Autumn has hit with all its windiness and cold beauty in the first few days of October. Our pear tree is flourishing this year, and while we may have to allow some of the crop to go to the birds, I intend to use as many pears as possible in recipes over the next few weeks before they spoil.
It’s difficult to wait until pears are ripe to actually harvest them, as by the time they are ready to be eaten, they fall off the tree at the least breath of wind. And so, while it’s lovely to just let a pear be a pear and eat it, it would be almost impossible to do justice to a crop, leaving it at that. Our tree is only in its third year, and I estimate about 100 pears are on it. Our neighbour is helping herself, which I’m glad of, and I’m giving some away, of course. We would love to make some perry but this year’s crop isn’t big enough – and we still haven’t made the cider anyway! And so, I’m trying some recipes out.
Last week, Bobby and I made a lovely pear, almond and nutmeg cake, which is a perennial favourite in our family. The top of the cake (baked as the bottom) includes crushed, toasted almonds, melted butter, nutmeg and sugar, and a pear arranged in a flower-shape. The cake itself is a regular victoria sponge cake, but includes ground almonds and lots of nutmeg. For good measure, I added another sliced up pear to the mix. Served with creme fraiche, I’ve never seen a cake disappear so fast!
Today I started on the Christmas supplies…sorry! A really luscious and much appreciated way of preserving pears is to pickle them, and I used Delia’s recipe, more or less. This calls for both cider and white wine vinegar, heated up with brown sugar and a spice mix that includes cinnamon, cloves and allspice, along with some lemon slices. Of course, I got as far as heating up the vinegar and sugar and realised that I didn’t have all spice. So, I used black and white pepper corns and a mulled wine sachet that included all spice! I’ve no idea whether it’s worked as the pears are supposed to be left at least a month before use. It smelled ok and the mix tasted fine, I just don’t know if the pepper is too much in the pears. We shall see (and next time I will have all the ingredients to hand before starting, as Delia knows what she’s doing!)
For immediate consumption I also made a pear tart. The recipe I found online, and it’s very straightforward, something I hadn’t thought of doing before. Basically, the pears are peeled, chopped and tossed in a mix of sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice and zest, plus some cornflour to soak up some juice. Then they are baked in a pastry surround, but on a baking sheet. The pastry is rolled out, the mix put in the middle, the sides of the pastry pulled up around the edges of the fruit, and glazed with honey melted in boiling water. After 35 mins it comes out golden brown and smelling delicious. I intend to find out this evening.
A pair of pear recipes completed today. Only another 80 pears or so to go!