No, our pear tree has no partridge, but that's about the only thing it lacks.
Were we excited when we looked out our patio door and spotted the telltale signs of growth on our relatively new pear, which we have had in the ground only about two years!
"They'll be small this year," Hubby projected, ever optimistically, about the expected fruit. "Next year will probably be its year to shine."
Happily he was wrong. The small green projections kept growing and burgeoning--until they suddenly became the size of those you see in the grocery store produce aisle. They even sported a trace of characteristic amber blush, as though they were straight out of a still-life painting. Just beautiful. We admired and admired--but didn't pick. They still were way too firm to the touch.
"They'll ripen up soon," Hubby projected.
Wrong again. The pears just kept hanging there; they weighed down the branches. Birds began eyeing them longingly, or so we feared.
As a test case we brought one of the fruit in and set it on the window ledge to ripen. Works for peaches, why not pears? A few days passed. The supposedly ripening pear still was like a brick--a beautiful brick, but decidedly non-edible. Hubby tried to cut up one to use in a smoothie--bad choice.
Good ole Google. I entered my question, "How do I get pears to ripen?" Instant comfort--I wasn't the first to struggle with this dilemma. Google empathized and furnished me the answer to someone's similar query: Place unripened pears in a brown paper bag, keep bag closed, store away from light in a dry place. To speed things along, alongside them in the bag place another already ripe fruit. All this we did; our bagged pears hid out with a ripened apple.
Two days later--fulfillment! Wonderfully soft pears, thoroughly ripe and ready for a smoothie, Hubby supposed. Not so fast, I told him. I pulled out my Pear Cake recipe (from my new cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden). The first time I baked this cake years ago, I did so with pears from my neighbor's orchard. This time I wanted the privilege of using my own.
The recipe suggests baking the cake either in a tube pan or loaf pans; I chose the loaf pans so I could make two--one for now and one to freeze to take to my daughter next month when New Grandboy arrives. Then I added a glaze--not mentioned in Way Back in the Country Garden but a favorite that I like to use to give breakfast breads or loaf cakes a little something special.
The resulting cake with its fresh pear morsels was such a gift, I felt as though I'd been handed the partridge, two turtledoves, three French hens, four calling birds, and five golden rings all tied up in one special package.
3 cups chopped pears
2 cups sugar (I used sugar substitute)
1 cup oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs (I used egg substitute)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons soda
1 teaspoon salt (I used salt substitute)
1 cup pecans, chopped
Mix first three ingredients; let stand for one hour. Beat eggs and add to pear mixture. Sift all dry ingredients together and add to pear mixture. Add chopped pecans. Pour into greased and floured tube pan or two loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
3/4 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon butter flavoring
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup orange juice
Mix ingredients in bowl. Immediately when the cake is out of the oven, use toothpick to pierce the cake all over, but don't leave the toothpick in the cake. Spoon glaze over each loaf. Allow to cool in pans.