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Quince with verjus, bay leaves and vanilla

Serves six

Slowly cooked quince are sweet and delicious. Inedible raw, once baked (as above), they are similar in taste to a baked pear, only more beautiful in colour.

6 quince
350ml/12fl oz verjus or a sweet white wine
170g/6oz caster sugar
2 vanilla pods, split in half lengthwise
3 fresh bay leaves
The whole rind of one unwaxed lemon

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas3, then, taking a clean dish cloth, wipe the quince well all over to remove any fluff. Using a sharp knife, slice in quarters lengthwise (it is not necessary to peel and core them).

Lay them, skin-side down, in a sturdy baking tray. Pour over the verjus or wine, sprinkle over the sugar and scatter over the vanilla pods, bay leaves and lemon rind.

Cover securely with foil and place on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for one hour then remove and turn the quince gently over.

Cover again with foil and return to the oven for a further 11/2 hours. By this stage the quince will be a beautiful deep orange colour, sweet and soft.

Serve warm straight from the oven with cream – or allow to cool to room temperature and serve with crème fraîche, which is my personal favourite.