Often the best dishes come from the furthest, forgotten corners of pantry and fridge. This week, my crisper housed a few overripe pears in need of a sweeter home. The pears were firm and smooth at one point, but last week I got culinarily distracted by some fresh apples that came my way. The apples flirted themselves right into an Apple Flognarde, leaving the abandoned pears to be battered and bruised by the rotating produce that came in and out of the crisper all week. I decided to make it up to the pears by treating their now soft and tender bodies to a dessert that would celebrate their rediscovery.
The juices of overripe fruit are perfect for transforming into curd. The pear flesh and pear juice are pureed and whisked with egg yolks and sugar over a double-boiler. Chunks of butter are fed one by one into the mixture, melting on contact, to form a silky-smooth, spreadable sauce that truly carries the essence of pear in each spoonful.
Since I run my own virtual Bed & Breakfast, 'breakfast' is available any time of day and clothes and additional guests are optional. Good coffee is a given, as is the proprietary right of licking the spoon for the curd.
From the comfort of one's boudoir (the kitchen or the bedroom kind), one can, through cake and curd, enjoy the sweetly fragrant and tenderly spiced experience of pear on pear. From my vantage point amidst propped pillows and soft sheets, the combination is so intoxicatingly sultry, if I described it any more, this blog would have to be wrapped in brown paper.
SPICED PEAR BREAKFAST BREAD & PEAR CURD - inspired by four near-forgotten pears, a perfectly lazy morning, Kiran Tarun's Cinnamon Pear Bread and Carolina Girl Cooks Pear Curd
For the Pear Breakfast Bread:
OVEN: 350 F
1/2 CUP butter, softened
1/3 CUP brown sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 TSP vanilla
1/4 CUP milk, at room temperature
1 1/2 CUP all-purpose flour
1/2 TSP baking powder
1/2 TSP baking soda
1/2 TSP salt
1/2 TSP cinnamon
1/2 TSP ginger
1/4 TSP nutmeg
3 pears, peeled, cored, diced, and stewed with 2 TBSP water or pear juice and a pinch each of cinnamon, ginger, & nutmeg until reduced to about 1 cup
Demerara sugar, for sprinkling on top
Using electric beaters, or a mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing to fully incorporate before adding the next. Add vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add to butter/sugar mixture along with the stewed pears and milk. Mix until just combined.
Pour into parchment-lined loaf pan, sprinkle the top with demerara sugar, and bake at 350 F for 30-40 minutes until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean.
For the Pear Curd:
1 CUP pear juice
3 egg yolks
1/3 CUP sugar
4 TBSP butter
1/2 TSP corn starch or tapioca starch
Peel, core, and dice the pear and puree with the pear juice in a blender or food processor until smooth.
In a metal bowl over a bowl of simmering water, combine pear puree, egg yolks and sugar. Whisk constantly. Add butter, a tablespoon at a time and continue whisking, letting each knob of butter melt and incorporate completely before adding the next. Continue whisking until mixture lightly coats the back of a spoon. Add corn starch and whisk quickly to ensure there are no lumps. The curd is done when the mixture thickly coats the back of a spoon. Allow to cool and refrigerate to set further. Keep refrigerated and serve with this Spiced Pear Breakfast Bread, or the baked good of your choice - it will last about one week in the fridge.