Posted by: lialeendertz | November 28, 2011

A two-quince day

Quince and star anise icecream

Sunday morning is allotment time, but I didn’t go this week. I’ve been feeling a bit fractious with the kids, getting upset easily, worrying that all I do is bark orders at them, wanting to play but never finding time or energy. My husband – sensing a woman on the verge – took the kids up to the plot and I stayed at home. That maybe doesn’t sound too significant but it is. It wouldn’t have happened a year ago. Slowly but (we hope, we hope) surely, he is recovering from a two-year illness and able to take on more. There is a little more sharing, taking turns, a little breathing space. I got almost four peaceful hours to myself and spent much of it standing in the sunny kitchen making ice cream. Stirring, stirring. A good thing to do when you are not trying to do fifteen other things at the same time.

I got my ice cream maker a few months ago and love it. I bought it to make use of the fruit gluts we get at the allotment through the summer, but was a little late for this year, so have become slightly obsessed with the idea of winter ice creams, using wintery fruits and hints of spices: grown up ice creams. (Look out for one I made for the grow-your-own Christmas food feature in the December issue of Gardens Illustrated: orange and cardamom with rosehip ripple. Proper lush.) Yesterday’s was quince and star anise.

I have a great source of quince in my mum and step-dad’s tree. I get their windfalls, but only if I’m quick enough (their neighbours are all keen too) and I had a big container of pulped quince in the freezer from last year’s big crop (I broke my golden rule: never freeze produce for it shall sit in the bottom of the freezer for at least a year. And so it came to pass). I’ve baked quince with star anise before and liked them together. The aniseed of star anise keeps things perky but there’s mellow spiciness to it as well. So with time miraculously on my hands I thought I’d try it in ice cream form.

Making custard

First I warmed a pint of milk with a couple of pieces of star anise in it, then switched it off and let it sit for a good half an hour. Then I rewarmed the defrosted quince, pushed it through a sieve and added sugar, warming it again. Then the custard. I love making the custard. Six egg yolks and 125g sugar are whisked together. Sieve the now cooled milk into the same bowl and whisk, then return all to a clean pan. Warm gently for about ten minutes with – and this really is the important bit – a basin full of ice cold water ready poured in the sink. At the first sign of curdling (and this has happened to me every time so don’t think it wont happen to you) lift the pan off the heat and plunge its base into the water, whisking furiously. It brings it back from the scrambled edge. Combine fruit and custard and, when cool, add a pot of mascarpone. You can go for whipped cream here but for my money mascarpone is a classier way to get fat. Cool, churn and freeze.

During churning – feeling inspired – I went online and bought a dwarf quince tree from Blackmoor Nursery. I saw these at Hampton Court and they were so beautiful I promised myself one.  All the fuzziness and sculptural grace of the trees but reaching just a couple of metres in height. Too perfect to resist so I didn’t. No more competing with mum’s neighbours. Then I folded clothes and made lunch and cleaned the cooker and later on, when everyone was back and the jobs were done, I danced with the kids for a full half an hour with the music turned up high, played ludo with them and fed them weird and wonderful ice cream.



  1. Thats sounds like a wonderful way to spend Sunday morning. I suspect that bearing the load for the last 2 years was beginning to tell, we all need a little proper me time at some point to re focus ourselves.

    Your ice cream sounds yummy – keep muttering about getting an ice cream maker, must mutter louder nearer my birthday!!

  2. Lia – you make that ice-cream seem absolutely delicious. I love anise and also – brilliant for desserts, though possibly not with quince – cardamom.
    How did you manage to achieve that gorgeous, clean colour? A perfect creamy yellow, like the rose ‘Golden Showers.’

    You’re so right about freezing. The wild blackberry crop failed almost completely round us, this year, because of long-lasting drought. But we still had blackberry and apple crumble, in season, thanks to last year’s frozen crop!

  3. Lovely post. Lovely day.

    The only regret I have about not having a fridge/freezer is that it means we can’t make ice-cream.

    So pleased for both of you – for all of you! – that the pressure is lifting and health returning.

  4. Great combination of flavours. We have an ice cream machine, have had it for years and it is a great addition to the kitchen. Sorbets are wonderful. Best one we ever made was blackcurrant. Hope to read of more interesting flavours, though chocolate is always good….!

  5. What a lovely read and lookforward to reading some more have allways wanted to have a go at icecream making you just tempted me to looking to getting an icecream maker

  6. Ice cream does give almost as much pleasure to make as it is to eat. Ace abt M too

  7. Lovely looking blog! Wonderful new idea for quinces – I’m sure I’ve got some mouli’d pulp lurking in my freezer too. Just wrote about quinces on my blog

  8. Great idea, turning these flavours into an ice cream. I want to try your baked quince (from Gardens Illustrated) too. Sadly, we don’t have a room for a quince tree in our far-too-small edible forest but I took the precaution of planting one in my parents garden and persuading the neighbours that it was the perfect tree for the communal planter in our street. But I expect there will be a lot of competition when this tree starts fruiting.
    Also I completely understand your feelings about the impossibility of combining work with being a patient, good-tempered mum at all times. Right now I’m trying to finish an article with both kids sick at home, lots of interruption.

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