Medicinal Pastry! with Quince, Apple, Warming Spices and other Fruits

Can you say "Bliss"?

This dessert definitely counts as culinary magic.  It begins with the scent of Quince, which I find truly rapturous; it is best described as floral, sweet, and tart.  But, the description does not do it justice.  Do find some and see for yourself.  I gleaned these and the apples from the landscape; both just falling to the ground unused by the property owners (a benefit of landscaping for a living) - and we couldn't let this goodness go to waste could we?  'Course the wild animals were sure to indulge too; every apple was taken by someone before the leaves fell from the tree.  :)

The perfection of imperfect fruit.

Back to the scent of ripe Quince...  it is one of my favorite scents in all the world.  I have the scraps sitting in a pot of water on the woodstove to extract every last bit of their olfactory goodness.  It's so good I could just sit and smell the fruit for an hour; it's actually hard to stop smelling it.  I am in bliss with the scent wafting through the house as I fix this dessert.  THIS is what artificial air fresheners attempt to duplicate (but fail).  Nothing like the real thing!  Same could be said for clothing drying on the line and getting rained on and having to stay longer outside to dry.  THAT is the *real* "rain fresh" scent - and it. is. divine.  But I digress...

Quince:  the fruit with the addictive scent.  You can forage these seasonal delights in the landscape, grow them yourself, or occasionally find them at specialty stores or farmer's markets.  Ripe in early Fall.

To make this scrumptious dessert, first make Quince jam and pastry dough.  These two items can be made a day ahead of time (or more for the Quince) if desired.

There are lots of recipes for pastry dough online, so I won't repeat one here.  I used this one and quadrupled it.  Another option would be to only double the pastry dough recipe and then half the apple filling recipe below.  I like to make large amounts of things when I cook and bake because I love leftovers and I figure once you have everything out, it's much more efficient to make large amounts.  You can always freeze some for later if you won't eat it all soon - or gift some! 

Herbal Magic Brewing:  note the tiny Vanilla Orchid seeds.

To make Quince jam:
Use about 8-12 Quince depending on size; about 3/4 c. brown sugar; one Vanilla bean pod, split open; and about 7 cups of water.  Scrub, peel, and de-core the Quince, slice and mix with other items in a pot and bring to a boil.  Keep the lid on to keep the volatile oils inside, and hence in your dessert, or leave it off to release more to the house.  It's a tough decision.  I left mine off.  Turn down to simmer for about two hours then strain out the Quince puree while it's still hot.  Quince is high in pectin naturally, so it will set up as it cools.

You can keep it simple as Vanilla and Quince alone are delightful, or add some additional spices and fruits for health and flavor.  I used 8 Clove buds, 3 Cardamom pods, 8 Jujube dates, and 16 Longan berries.  Some other great additions would be Goldenberries, Mulberries, Goji berries, Ginger, ...  We will use Nutmeg and Cinnamon in with the Apples later, but you could add more here too.

Besides the sheer delight in the smell of the Quince and spices brewing, and then the pastry baking - we know what that does for the mood!, and emotions affect the body (and vice versa) - this pastry warms the middle, or to put it another way, supports digestion.  This is especially important this time of year as the seasons turn colder or more Yin.  We need to keep our Yang digestive fires going until the Yang of Spring arrives.  See the links above on each of the fruits and spices for more information on their medicinal qualities.  You will see they can help with warming up cold joints and extremities too, amongst other things...

Once you have your Quince jam and pastry dough made, it's time to make the Apple Pastry itself...
Start by grating about 8 Apples.  I used foraged apples so there was rot and other areas I discarded, so I ended up using about a dozen apples to equal 8. 
Preheat the oven 400 degrees.

I like to leave the skins on, even with the "blemishes" that feral fruit will have.  It's good for you!

Mix your grated apple with :
1 1/2 c. Quince jam (or substitute any jam if you wish) - this is about half what we made earlier
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. raisins
2 eggs
1 Tbspn. Cinnamon
1/2 tspn. Nutmeg 
You could also add a cup of chopped nuts; Walnuts or Pecans would be great.
(This apple filling recipe will make enough filling for 4 of the pastry dough recipes linked above.)

I ended up not using any milk, but I did throw in half a jar of Hawthorn extract.  Mix it up! 

Take your dough out of the fridge and roll it out on a floured surface, cover it with filling and roll up into a log.  Be sure to leave the outer edge uncovered so you can get your dough to adhere to itself.  I made mine into one super large roll but it was hard to deal with so would recommend halfing our quartering the dough and making several.  Next time that is what I'll do.  ;)  Other options would be to just do a tart (not roll it up), or to make individual serving pastries...

Bake for 60 mins. if you make one large roll; if you do 2 rolls or 4 rolls instead; it will take much less time.  I'd say around 30-45 minutes; bake it until it is well browned.  A tart would probably only take 30 min. and individual pastries might only take 20-30 min. 
One thing about 'kitchen alchemy rules' is that there are no rules! 

You will notice I often say "about" on the amounts in a recipe I share.  This is because I often don't measure and I don't think cooking and baking are exact sciences.  Others might disagree, but I like the play of spontaneity and chance in my kitchen alchemy.  Plus it's hard to go wrong with these ingredients!  Take notes and tweak future batches as you see fit.  I have probably never followed a recipe exactly and usually just cook from scratch.  I note my successes so I can repeat them, but again, rarely make them exactly the same the next time. 
Allow your cooking and baking.  Learn the basics and then branch out and experiment... 
Life itself is ever-changing and vitality is to be found in that interplay.  Rigidity creates stagnation, even in the simple everyday things like fixing food.  Allow, go with the flow, and explore new things... let your regimentation come only from the foundation of health you have set:  like sitting at the table to eat, not looking at any screens during mealtime, chewing thoroughly - BE with your food, your meal, your body. 
Joy is in the little things, like preparing and eating real food.  :)

"Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, 
not because they never found it, 
but because they didn’t stop to join it."
 - William Feather

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