Poached Pear and Spice Loaf from Boiled Wheat Blog by Kristen McSorley Bozeman Montana Food Photographer
Autumn,  Recipes,  Seasonal,  Sweet

Poached Pear and Spice Loaf — Baking into Autumn

I didn’t realize how desperately I had starved for a true Autumn until it arrived. “Alaska in the fall” doesn’t really exist beyond the three days you may see yellow leaves before everything’s hastily buried in snow. Existing slightly closer to the equator has given me the classic gradual slope of changing seasons, and my kitchen is a happy reflection of it all. Spiced teas, pumpkin cakes, and an abundance of colorful squashes will be present in my next few posts, so get ready!

Today, we’re kicking off with a recipe that just so happened to go really well on the very first attempt–a welcomed and rare miracle. So it’s probably going to give you good luck if you bake it. And if not… well, then you have some sweet bread to console you.

Poached Pear and Spice Loaf from Boiled Wheat Blog by Kristen McSorley Bozeman Montana Food Photographer

In full transparency, the poaching of the pears in this recipe is not truly necessary if you’re using soft, very ripe pears. The pears I used were tender and fully ripe, but I poached them in this recipe anyway just to add some extra flavor. The first time I tested this loaf, I only simmered the pears to make them softer, and when baked, the bread was perfectly spiced, but the pears were rather plain in comparison. I wouldn’t have needed to poach these pears this time for any textural reason, but simmering them with a liberal helping of spices seemed to balance out the flavors perfectly.

Now, if you’re like me, you can burn through a loaf of sweet bread–by yourself– in just about 1.5 days. Zucchini, banana, and pumpkin breads are at least 80% of my annual winter weight gain… and you know what? I really don’t mind. Younger me would despair at the inevitable reality of an extra 5-10 lbs in the winter, but current me has a husband with an eye for thick hips and a love for herself as voracious as her appetite.

I’ll quit writing in the third person now. But you you get my point, right?

I know I’m going to start eating a lot of bread and sweets in the coming months, and I know I’m going to be going outside less, and sleeping more. But I also know that I will enjoy it. And spring will come and that will change. When I browse social media lately, I see too many of my women-friends beginning their pre-holiday body panic. Can we stop seeing our personal natural cycles as the end of the earth? Dread over minor changes to your body are a part of that cycle that is unnecessary, usually doesn’t help anything, and only detracts from the rest of the wonderful things we’re doing all these months. During the winter season, I move less, but I tend to grow in many other ways. I expand my artistic skill set, I read more, I take more pictures, I meditate often, I stretch more. Am I willing to ignore a few temporary pounds for all of that creation and growth? I should be. And you should be.  Not to say you must bake sweet breads! And eat them! But if you want to, do it. And don’t stress over it.

Thanks for reading my spiel.

 

Poached Pear and Spice Loaf from Boiled Wheat Blog by Kristen McSorley Bozeman Montana Food Photographer

 

Poached Pear and Spice Loaf

For the poached pears:

3 ripe Bosc or Bartlett pears, peeled, but not cored or destemmed

1 c. white wine

2 c. apple juice

1/2 t. powdered cardamom

1/2 t. ground cloves

1/2 t. grated nutmeg

1 t. ginger

1 t. cinnamon

1/4 t. salt

 

For the bread:

2 c. all-purpose flour

3/4 c. packed brown sugar

1 t. baking powder

1/2 t. salt

1 t. ground cinnamon

1 t. ground ginger

1/2 t. ground cardamom

1/2 t. ground cloves

1/2 t. ground nutmeg

2 eggs

1/2 c. liquid vegetable oil

1 t. vanilla extract

1 c. water


Add all ingredients for poached pears into a small saucepan and bring to medium heat. Let simmer, turning the pears occasionally, for about 20 minutes. Remove pears from pan and let cool. They may also drain some liquid during this time, which is fine. Discard poaching liquid, or add about a 1/4 c. brown sugar and simmer into a thick, drizzle-able, cider syrup. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare a 9×5 bread tin with parchment paper, no need to grease.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk all dry bread ingredients together until uniform. Add eggs, oil, vanilla, and water, and whisk until smooth. Pour batter into the bread tin, scraping the sides of the bowl. Pick up each pear by the stem and use a small paring knife to slightly trim the base of the pear so it can stand up. Arrange pears, and press them down into the batter until the reach the base of the tin. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour- 1 hour and fifteen minutes. (Mine was perfect at 1 hour five minutes, but I think my oven may run a bit hot). Check for doneness with a toothpick (just make sure not to stab a pear with the toothpick, or you’ll be baking forever).

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