There’s a pear in there …

… and apple as well.

Australians who spent their childhood here will be able to make sense of the above; it’s not so clever that further discussion is warranted!

For most of my life, I haven’t been a fan of pears; in fact, at kindergarten I used to be in dread that the mid-morning serve of fruit would include one or more pieces of pear. Anyway, my palate eventually got over it and I now enjoy slices of pear in a salad or on a pizza – think blue cheese, caramelised onions, rocket leaves and walnut pieces; poached pears – red wine in cool weather, chardonnay in summer; and baked pears.

We bought some beurre bosc pears at Toscano’s last week and by Monday they were ripe enough to be eaten. As the oven was going to be used to cook the garlic and lemon marylands, I decided to bake the pears; besides, that would be the kitchen hand’s preference. Here is the recipe.

Ingredients

3 ripe-but-firm pears (Beurre Bosc, Williams, Red Sensation or Rouge d’Anjou)
1 vanilla bean
2 tsp butter
2 tbsp caster sugar
zest and juice of an orange
25ml brandy

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 150C-160C.
  2. Peel, halve and core the pears. Choose an ovenproof dish in which the pears will fit snugly and place the pears in the dish.
  3. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise, cut into ‘toothpicks’ and distribute across the base of the dish. Sprinkle sugar and small knobs of butter over pears, add the zest and liquids and cover with aluminium foil.
  4. Place in the oven and cook for 1-1¼ hours, turning the pear halves after 35-40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered for another 20 minutes or so. When the pears are starting to turn golden brown and the cooking juices have reduced to a thick syrup, they are ready.
  5. Allow to cool a little before serving, possibly with a small amount of cream or vanilla ice-cream.

I suspect the kitchen hand – my darling wife – may have been generous with the butter.  The syrup had not caramelised to the usual extent and the mouthfeel of this batch was slightly greasy to my palate. They were tasty enough but I had bought one extra pear and I knew I wouldn’t want to eat my entire share of the plentiful leftovers. Overnight, my mind turned to cake as the preferred destiny of the pear pieces and their syrup.

After some fruitless internet exploration, I decided to adapt my fresh apple cake recipe, as set out in my April 2014 post of that name.

I gently heated the dish of pears in the oven, until the syrup was runny. I transferred the pear to a plate – to be roughly chopped when cool – and tipped the syrup and solids into a sieve over a bowl. After weighing the strained syrup, I reduced both the amount of butter to be melted for the cake and the amount of raw sugar (and there was no need for any brandy or caster sugar). To top up the fruit content, I grated a peeled, smallish Granny Smith apple – grated to make it cook quicker and because I wanted the pear to be the visual and textural hero of the cake.

Sounds like an excess of fuss and bother – unless you’re a bit obsessive like me – but it did produce a delicious cake. One half was set aside for Maggie to share with work colleagues, the other to be consumed at home over the next few days.

Pear cake 1   Pear cake 2

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About rmgtravelsandfood

Maggie and I are both in our early 60s and live in Melbourne, Australia. This blog is devoted to our shared passions for travel and fine dining at home. As cooks, we are skilful and adventurous within a framework of mainly traditional ingredients and techniques, and we aim to prepare nutritious food that looks good and tastes delicious. Our evolving repertoire is influenced by both our travels and Melbourne's vibrant food culture. While we are young enough, our priority travel destinations are overseas, although we do spend a few weekends each year exploring south-eastern Australia. As travellers, we are most comfortable with a combination of organised and independent touring. Our first overseas journey together was to Italy in the northern autumn of 2008. We later travelled in France (2009), Spain (2011), Singapore and Cambodia (2012/13). All trips from 2014 onwards are documented in this blog.
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