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Quince Mince Pie | Owl and the Pussycat

They dined on mince and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;

And hand in hand on the edge of the sand
They danced by the light of the moon,

-The Owl and the Pussycat, Edward Lear

Owl and the Pussy cat Quince Mince Pie via BrytonTaylor.com

Mince, quince, runcible spoon….and don’t forget the Bong-tree! Isn’t it funny how we can know a nursery rhyme so well, grow up with it, and yet we have no clue what it means? Maybe at heart we are just magnets for nonsense. I’ve just been looking into creating words and it says, while it is considered natural for children, it can be seen as a thought disorder in adults. *crickets chirp…*

Anyway here is the breakdown of words:

Quince:  A sour, pear like fruit. Often baked, roasted or stewed.

Mince:  Finely chopped food.

Bong-tree:  No description. But it makes me think of South American silk floss trees with their bulging stomachs or African baobab trees (they are cousins by the way).

Runcible spoon:  Just a no-meaning word when Edward Lear first used this word. Nowadays it can be a spork–a spoon with fork-like prongs at the end, or a combination of a spoon and fork with a sharp edge like a knife. However in another rhyme by Edward Lear, a duck catches a frog on one of these spoons, and an image accompanies the nursery rhyme, where the spoon was simply a long spoon.


Owl and the Pussycat; Quince Mince Pie

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  • Author: Bryt
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins


Units Scale
  • juice and zest of 1 orange
  • 1 apple, finely chopped
  • 2 quince, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup suet, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup raisins, finely chopped
  • 1/6 cup citron
  • 2 baby carrots, washed and grated
  • 2/3 tbsp cinnamon
  • pinch each of all spice, mace, ginger, and cloves
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • basic shortcrust pastry


  1. Mix all the ingredients in a large glass bowl, excluding the pastry.
  2. Cover with cling wrap and let sit overnight.
  3. Next day, butter a pie pan, roll out the pastry dough and line the pan.
  4. Fill with the quince mixture.
  5. Cover with another layer of rolled out dough, trimmed to size and pinch down edges.
  6. Pierce the centre 2-3 times so steam can be released during baking.
  7. Bake in a preheated 180C/355F oven for ~30-50 minutes.


Please note, this recipe may need to be adjusted. I wrote my notes on different pieces of paper, misplaced one, so have written it half from memory. Just keep an eye on your pie in the oven.


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One Comment

  1. So happy I found your site- I am reciting the Owl and the Pussycat at my sister’s wedding in a few days and, in searching for the definition of runcible, was led to you.

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