Wash the quinces well before using.
Poached Quinces: 1 1/2 cups sugar
1 each: star anise, cinnamon stick
finely grated rind and juice 1 lemon
4 cups water
3 medium-large quinces
Cake: 150g butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1/4 cup walnut meal or ground almonds
Place the sugar, star anise, cinnamon stick, lemon rind, lemon juice and water in a deep saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring gently.
Quarter the quinces and peel. Place in the syrup as each quarter is prepared. Poach for 20-30 minutes — depending on size and ripeness — until tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove the quinces to a bowl. Boil the liquid for about 15 minutes, until thick and syrupy. Cool a little. Makes about 1 1/2 cups syrup.
Line a 21cm square cake pan with baking paper. Slice the quinces, discarding the cores as you go. Place the slices in rows to cover the base of the pan.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Meanwhile, beat the butter until creamy. Add the caster sugar and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs a little at a time. Sift in the flour, salt and mixed spice. Add the walnut meal or ground almonds and mix until just combined.
Pour a 1/4 cup of the syrup over the quinces then dot with the cake mixture. Smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden and a skewer inserted in the centres comes out clean.
Cut the cake into squares and drizzle with the reserved syrup. Excellent served with whipped cream. Serves 8-10.