1.Place the sugar, honey, bay leaves, star anise and water in a large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.
2.Peel quinces, cut into quarters or eighths depending on their size, and remove cores. Add quince to syrup; cook over medium heat until the syrup comes to a simmer. Simmer over low heat for 3 hours 30 minutes or until quince is soft and rosy-coloured.
3.To make filo fingers, preheat the oven to 150°C (130°C fan-forced). Line an oven tray with baking paper. Place one sheet of pastry on a clean surface. Brush with a little butter; top with remaining sheet of pastry, brushing with more butter. Fold layered pastry in half crossways. Brush with butter; fold in half crossways again. Brush with a little more butter and sprinkle with half the hazelnut meal. Fold in half once more and brush with butter. Cut the rectangle into four long strips; place on the prepared tray. Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients to make another four pastry fingers. Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown. Dust with sifted icing sugar.
4.Serve quince and some of the poaching liquid with filo fingers and vanilla ice-cream, thickened cream or yoghurt, if desired.
If desired, poach extra quinces. Quinces and syrup can be stored in the fridge and served with porridge or muesli for breakfast. For a quick quince dessert, thinly slice the poached quince over puff pastry for a quick and tart or fold through a butter cake mixture for a rich twist on a tea-cake.