Lately, we've been making a lot of pears for our 9-month-old son, Will. We cook them with a little water until they're soft and mix them with oat cereal for his breakfast. He loves them! They strike me as the perfect baby food -- pure and sweet with the loveliest smell -- it's delicate and almost floral.
Watching Will enjoying his pears made me realize that I wanted to enjoy some pears, too. And that brought up memories of a lovely pear bread my good friend Anna used to make when we all lived in Washington, DC. She would invite us up (she lived one floor above us) to her little apartment for a thick slice of this delicious treat, still warm from the oven.
After some research, I decided to go with the Joy of Cooking's recipe though I've made a few minor modifications below to improve the texture a bit as I feel the original version was a little too wet, a bit too sweet, and not quite well enough risen enough for my taste. I am happy to report that my adjustments appear to have fixed all of those issues.
This bread is lovely - subtly redolent of ripe pears, with a nice mix of spices and a pleasant nutty crunch from the pecans. It's delicious plain and decadent toasted and spread with sweet butter or cream cheese. I used Red Anjou pears but any ripe, flavorful pear will do.
As always, I encourage you to use the highest quality organic ingredients you can find/afford.
Lemon Pear Bread With Pecans
Makes One Loaf
* 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1/4 tsp baking powder
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
* 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
* 1 1/2 cups grated peeled ripe pears, with juice (you'll need 2-4 pears, depending on their size)
* 1 stick butter, softened or melted (you can also substitute 1/2 cup vegetable oil if you prefer)
* 1 tsp grated ginger (optional)
* 1 large egg
* 1 tsp vanilla
* 1 tsp grated lemon zest
* 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
* 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and set aside.
2.Whisk the first seven ingredients (all the dry stuff) together well in a medium sized bowl. Then whisk the rest of the ingredients, minus the pecans together in a larger bowl. Fold the flour mixture into the wet ingredients in the larger bowl just until the dry ingredients are moistened thoroughly, then stir in the chopped pecans.
3. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and spread it evenly. Bake for one hour to one hour and 15 minutes (this will depend on your oven -- mine only took an hour but the Joy of Cooking recipe says 1:15 - 1:20) until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
4. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before removing the bread from the loaf pan and then let cool completely on the rack.
A few more recipes you might like: