You may be wondering where the sage and walnuts are-- the shortcake biscuit is made with walnuts and sage and the syrup for poaching the fruit has sage in it as well. Sage has a dusty, resiny flavor that I love in bread stuffing, but that's not a post holiday recipe. When I investigated, the Essential New York Times Cookbook has a sage biscuit recipe. Adding a few walnuts to the biscuits seemed reasonable. You can use any fruit but the quince also has an antique flavor that works well with the sage and walnuts, and the cranberry gives the finished shortcakes a nice color and a slightly sour flavor contrast. You will have leftover fruit and syrup. I am imagining a winter cocktail and maybe an ice cream topping. —luvcookbooks
First, slice the quinces into fourths. Remove the core and peel the quinces, reseerving core and peel. Bring honey, sugar, cardamom and sage to a boil and simmer until the sugar and honey are dissolved and the mixture is uniform, about five minutes.
Bundle up the quince cores and peels in cheesecloth. Simmer them with some syrup from step one. Add the quinces, sliced lemon and sliced orange to the rest of the syrup. Simmer both mixtures for about 45 minutes, until the quince is tender. Strain out the cores and peels and add the syrup to the quinces. Add the cranberriesto the quinces and syrup and simmer another 5 minutes. The cranberries should soften but not lose their shape. Be gentle with them. Let cool while you make the biscuits.
Soak walnuts in milk for a few minutes. Drain and toast on the stove for a few minutes, until fragrant but not scorched.
Mix dry ingredients. Cut in butter until the butter is like tiny flakes. Mix in sage and walnuts. Using a wooden spoon, stir in egg and half and half. Gather to make a slightly sticky dough. Knead three or four times and pat out onto a floured surface to 1/2 inch thick. Bake at 425 for 12 to 15 minutes.
Let the biscuits cool for a few minutes. Split in half. Spoon fruit and a little syrup over the bottom half of the biscuit, top with a dollop of clotted cream and the other biscuit half. Betty Crocker's 1950 edition suggests tilting the top half against the bottom half "like a hat" to show off the fruit. Serve with a cup of steaming hot tea.