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    Pepys's Quince Tart

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    Pepys's Quince Tart

    This is a slightly cheaty name; although it is documented that Pepys was partial to a quince tart, there is no existing recipe, so I’ve used some of the flavours of the time. Mostly what this means is the new(ish) spices from the East, along with such treats as oranges, and a snifter of his favourite tipple – sack, or its modern day equivalent, sweet sherry. The sauce is loosely based on Pepys’s perennial nightcap, a posset.

    • Preparation time: 40 minutes
    • Cooking time: 115 minutes
    • Total time: 2 hours 35 minutes 60 minutes 60 minutes 35 minutes

    Serves: 8


    • 180 g plain flour
    • 90 g icing sugar
    • 90 g butter
    • 1 large eggs
    • Filling
    • 3 quinces
    • 100 ml sweet sherry
    • 500 ml orange juice
    • 3 tbsp honey
    • ½ tsp ground ginger
    • 3 large eggs
    • 3 tbsp chestnut puree
    • Posset Cream
    • 250 ml double cream
    • ½ tsp cinnamon
    • A pinch freshly grated nutmeg
    • 150 ml sweet sherry
    • 3 tbsp currants
    • 3 eggs
    • 3 tbsp caster sugar


    1. For the pastry, spin the flour and sugar in the food processor before adding the butter, followed by the egg and yolk; switch off. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and freeze for 30 minutes.
    2. In a heavy-based pan on a medium heat, warm the sherry, orange juice, honey and ginger. Stir in the quince. It will take about 1 hour to break down and soften. During this time, stir it every 10 minutes and check it’s not burning at the bottom; reduce the heat if necessary. It’s done when it looks like a coarse, reddish apple sauce. Keep the lid on and mix in a little water if it seems to be drying out before it’s cooked.
    3. Preheat the oven to 170C/gas 3. Coarsely grate the pastry and use your fingertips to spread it out to line a 25cm, 4cm-deep tart ring. Chill until the quince is done.
    4. Stir the eggs and chestnut purée into the quince. Taste and add more honey if needed, then tip the mixture into the tart case. Bake on a baking tray for 45 minutes, turning halfway.
    5. For the posset cream, heat the cream with the cinnamon and nutmeg. In another pan, gently warm the sherry with the currants for 5 minutes, then whisk in the eggs. Add the sugar, whisking continuously. After 1 minute, turn the heat off; add the cream – don’t stir it, just give it a swirl.
    6. Rest the tart for 10 minutes and serve in shallow bowls with a ladleful of the warm sauce.

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    Drinks recommendation

    Enjoy sherry with the dish, as well as in it.


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