I love pears. They are an elegant fruit, and can add a sense of class to a fruit bowl, or to a meal for that matter. The right pear is a perfect accompaniment for a slow roasted pork, a fine match with ricotta, caramelised onion or balsamic. At the sweet end of things they make the loveliest tart or a seductive finish to French toast.
I’m not so keen on the Nashi variety (a bit a watery non-event in my book) but Packhams, Williams, Bosc, Corella or Winter Nelis … I’m not fussed, they’re all good.
A couple of weeks back we headed up to a friend’s farm in Nagambie and picked a basket full of Buerre Bosc. Delicious. With the left overs I made a pear cake to share at church this morning. Lovely.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED
- 4-6 medium-sized pears
- 150g of butter at room temperature
- 250g of castor sugar
- 2 eggs
- Finely grated rind of two lemons
- I teaspoon of vanilla essence
- 2½ cups of plain flour
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- ½ cup of milk
HERE’S WHAT YOU DO
To prepare the pears
- Peel, quarter and core the pears, cutting each quarter into three even slices.
- Add them to a saucepan with ½ cup of water. Cover and simmer for around five minutes. You don’t want to cook the pears as much as blanch or soften them.
- Drain the pears and set aside to cool.
To make the cake
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Grease and flour a 20cm springform cake pan.
- Combine the butter and sugar in an electric mixer and beat for approximately 10 minutes. The mixture should be a lovely creamy texture and the sugar dissolved.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions.
- Add the lemon zest and vanilla.
- Combine the flour and baking powder. Sift and add to the mixture along with the milk and blend on low speed for another minute or so.
- Transfer half of the cake mix into the springform pan and spread evenly.
- Add half the pears, fanning them around evenly.
- Add the remaining cake mix and spread gently and evenly over the pears.
- Add the remaining pears, fanning out around the top of the cake.
- Bake for approximately 1¼ hours, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remember to keep your eye on the cake as it cooks. Should the top of the cake begin to darken too much, you can cover with a loose sheet of foil to keep it from burning.
- Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool.
You can dust the top with icing sugar or drizzle over a thin lemon icing (combine some icing sugar, the juice of a lemon and a tablespoon of melted butter), whichever you prefer.
Either way, eat slowly … with coffee, with friends, but not alone. Pears taste better in company.