This tart takes a long time, mostly courtesy of the time it takes to cook the quince. It is relatively easy and well worth the effort. The pastry is fantastic and I have used it many times for other dishes.
Quince custard tart
500ml cold water
440g caster sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
3-5 quinces (about 1kg), peeled, quartered and cored
150g plain flour
125g cold butter, chopped
55g hazelnut meal
60g icing sugar mixture (pure icing sugar is too lumpy)
1 egg yolk
115g caster sugar
2 tsp rosewater, orange blossom water or other essence
Heat the oven to 180c. Cut the quince quarters in half lengthways again. Add the water, sugar and cinnamon to a saucepan over medium low heat, stirring so the sugar dissolves. Don’t let the mix come to the boil. Place the quince pieces into a baking dish, then pour the sugar mix over the top. Bake it in the oven, turning every half hour.
While the quince is baking, put the 150g plain flour, butter, hazelnut meal and icing sugar in a food processor. Blitz it until the mix looks like small breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and pulse briefly until it just comes together. You shouldn’t need to add any ice water, but if you do, only do a little at a time. Put the pastry on a lightly floured surface, knead it a little until smooth. shape it into a ball, wrap with plastic, then place it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
After 1.5 hours or so, the quince should be pink and the syrup a fair bit thicker. Take it out and allow the quince pieces to cool.
Now roll out the pastry between sheets of baking paper, until you have formed a 3mm disc: this should be enough to cover a 23cm tart tin. Grease the tart tin first, then layer in the pastry. Trim the edges, then put it back in the fridge again for about half an hour.
Put crumbled baking paper over the tart shell, fill it with baking weights, then bake it (still at 180c) for about 10 minutes. Take out the weights and paper, then bake the tart case another 5 – 10 minutes. You want it to look golden, not brown. Take it out of the oven, then turn the oven down to 160c.
Lightly whisk the eggs, then whisk them with the cream, milk, sugar and essence. Pass it through a sieve, just to get any egg white chunks out of the mix. Pour it into the the pastry case, then bake it for about 30 minutes until just set. Remove it from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Decorate the tart top with the quince slices. Place the syrup in a saucepan, bring it to the boil over high heat and let it cook for 5 minutes or so. Let it cool, then pour some over the quince. Place the tart in the fridge to chill for at least one hour to chill before serving.