I got three lovely quince last week and since then they had been sitting on my kitchen table spreading their wonderful aroma. Quince are an odd fruit. Depending on the type, they can be tough, and at least the ones that grow in Central Europe can’t be eaten raw. Maybe that’s the reason why they have become quite rare. But they have a distinctive, slightly tart flavor, which I found perfect for a savoury quince galette. Usually we (meaning our grandmothers) use quince for jams or jellies, or to make what is called quince-bread, aka membrillo. But I have to say, this galette was sooo good. The quince and the goat cheese, plus some dried thyme and fresh lavender – loved it. I made just a small galette, as the quantities below would show (using a great Food52 galette pastry recipe), so in the end I used up only one quince. But while you’re at it, poach some more and eat the rest with yoghurt for breakfast. Or in a salad. Or in savoury dishes, like a stew for example. Or in a sweet tart? So many options :)
P.S.: Update: if you don’t have quince, you could also use pears for this – in that case, no need to poach or even peel anything, you could just core them, slice them, and use them right away.
Ingredients (for one relatively small galette):
200 grams (1.5 cups) of all-purpose flour
80 grams (three ounces) of unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
A few tablespoons of ice water
Half a teaspoon of salt
One big quince
Six teaspoons of brown sugar
One slice of creamy goat cheese
A pinch of dried thyme (you could substitute with rosemary or sage)
A few lavender petals (optional – fresh are best here)
Start with preparing the pastry dough. In a bowl, mix flour, salt and the butter cubes. You’ll get crumbles, with small pieces of butter. Now add some ice water – start with three tablespoons, work them into the dough and add more if the dough doesn’t yet stick together. You should have a smooth and soft dough. Shape it into a ball and place it in the fridge.
Cut the quince in quarters and peel and core them. Then cut the quince quarters into thin slices. Immediately submerge the slices in a bowl with water and lemon juice, to prevent them from browning. Add the quince slices with the lemon water to a saucepan and bring them to a boil. Stir in four teaspoons of brown sugar. When the quince start boiling, lower the heat and let them simmer for about twenty minutes. They should be soft but not mushy.
While the quince are cooking, shape the dough into a disc and roll it out on a flat surface. I find it easiest to do this already on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, so that the dough is already where it belongs. The dough should be about three millimeters high I would say. Now spread the goat cheese on the flat pastry, leaving a rim around the edges. Sprinkle a little thyme onto the goat cheese, and a pinch of salt.
Take the quince off the stove and transfer them to a bowl, using a slotted spoon. Save the poaching liquid. Let the quince cool off for a moment, then spread them onto the pastry, going round in a circle with the slices. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 F).
Gently fold the rim of the pastry towards the center. It doesn’t have to be perfectly shaped, the nice thing about a galette like this is that it’s supposed to look ‘rustic’: it can come in all shapes and sizes, so no worries if the pastry doesn’t have a proper round shape or if the edges are scruffy.
Sprinkle about two teaspoons of brown sugar onto the galette, and a big pinch of salt. Add more dried thyme, and drizzle a few teaspoons of the poaching liquid onto the fruit. Now bake the galette in the pre-heated oven on the middle rack. The total baking time will be about 35 minutes. After fifteen minutes of baking, take out the galette, add a few dollops of goat cheese on top, and sprinkle it with the lavender petals. Then put it back in the oven. Watch the galette to make sure it doesn’t burn.
This is best served fresh and hot, sprinkled with a little freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy!