Thursday, January 24, 2013

The thing about pears.

Pears are tricky. They are beautiful in every single one of their varieties. They have an elegant, idiosyncratic shape. They smell divine.

...these pears are probably never going to get ripe.
 However, because pears do not ripen on the tree, it is never a sure thing that the pears you've purchased at the store will ripen up to their perfection.

Don't try to tell me this isn't true. Sometimes, a pear just never really ripens, and that's a fact. But I am here to tell you that there are remedies for this situation. In other words, you are not at the mercy of a recalcitrant pear. The pear is not the boss of you. That's because an underripe pear--a pear that will not give in--is perfect for baking.

Recently, I ran across to recipes that demonstrate this potential of the pear exactly. The first is a pear gratin. I ran across this recipe when I was trying to come up with a plan for a winter luncheon, aka my writing group.

This gratin is basically a bread pudding, but with pound cake for the bread, and interleaved with pears. This seems almost sinful, but it doesn't matter. You're not going to eat this every day--only on writing group day, or something similar.

I intended to buy a pound cake, but there were no pound cakes to be had at the store, so I made this one, which is very easy indeed. In fact, I went to the store, came home, made the pound cake, and assembled and baked the gratin all before noon, that's how easy it was. (You will notice when you read the recipe that the writer decorates her gratin, as she serves it, with red currants. Believe it or not, I had not a single red currant to my name. Also, I did not feel like grinding or chopping pistachios to garnish the gratin. So my gratin had a little barely sweetened mascarpone cheese whipped with a little half and half, along with some blueberries, and it was lovely, praiseworthy, and of good report.)

I wish I could convey to you how good this gratin is. So good. Ridiculous. Don't hesitate.

we ate this for breakfast.
The second recipe came in an e-mail I was deleting--one of those newsletters I subscribed to, then could only rarely be bothered to peruse. But as I was deleting it, I caught a fleeting glimpse of the words "Pear Breakfast Cake." Wait--what? I thought, and delved into the Deleted Items file to retrieve it. Because it's the historian's birthday today, and he deserved, therefore, a fancy breakfast.

Last night, I measured all the ingredients except for the milk and set them on the counter, so that I could stumble out of bed and do the mixing with hardly any thinking. This plan worked splendidly. By 8 a.m., the cake was out of the oven, the historian had opened his presents, and we each ate a piece.

Again: delicious. Pears melt, almost, as they bake, especially if there is some butter in proximity. And why wouldn't there be butter? There should always be butter.


  1. Happy birthday to the Historian. It's my historian's b-day today. Hires!

  2. I love baked pears. And my mouth is already watering just reading this. Also good is pear and apple and dried cherry crisp made with almond flour. And ginger pear pie. Aaa! now I'm really hungry for something with pears!



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