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, the nutmeg, cloves, and cornstarch. Add vanilla extract, melted butter, and roasted quinces (without their liquid) and gently toss. Fill the pie, mounding the filling slightly in the center. Cover loosely and chill.

5. Roll out the remaining dough into a 13″ circle. Take the pie from the fridge and drape the dough over the filling. Fold the bottom crust dough over the filling and drop top crust dough over, folding into the crevice between the filling and the side of the plate. Crimp overhang around the edge of the pie and chill for 30 minutes to one hour.

6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk the egg. In another bowl (or a small shaker)mix the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Brush the surface of the pie with the egg (you may not use it all) and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Use a sharp knife to score a star design into the top (cut only halfway through the dough). Pierce a hole in the center of the star to allow steam to escape.

7. Bake until dark golden-brown and bubbling at the edges, 1 hour and 50 minutes to two hours.

Note: This pie dripped a little in my oven; you might want to put a cookie sheet on the rack beneath it to catch the drips.

In apple, autumn, baking, pie, pies, quince, thanksgiving

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