Deb from Smitten Kitchen gave the blog world a beautiful gift for Christmas this year: Pear Bread. I was excited about this recipe from the moment I saw it, although it took me almost 3 months to get around to making. It did not disappoint.
Why search for something other than banana bread when it’s already so good? Well, if you click the link in the first paragraph of the recipe on Smitten Kitchen, you’ll find out why. In short, it’s because banana companies make bad choices for the environment and for people. I didn’t cut bananas from our diet as soon as I heard about this. I found out about the banana problem by listening to The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter by Peter Singer and Jim Mason (available here) last summer while I was making gelato. I still bought bananas for the same reason I started buying them shortly after I got married: they’re cheap and Dexter likes them. They’ve grown on me, but I only eat them because they’re so darn easy. If I could bring myself to eat an apple without washing it, I would definitely eat an apple instead. But I think I take after an aunt who eats one banana a year to get in all of her obligatory banana nutrients. We made a mostly-kinda-partial switch to cruelty-free dairy last year (more details on that later), and I’ve been experimenting with adding more fairly-traded (although not necessarily Fair Trade), organic items to our grocery list without blowing our budget. I sprang for some past-their-prime bananas at New Pi for $.39/lb and made banana bread. After that, I haven’t been able to buy bananas. I haven’t been able to buy regular bananas because of my ethical quandaries, but I haven’t been able to buy fairly traded bananas because they’re $1/lb and they’re BANANAS! It’s a good thing I don’t have a banana obsession, or I would really be in trouble.
So, if you’re buying organic, pear bread will actually be more expensive to make than banana bread. I paid $1.59/lb for my pears. I had to, though, because I could not stand not making pear bread for any longer. So away I went, and my lovely and talented sister Keriann came along with me.
Here are my ingredients. My flour was an unknown-ratio mixture of white and whole-wheat flour. I made it by accident a long time ago and thought this would be a good time to use it up. This bread was so moist that I think you could use 100% whole wheat flour and not have a problem. Heck, you could probably even throw in some flax.
I mixed my dry ingredients, but then I decided that a little freshly grated nutmeg would liven up the party. It did.
The recipe said to peel the pears. If I went to the expense of buying organic, I was not going to throw away the skin. So I left it. Plus, isn’t there a lot of nutritional value in the skin? And, I don’t peel food unless it’s completely necessary.
I think I need to get a melon baller so I can scoop out the core part. I don’t think the core detracted from the taste at all, I just think it would make for cuter pictures. When I grated the pears, I was usually left with a piece of skin that protected my fingers from the grater. I ate that piece. I used all four pears to get my 2 cups, but I had a few extra tablespoons and juice that I threw in anyway.
I mixed the wet ingredients and added them to the top of the dry ingredients. That prevents getting flour dust all over the place.
I mixed the batter with a spatula (my preferred tool for quick bread mixing) until it was combined, but no longer. Stirring longer will result in bread that doesn’t rise as much in the oven because the bubbles will have been destroyed.
Instead of using one tube pan, I used my cute half-bundts. I also used Pam with flour in it. I used my food scale to make sure that each pan had about the same amount of batter. I meant to subtract the weight of my mixing bowl from the weight of the bowl of batter, and then divide that number in half to get the ideal weight for each pan, but the weight that I sharpied onto the bottom of my bowl wore off. I just switched the pans back and forth on the scale until each pan had about 800-815 grams.
After about 15 minutes of baking, the batter was rising!
My half-bundts cooked perfectly in 40 minutes.
This artsy photo and the next one are by Dexter. The bread came out the the pans beautifully. I was supposed to wait 10 minutes before removing it from the pan, but we couldn’t wait more than 8.
We dusted each piece with powdered sugar.
I was a little disappointed at first, because although the bread smelled very apple-crisp-esque while it cooked, it tasted like banana bread right out of the oven (just without the bananas). As the bread matured over the next 36 hours, the pear flavor got stronger. The bread has the gritty texture of pears, which I really enjoyed, especially since I didn’t include nuts in my bread. One of the humans at our house doesn’t like nuts in bread because it’s tricky. He’s coming around though. The bread is gone now.