These sweet recipes will leave your with a penchant for pears.
A truly ripe pear is a real sensation, oozing juice and full of sweetness.
Unfortunately most of us don’t get to sample pears at their peak as most pears are picked when still hard. The good news is that pears continue to ripen (unusually from the core out) after picking, so the opportunity to taste it at its perfect best awaits anyone with a little patience.Pears probably evolved in the Caucasus mountain territory on the border between Europe and Asia. Although celebrated in ancient Greek and Roman writings, it wasn’t until the 1700s that French and Belgians developed the fruit as we know it today. Celebrated by Renaissance artists for its sculptural form, the pear is today a fruit loved by chefs and foodies for its distinctive shape and mellow flavour. Pear trees were included in the cargo of the First Fleet and all over country Australia you can see random pear trees surviving in paddocks where long gone farmhouses once stood.
Selection, storage and preparation: Thanks to the development of the Australian variety known as the Packham, pears are available in this country year round. Real pear season, however, is from February to May, though red and gold blushed Corella pears are available from April to September, and brown Beurre Boscs from March until October. Williams, or Bartlett, pears are at the markets from January to April, while the burgundy-skinned version sold as Red Sensations are around until May. Choose fruit that feels firm and blemish-free. If it gives slightly at the stem end when pressed gently it will probably make good eating. You can speed up ripening by putting the pears in a bag with a banana. If you are going to cook the pears, select fruit that is harder than you would choose for eating fresh.
Pears go with: Honey, cream, ice-cream, citrus, wine, including fortified and balsamic vinegar, pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds, blue cheese, chevre, parmesan, vanilla, passionfruit, berries, apples and salad leaves.
Botrytis-poached Pear Pudding
- 6 pears, peeled and cored from the base, leaving stalks attached
- 375ml botrytis Semillon
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthways
- 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 1/4 cup caster sugar, extra
- 1/3cup almond meal
- 2 tablespoons self-raising flour
- 1 cup milk
- 3 eggs, room temperature, separated
- Icing sugar, for dusting
Combine the Semillon, vanilla bean and sugar in a medium sized saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Place the pears upright into the pan, add enough water to cover pears and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Stand in poaching liquid for 30 minutes, and then remove the pears with a slotted spoon. Bring the liquid to the boil and reduce until 3/4 cup remains, strain (reserve liquid). Preheat oven to 180˚C. Stand pears upright in a buttered 17cm x 27 cm ceramic baking dish. Combine extra sugar, almond meal and flour in a bowl and gradually whisk in combined milk and egg yolks. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff, and then fold into almond mixture. Pour mixture around pears and bake for 30 minutes, or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Dust with icing sugar and pass the Semillon syrup around separately.
- 11/4 cups plain flour
- 90g unsalted butter, chopped
- 1/4 cup caster sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 100g soft unsalted butter, chopped
- 100g icing sugar
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- 100g almond meal
- 1 medium-sized pear, peeled, cored and sliced into six
- 2 tablespoons apricot jam
- Thickened cream, to serve
To make pastry: Process flour and butter in a food processor until mixture resembles breadcrumbs, add the sugar and egg yolks and process until mixture just comes together(be careful not to overwork the pastry) Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead gently until smooth. Form into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Cut into 6 rounds and use to line 6 individual tart tins with removable bases. Using a fork prick the bases, cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Preheat oven 180˚C. Line each prepared tart case with baking paper, baking beans or rice and bake blind for 10 minutes, or until edges start to colour. Remove beans and paper and bake for 5 minute longer, to lightly brown the bases. Cool.
To make filling: Beat butter and icing sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add egg and beat until combined, then stir in the almond meal and mix well. Spoon mixture into pastry cases, filling them no more than three-quarters full. Place sliced pear on top of with each filled case and bake at160c for 30 minutes or until filling is golden and just firm to touch. Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack before turning out.As the tarts are cooling, heat the apricot jam in a small saucepan (or in the microwave) until hot, then strain. Brush the tarts with the strained jam to glaze, while they are still hot. Serve with cream.
Pear Upside-Down Cake
- 3 large pears (such as beurre bosc), peeled, cored and cut into 2cm-thick slices
Juice of 1 lemon
- 50g butter, melted
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 150g extra soft butter, chopped
- 1 cup brown sugar, extra
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 80g ground hazelnuts
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ½ cup milk
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Preheat oven to 180˚C. Toss sliced pears in lemon juice to prevent browning. Grease and line a 24cm cake pan. Pour melted butter into base and sprinkle with brown sugar. Place the largest pear slices over sugar, overlapping each other in a spiral pattern, then top with remaining slices. Beat extra butter and extra sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together flour, baking powder and spices and fold into mixture. Fold hazelnuts and combined buttermilk and milk, alternately into mixture. Dissolve soda in 1 tablespoon boiling water, add to cake mixture and mix to form a smooth batter. Carefully spoon over pear slices and bake for 50 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Remove and cool for 30 minutes. Run a knife around sides of pan and carefully turn out onto a serving plate. Best served on the day of baking.
Makes 1.5–2 litres
- 2kg firm beurre bosc or corella pears
- 1kg caster sugar
- 500ml cider vinegar
- 500ml white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon allspice berries, lightly crushed
- 1 teaspoon cloves
- 5cm piece fresh root ginger, finely sliced
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken into 3 pieces
- Juice and strips of peel from ½ a lemon
Peel and halve or quarter pears (corella pears may be peeled and left whole) and place in a bowl of water with a little vinegar or lemon juice to prevent discolouration. Place all of the other ingredients into a large saucepan on low heat and allow to come slowly to the boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Drain the pears and add them to the saucepan .Simmer for 5 minutes, if you like pears with a little crunch, 10–15 minutes if you prefer them soft. In the meantime, the jars should be washed in warm soapy water, rinsed, dried and heated in a moderate oven for 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears, cinnamon sticks and peel to the clean jars. Boil the syrup for about 10 minutes until reduced by about a third and slightly thickened. Pour in enough to fill the jars right up to the neck and completely cover the pears (I use a funnel to pour the syrup). Scoop up the spices and add them to the jar as well. Cover and seal the jars and when contents are completely cool, wipe, label and store in a cool dark place for 1 month before using. Maybe stored up to 12 months.
Note: If using metal lids, you will need to place a wax disc on before sealing as the vinegar corrodes metal.