Sweet pears in a breakfast cake

Pears are good at any time of the day - cut into cubes and folded into plain yogurt with some granola on top for breakfast, eaten with cheese and French bread for a simple picnic lunch, or baked and filled with cranberry-orange relish to accompany chicken at dinner.

For immediate use, look for pears in the grocery that are yellow-skinned with flesh that yields to slight, gentle pressure. Quite often you will find that pears in the market are slightly underrripe, and will ripen slowly at home to their characteristic sweetness. When ripe, they should be refrigerated until used.

Try this on a lazy Saturday morning. Pear Ginger Brunch Cake; 2 fresh pears 3 tablespoons butter or margarine 1/2 cup brown sugar 1 teaspoon ginger 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel 1 teaspoon grated orange peel 1 egg 1/2 cup milk 1 1/2 cups sifted flour 1/2 cup sugar 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 cup melted shortening 3/4 teaspoon salt

Halve and core pears. Cut into wedges. Melt butter in bottom of 8-inch round cake pan. Arrange pear wedges over bottom in spiral pattern. Combine brown sugar , ginger, and peels. Sprinkle half of mixture over pears. Beat egg, shortening, and milk together.

Sift flour with sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add to egg mixture, stirring just until blended. Pour over pears. Sprinkle remaining brown-sugar mixture over top. Marble through batter with knife.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before inverting onto plate. Serve warm. Serves 6. Peachy Pear Preserves 1 pound firm-ripe pears, peeled and cored 1 pound peaches, peeled and pitted 1 1/2 pounds sugar

Cut up fruit into coarse chunks. Mix with sugar and let stand 12 hours. Bring to a slow boil, stirring often; then boil rapidly until fruit is translucent. Pour into a sterilized jar and seal. Makes about 1 quart.

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