What do I love so much about baking? Well quite simply, it’s magical. And poaching pears in tea and honey then baking them in a cake is miraculous. My first time poaching pears was two years ago on New Year’s eve. Brian and I got ambitious (mostly Brian) and wanted to make homemade Beef Wellington for dinner and poached pears wrapped in pastry for dessert. Neither of us had ever eaten Beef Wellington before but we were inspired by hours of watching Gordon Ramsey on Master Chef and Kitchen Nightmares.
We looked up a few recipes. Then we went to Whole Foods and bought $65 worth of filet mignon, pate, mushrooms, mustard, and frozen puff pastry. We executed the assembly of the wellington, baked it to perfection and when we cut into it looking for that beautiful pink indicating medium rare we discovered we had indeed succeeded. We sat down to eat dinner and both took a bite. It was Totally Disgusting.
What had we done wrong? It looked so beautiful, why did it taste so bad? Is this what Beef Wellington is supposed to taste like? Neither of us took another bite and instead gave some of the filet mignon to Panza.
To this day we have analyzed and analyzed what went wrong and settled on fact that we decided to use pate instead of ham to coat the filet. And we think the type of mushrooms we used didn’t compliment any of the rest of the dish.
The one saving grace of that entire meal were the poached pears wrapped in puff pastry and baked, served with salted caramel sauce. That was the day I discovered that doing something so simple like boiling whole fresh pears in liquid produced exceptional results. Poaching transforms a humble fruit (even those hard pears that never seem to ripen up) into the perfect delicate and succulent ripeness infused with the flavor of the poaching liquid. You can get creative with poaching liquid too. I used rooibois tea bags, honey, and whole and fresh spices. The original recipe from Bake from Scratch (https://www.bakefromscratch.com/gingerbread-pear-loaves/) used ginger beer to poach the pears!
And just to take it over the top, imagine placing those poached pears in hearty whole wheat, almond meal, and molasses loaf cake. Just look at that cross section below, pure magic I say. And it tastes as good as it looks.
Rooibos and Ginger Poached Pear Loaf
- 24 ounces water, or enough to cover most of the pears
- 3 small pears, peeled, stems intact
- 2 rooibos tea bags
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
- 6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1 egg room temperature
- 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
For the poached pears
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine water, honey, cinnamon stick, and ginger. When water starts to simmer, add tea bags and pears.
Cook pears for about 15 minutes or until a fork easily pokes the pear. Remove pears from pan and let cool.
For the loaf
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a loaf pan.
Beat together butter and brown sugar by hand or in stand mixer. When fully incorporated add molasses and then egg.
Add in all dry ingredients and then mix until just combined.
Pour batter into buttered loaf pan. Carefully place the pears upright in the batter.
Bake for about an hour and 15 minutes or until bread is no longer mushy in the middle and springs back when touched with a fingertip.