The Gourmet Touch: You could eat an apple a day, but why not try a pear?
by Prudence Hilburn
Special to The Star
Sep 12, 2012 | 2022 views |  0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It is always exciting when the homegrown pears are ready for the picking. Although I don’t have any pear trees, I am blessed with friends who share their harvest with me each year. My friend Debbie Harvey brought me two large boxes of the best pears I have had in a long time. Some were quite large and, of course, they are delicious.

Originally, I had planned to make pear preserves, but then I decided I would like to vary the use of the pears this year. I think I will make pear butter using my recipe for crockpot apple butter. I have done this before and it turns out great.

As you probably already know, pears can be substituted for apples in almost any recipe. I really like apple cakes, so I opted to make a pear cake, combining ideas from two different apple cake recipes. I shared some of the cake with a friend, Virginia Hoff, and she said it is one of the best cakes she has ever eaten. It is super moist and freezes well, if you have any left to freeze.

If you like caramel flavor, you can use all brown sugar instead of the mix of the two sugars called for in the following recipe. I was also thinking that perhaps the next time, I will add some pecans. Knowing that apple cakes sometimes call for raisins, I plan to try dried cranberries in a later version of the pear cake. The cranberries will not only add flavor but will also add a spark of color to the cake.

One of the best pear desserts I have ever made was a pear strudel. I doubt than many would like to take the time to make the special strudel dough, but anyone can make the filling and it tastes similar to fried apples. It would be especially good with some homemade sugar cookies or Southern teacakes. You might want to cut this recipe in half because it makes a lot of pear filling.

Pear Cake

1 cup butter (not margarine)
½ cup oil
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup buttermilk
2 ½ cups peeled and chopped fresh pears

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour a Bundt pan. Cream together the butter, oil, sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir to mix. Add to creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Stir in pears. Spoon into prepared pan. Bake for about an hour or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into center of cake. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Invert onto cake plate. Allow cake to cool completely before slicing.

Note: If desired, drizzle a caramel glaze over top.

Pear Filling for Strudel

½ cup butter
5 pounds pears (about 14)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅔ cup raisins

Melt the butter in a wide shallow pan and set aside. Peel, core and halve the pears. Slice the pears (making the pieces about the size of apples you would put in a pie). Add the pears to the buttered pan. Add the sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice. Toss with the pears. Cover the pan and place it over medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes. Uncover the pan and continue cooking over low heat to allow the juice to evaporate, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the raisins.
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