Saturday, February 4, 2012

Quince Cake: When Ugly is Better

Keats wrote:
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: 
Its lovliness increases; it will never 
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep 
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep 
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

And except for the lovliness aspect of his poem Endymion, I'm pretty sure he could have been talking about a quince cake.

Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all, 
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall

I'm picking up what you're throwing down, Mr. Keats.  This ugly cake is the epitome of Southern comfort food.  It's made simply using any good butter cake batter and quince preserves or jelly.  Quince preserves aren't my favorite since there's been no milk cow to supply clotted cream on a regular basis for a good many years.  Quince jelly provides the sweet tartness for a very rich dessert that takes far less time to put together than imaginable.

Of all the unhealthy and o'er-darkn'd ways 
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all... 

Yes, sir, unhealthy in spite of all.  If it doesn't satisfy your sweet tooth there's not a thing more, except possibly chocolate, that will.  This is one of those very rich cakes.  You know the kind...half of the people you know will say, "OOOh, don't cut me but a little piece of that, it's too rich for me!"  It's a Southern dessert.  Of course it's rich.

So annnnyways... Mrs. Smith used to cook her cake on top of the stove.  Sometimes, too, she'd bake it in the cast iron skillets used stove top.  Stove top is better:  the cake has that element of buttery-ness not in the baked cake.  Stove top cooking is what makes it look like a stack of huge honkin' pancakes or crepes-on-roids.  And when slathered generously with quince jelly??  Ohhh my!

It's an easy cake to make, the most difficult part is regulating the heat of the skillets/griddles.  Since the cake batter is thicker than pancake batter the pans need to be a little cooler, but not much.  The next difficult thing is flipping the cake from one skillet to another.  It takes two hands so there's not a photo of the mess that landed on the floor the second time the process.  

It goes very quickly so be watching!

 The overhead light is out.  I had to use the flash on the camera,
which means you can't see the medium-low flame under the griddle
and skillet.
 There's a lullaby of a buttery sizzle going on in both pans.
The back burner is a little lower than the front one,
just enough to keep that skillet warm.
 It's a butter cake that's going to get pan cooked in one
cup increments.
 That's one cup of cake batter measured and put/spread
into a hot skillet.
 See?  It really is like cooking a huge pancake.  The cake batter, though
won't cook exactly like a pancake which is why you need two skillets/griddles.
 Check around the edges.  
 It's the tricky part!
 Tadadaaaaa!  Don't worry about perfection;  plenty of that in heaven.
Let the spill cook.  It's very easy to remedy  when this layer
is cooked.
 It's an old fashioned cake.  It's an old fashioned cake plate.
Flip the cooked layer right onto the plate.
 Get a second layer started cooking after wiping out the pans and
reslathering with butter.
 Spoon approximately one-third of a cup of quince jelly on the warm cake.
 Spread to the edges.  The jelly softens very quickly on the warm cake,
spreading it is very easy.
 Layer 2
 Layer 3
 Yeahhhhh... it's true:  the temps on the pans only get right for the
next-to-the-last layer.
 Layer 4
Don't you LOVE the precious pound cake/bread slicer 
I talked Mama into giving me while she was napping
Mama gave me today?

Layer 5
It never fails, the last one will be smaller than the rest.
I should've eaten it:  we eat our mistakes around here.

And that's it!  That's all there is to one of the most Southern desserts you'll ever find yourself drooling over, but don't take MY word for it.  

The quince is a large tart fruit.  Down here they're big knobby yellowish looking fruit that ripen well into the fall months.  I make it a point to eat one a year, with that year's allowance of sodium used in the consumption of it.  There's a written rule somewhere that crab apples, green plums, and raw quince mandate excess salt intake.  

Does it have to be quince jelly?  Only if making this **snicker** quince-essential Southern comfort cake. Do yourself a favor and make this for your family using your favorite jam or jelly.  They'll remember it forever, even if it isn't a thing of beauty!

An endless fountain of immortal drink, 
Pouring unto us from the heaven's brink. 

I really think he WAS talking about this cake...

Y'all enjoy!

1 comment:

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