Have Quince? Make This! (Apples and/or Pears would also work)

A bunch of leftover-sliced baguette, a bit of ricotta and a bowl of quince turned into this magic yesterday. The idea for this cook-with-what-you-have Ofenschlupfer (say that five-times in a row, quickly:) came to me as I was biking home from a bi-monthly breakfast I cook, with said leftover baguette in tow. Ofenschlupfer is a German variation of bread pudding and I grew up eating it in the fall made with apples. But quince! Quince, with all their tart, fragrant, wonder take this to another level. I just had a bowl of it for lunch. I could not help myself!

I tossed this together without referencing any Ofenschlupfer recipes but the basic combination of egg, milk, sugar, spices, bread, and fruit is pretty forgiving and you could just as easily dice stale bread instead of keeping the slices whole, substitute apples and or pears (bosc or other variety that will holds its shape when cooked) and change up the spices. But do be on the look-out for quince!

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Quince Ricotta Ofenschlupfer (Bread Pudding)

 

For the quince:

4 medium quince, cored and peeled and cut into chunks (quince are very hard and this takes a bit of doing but it’s worth it, I promise)

2 strips of lemon peel (use a vegetable peeler)

2/3 cup water

1/3 cup sugar

 

For the custard:

3 large eggs

1 cup (whole) milk

2/3 cup ricotta (that’s what I had leftover–you could add up to 1 cup for a slightly richer version)

Zest of half a lemon (or whatever you didn’t use for the quince), finely grated

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Couple pinches salt

 

8 ounces sliced bread/baguette (nothing too whole wheat or dense here)

Butter to grease the pan

2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

2 tablespoons turbinado (or regular granulated) sugar

 

Preheat oven to 350

 

Put the quince, strips of lemon peel, 1/3 cup sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook gently, covered, for about 7-10 minutes until the quince are just tender but still holding their shape. The time may vary a bit depending on your quince but check often since some turn to mush quickly.

 

In a medium bowl whisk the eggs with the milk, ricotta, grated lemon zest, spices, sugar and salt.

 

Generously butter an 8 x 13 or comparable baking dish. Put a single layer of bread in the dish. Pour half the custard over the bread and top it with half the quince. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, finishing with quince and drizzle any liquid from the quince over the top. Gently press down on the whole thing to make sure the bread is soaked. Dot top with butter and sprinkle evenly with the sugar. Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 30-40 minutes, but check a bit earlier, until the custard is almost set. Remove foil and bake until set, finishing under the broiler for a little more browning. Serve hot or warm for dessert or breakfast, lunch or dinner!

 

 

Baked Apples

Here are the key ingredients for this dish though any number of substitutions for the nuts and dried fruit would be great . . .raisins, dried cranberries, cherries or apricots; almonds, pecans. . . .

I’m testing all kinds of healthy desserts for part of a series of classes I’m teaching at Columbia Sportswear this fall. I know ‘healthy’ is a terribly subjective term but I’m focusing on dishes that traditionally don’t use lots of refined sugars and flours (like these Baked Apples) or adapting ones that do, to use less of those things.

Baked Apples filled with walnuts, dates, a little butter and coconut sugar.

It’s a lot of  fun and I loved these apples I made last night for our dessert and loved them even more for breakfast this morning with Greek yogurt and maple syrup. Many European countries have a variation of this dish (which is also delicious with pears) and I grew up with some German renditions of this. The below recipe was loosely inspired by Dorie Greenspan’s in Around my French Table, however, I simplified it significantly. Enjoy!

I’m also having fun testing soups these days in preparation for Fall Soup Class which still has a few spots. So far I think there will be a pureed chickpea soup with cumin and lemon; a leek soup; a potato chowder and a soup with different kinds of beans and greens!

Breakfast of baked apples topped with Greek yogurt and maple syrup.

Baked Apples 

4 apples, cut in half, peeled and cored (or pears or quince)

4 tablespoons chopped walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts or pecans

1/2 cup of chopped dried fruit (dates, raisins, dried cranberries, cherries, prunes or apricots)

2-3 tablespoons coconut sugar or brown sugar (or 1 -2 tablespoons honey)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, cut into small pieces

3/4 cup apple cider or water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place the apples cut side up in the 9 x 13 baking pan. They should be fairly snug so they stay upright and hold their filling. Put a small piece of butter into each hollow (where the core used to be)

In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon, sugar (or honey), salt and nuts and dried fruit. Divide this mixture evenly among the hollows of the 8 halves. Dot each half with another piece of butter. Pour the cider or water into the pan and sprinkle the remaining butter onto the liquid in the pan.

Bake until the apples are nice and tender (but not falling apart) which can be anywhere from 45 – 70 minutes depending on the size and kind of your apple. Baste with the buttery juice every 15 minutes.

Let cool for a few minutes before eating or eat at room temperature as is or with Greek yogurt, sour cream, creme fraiche or whipped cream.