Moister than a quick bread and not as sweet as a layer cake, this pear loaf is a treat for all seasons and any time of the day. In summer, I use Bartlett pears, and in winter, Comice, but no matter when you make the cake, be sure to use the most fragrant and flavourful pears you can find.
You can also replace some of the pears with apples, which will add extra texture and flavour, especially if you use slightly tart varieties like King of the Pippins or Belle de Boskoop. For a large number of guests, you can double the ingredients, dividing the batter between two loaf pans of the same size for even baking.
- 7 tbsp (4 oz./110 g) salted butter, softened and divided, plus extra for greasing
- ¾ cup (3½ oz./110 g) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1¼ lb. (600 g) ripe pears, preferably Bartlett or Comice (depending on the time of year)
- Generous 1 tbsp honey
- Scant ⅔ cup (3 oz./90 g) confectioners’ sugar
- 2 eggs
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- 1 pinch salt
- Green tea
1Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C/Gas mark 6). Grease a 9 × 5-in. (22 × 11-cm) loaf pan with butter, dust with flour, and set aside in the refrigerator. If you use a silicone pan, there is no need to grease, flour, or chill it.
2Peel the pears and cut them into ¾-in. (2-cm) dice. Melt 2 tablespoons (1 oz./30 g) of the butter with the honey in a skillet over high heat. Add the pears and cook until they begin to turn golden, stirring constantly with two spatulas. When you smell caramel, remove the skillet from the heat.
3Using an electric beater, whisk together the remaining butter and the sugar in a large bowl until creamy and light. Whisk in the eggs one at a time and, using a spatula, fold in the flour, baking powder, and salt until just combined. Carefully fold in the pears and then transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
4Bake for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 350°F (180°C/Gas mark 4) and bake for an additional 30 minutes, until a rich golden brown. If the top is browning too quickly, cover with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack.
5Serve the cake warm with green tea—gyokuro and kuckicha from Japan are two I particularly like.
Extracted from Enjoy: Recipes for Memorable Gatherings by Perla Servan-Schreiber (Flammarion, 2020).