Here’s a recipe for a poached quince upside down cake that I have made a few of times now and it just keeps getting better each time as I tweak this and that…
For the poached quinces:
6 medium to large fresh quinces
1 bottle (750 ml) dry white wine or sparkling wine (I used sparkling)
3-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 3-inch strips fresh orange zest (use a vegetable peeler and avoid the white pith)
For the cake:
Nonstick cooking spray
8-1/2 oz. (1-3/4 cups plus 2 Tbs.) unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¾ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. table salt
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
2 oz. (½ cup) almond flour
5 oz. (10 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
3 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Unsweetened whipped cream, and/or GOOD vanilla ice-cream for serving (optional)
Poach the quinces:
Peel the quinces, trim the ends, and cut them in half from stem to base, remove the cores (I didn’t the first time and found it difficult to remove them later when the quinces were soft – thus you can see some cores in the first few pics).
Place the quince halves in a medium-large saucepan and add the entire bottle of sparkling wine, the granulated sugar and the orange zest. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and then lower the heat to a bare simmer. Weight the quinces down with a small plate to submerge them in the liquid and poach until pink and tender, approx 50 to 60 minutes (but check as it will depend on the size of your quinces).
Cool the quinces in the syrup. Transfer the quinces and syrup to a container and refrigerate overnight ( Or you can freeze to use at a later time. I used half the quinces I poached for the first cake the next day and froze the rest to use for another cake a couple of months later).
Make the cake:
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Coat a 10-inch round cake pan with the cooking spray, line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, and lightly coat the paper.
Using a sharp knife, halve each quince and run the knife under the cores to remove them. Cut the quinces into 1/8th-inch-thick slices. Arrange the slices in slightly overlapping concentric circles in the the prepared cake pan until the bottom of the pan is covered. (You may have some slices of quince leftover to enjoy with cheese). Pour 3/4 cup of the poaching syrup over the quinces, reserving the rest.
Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cloves into a medium bowl. Whisk in the almond flour and set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, dark brown sugar, and honey on medium speed until creamy smooth and light, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed to combine them, then turn the speed to medium and beat the batter until smooth, thick and emulsified, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl, about 1 minute. Spoon the batter over the quinces in the pan, and with an offset spatula, gently and evenly spread it to the sides of the pan, smoothing the surface.
Bake the cake, rotating it 180 degrees after 20 minutes to ensure even browning, until it springs back lightly when touched, and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 15 to 20 minutes. While still warm, run a knife around the sides of the cake and invert the cake gently onto the rack to cool completely. If any slices of quince break or are dislodged, gently place them back on the cake with a butter knife.
Before serving the cake, brush the surface of the quince with some of the leftover poaching syrup. Serve the cake with dollops of the unsweetened whipped cream (if using)
Make Ahead Tips
The quinces can be poached up to 2 weeks ahead and refrigerated in their poaching liquid or frozen for a few months.