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Pear Solo August 20, 2010

Filed under: Beautiful baking — titchandboofer @ 11:39 am
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Dinner has been eaten, an ordinary beef stew with carrot stoemp (trust me, calling it stoemp – pronounced shtoomp – makes carrot and potato mash sound a lot more exciting than it really is). The small one has gallumphed around in the bath, whacking the taps with his fleet of plastic boats. He has had his last, lingering, drowsy breastfeed for the day and gone to bed. The beloved is working the late shift. So here I am, on my nige, not a baked good in sight and the only hope of dessert is a poached pear. They are lovely poached pears, sweet with vanilla and star anise, tender and syrupy. But it’s still just fruit really, isn’t it? Can I be bothered making something else, a biscuit or a spongy pudding? Not really, it’s late. Well, it’s past pensioner hour anyway. Hmph. I have little leftover bits of almond meal. And I have little leftover bits of flaked almonds. Almonds and pear? Pear and almonds? Pear and almonds and cinnamon? Yes. Crumble is the answer – isn’t crumble often the answer? Crumble is quick, buttery and sweet. Crumble will add texture to the lovely pears. Extra crumble will keep for days in a little snack box in the fridge, for emergencies.

Poached Pears & Emergency Crumble

Pears first:

4 beurre bosc pears, not too ripe

1 litre of water

250 grams of sugar

1 vanilla pod

3-4 star anise, more if you love it

Put your water, sugar and spices into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.

While the pan is coming to a simmer and the sugar is dissolving, peel and quarter your pears. Scoop out the core from each quarter with a small sharp knife and put each piece immediately into the pan. This prevents the pear from discolouring. Find a saucer or small plate with a diameter slightly smaller than your saucepan. Rip off a piece of baking paper big enough to cover the pan. Place the paper directly over the simmering water and rest the saucer on top. This is called a cartouche and it serves to keep the pears submerged while they poach, again keeping them from discolouring.

Let the pears simmer for 25-35 minutes, until tender when poked with your small sharp knife.

Allow to cool. There’s something a little odd about hot poached pears, especially if you’re like me and you eat them with natural yoghurt. Plus, allowing them to cool intensifies the flavour of the spices. I pour the whole contents of the pan into a watertight plastic container and tuck them in the fridge door. They will keep for 5 or 6 days and are tasty on muesli, on their own, with a dollop of cream or yoghurt, or with some almondy crumble.

Crumble next:

1/2 a cup of almond meal

1/4 of a cup of flaked almonds

1/4 of a cup of brown sugar (not firmly packed)

1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon (you could use more but I ran out after 1/2 a teaspoon)

25 grams of unsalted butter at room temperature, chopped into small pieces

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius (160 fan forced)

Line a baking tray with baking paper

Put all your dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the mixture using your fingers. You don’t have to be too thorough, just rub the butter in until you have a coarse, crumbly texture that holds together if pressed. Rubbing in will also break a few of the almond flakes, which is no bad thing.

Scoop the mixture onto your prepared tray and press into a large, biscuit-like shape, about 1-1.5cm deep.

Bake in the oven for 6-8 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool on the tray, then break into chunks.

Serve with a few pieces of poached pear and a scoop of natural yoghurt or cream.

If you have leftovers that you want to be creative with, you could soften a few scoops of vanilla ice-cream, break some chunks of crumble into it, mix thoroughly and return to the freezer for a while. In summer, eat emergency crumble with fresh fresh strawberries, tiny basil leaves and thick cream. Mmmm, summer. I’m almost ready for some hot weather again, for sunshine and cold drinks, bare feet and juicy peaches. In the meantime, I’m heading back to the couch, to a woolly blanket, a mug of tea and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Goodnight.

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2 Responses to “Pear Solo”

  1. BLF Says:

    I made a version of this last night – so thought I would add some of my cooking notes…

    Note 1: Plain flour is an OK substitute if you are a nuff nuff who realises at the last minute that you do not have almond meal.
    Note 2: This should be obvious – I was cooking quite late, so intelligence was impaired – but biscuit needs to be even or you will have burnt, burnt, burnt edges and soggy middle. Can be fixed, but the smell isn’t great.
    Note 3: Also delicious with smashed up, slightly old and slightly overcooked ginger biscuits (see Ginger Nut post). And stewed rhubarb.

    Delish!

    • Oh rhubarb, how I miss you. I had high hopes for the rhubarb I planted in our garden. These have been dashed, first by Agnes in her enthusiasm to dig it up repeatedly, then by me transplanting it out of her reach. Good idea with the ginger biscuits. The great-granny has just requested a life-time supply of them, so I’ll have to give it a go while I’m baking more. And good point re plain flour. Ditto for hazelnut meal, gluten free flour or any other nut meal I suppose.


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