I’ve been nostalgic for my grandmother this week. Not the woman she had become, because in the end, she wasn’t the grandmother that I’d grown up knowing. I miss THAT grandmother. I miss her mannerisms. The way she would bat her hand dismissively when my grandfather said something she didn’t agree with. And I miss her cooking. These Autumn Spiced Baked pears made an appearance on her table every fall and I loved them for their flavor and simplicity. I hope you do too.
Some things to note about Madou… She liked ritual. She was proper. She always dressed for dinner — string of pearls and all. And she could cook. During the last years of her life, dementia had robbed her of her essence and she had become incapacitated, not always recognizing her family members, so my memories of her at her vital best have become sacred to me.
While my grandmother could cook — desserts were not her “thing”, so she kept to a tight repertoire of reliable sweets. Rice pudding, Isle Flotante (floating island), Grand Marnier souffle, cherry clafoutis and these baked pears.
She would drape the pastry over the sugared and spiced fruit and pinch the ends together with her fingers. It wasn’t always pretty but it was always good.
I’m pretty sure I inherited Madou’s pastry skills — which is to say, they are seriously lacking, but even my rudimentary technique gets the job done. By the way, this isn’t supposed to look like a rabbit — those are my own rendition of leaves attached to the stem of the pear – LOL!
As it bakes, the pear gets soft and juicy, while the crust (thank you Pillsbury) gets flaky and golden. Don’t skip the egg wash step as that’s what’s responsible for the soft shine on the pastry.
The pears should be served warm and preferably with a scoop of vanilla or a dollop of whipped cream for good measure, but they’re good on their own as well.
Autumn Spiced Baked Pears
A simple elegant fall dessert, like pie but without the effort.
- 1 ready made pastry crust I used Pillsbury
- 2 ripe bartlett or bosc pears
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 egg lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 450°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and spices and set aside.
Peel the pears with a vegetable peeler and slice in half vertically. Sprinkle the pears on both sides with the sugar and spice mixture and set aside.
Roll out the pastry dough and cut into four equal pieces (top to bottom and side to side so that you have 4 pizza pie looking pieces of dough (I use a pizza cutter to cut the dough). Place one pear, flat side up on the pastry with the stem end facing the point.
Use the pastry cutter to trim about 1" of excess dough from the bottom of the "crust side of the pizza slice". Place the trimmed piece toward the top 1/3 of the pear. Wrap the bottom portion of the dough around the pear and seal it by pinching it together with your fingers. If it doesn't completely surround the pear, that's ok. You just want it to hold together.
Transfer the pastry wrapped pear, flat side down to the baking sheet. Continue with the remaining pears
Brush the outside of the pastry dough with egg wash. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and pears are softened. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before transferring to plates to serve. Great with ice cream or whipped cream!
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