The Joy of the Asian Pear
It is harvest season in Powell River. This is true even if you don’t have your own garden as bundles of zucchini and tomato show up on your doorstep, as if left by Harvest Elves. The fruit trees are laden with apples, pears and plums… vulnerable to black bear raiding at any time of night (or day!). Weekend afternoons are spent performing the canning ritual for jams, jellies and chutneys.
Last week, my friends Nancy and Brenda were picking fruit from Nancy’s tree and I was offered some of the fruits of their labour. A few hours later Brenda appeared at my door with a huge bag of… something I had never seen before.
Pear Apples? Apple Pears?
Yes. Apple Pears. Also known as Nashi Pears or Asian Pears, the fruit is native to Japan and China for, oh, the last 3000 years or so. They look like an apple, taste like a pear. They are delicious eaten raw, sliced with some smoked havarti or added to a salad.
But since I had a collection of about 40 of these tasty morsels, and I love to bake, I went in search of some recipes specifically for the Asian Pear. I found two that I will share with you: Asian Pear Muffins and Asian Pear Cake. Both were easy to make and tasted delicious, perfect fall fare. I will make them again next year, if I am lucky enough to find Asian Pears on my doorstep. (Yes, this is a hint and you know who you are!)
Spiced Asian Pear Muffins
2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar (white or brown, your choice – I used brown)
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup yogurt (I used 1/2 c yogurt + 1/2 c sour cream)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons molasses
1 1/2 cups finely chopped asian pear
In a large bowl, combine first 8 ingredients. In another bowl, beat the egg, yogurt, oil and molasses until smooth. Stir into dry ingredients until moistened. Fold in pears. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until tester comes out clean.
Asian Pear Cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 large eggs
Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
Combine the fruit mixture ingredients. Cover and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, sugars, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix thoroughly. Stir in the oil, vanilla and eggs until well blended. Add the fruit mixture and stir until blended.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, evening out with the spoon. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Then, turn out onto rack to cool completely. Transfer to a serving plate and dust with icing sugar.
Share with us your annual harvest.
What is your favourite from your garden or your best gift from the Harvest Elves?
Special Thanks to my Harvest Elves, Nancy & Brenda.
Muffin recipe adapted from Party-in-the-Pantry.
Cake recipe adapted from Diana Rattray, Southern Food Expert