Pears trees can live a very long time and so in Chinese traditions, the pear is linked to immortality. It is also connected to partings as the word for separation and pear is the same and is the source of the custom of not sharing pears with others.
The tale of Prometheus links golden pears (sometimes apples) with fire being given to mankind, a highly appropriate connection to the solar festival of Mabon. Prometheus, a Titan, wasn’t big on the Gods. He much preferred the humans he had been commanded to create from water and earth. Zeus did not intend them to have any special gifts but Prometheus decided to steal fire for them. He tricked the Gods by throwing a golden pear into a place where they were gathered. With the pear was a message that it was for the most beautiful Goddess and as all the Goddesses fought over the pear, the Gods looked on, their concentration taken by the fight. Prometheus sneaked by the group, stole fire and gave it to mankind. He was caught and punished but fire stayed with the humans he had created and cared about.
Pomona, Hera and Aphrodite ( and their Roman counterparts ) held the pear sacred and Homer called pears, the “Gift of the Gods”. In England, nutmeg and pears have been connected at least since the time of Henry VII and probably longer.
“I had a little nut tree,
Nothing would it bear
But a silver nutmeg,
And a golden pear”
Nursery rhymes never really being intended for children, a cup of tea, a slice of fresh baking and this link might make for a speculative break from the everyday.
Pears ripen best off of the tree. Gritty organic materials can gather gather on the skin of they are harvested too late.
You will need:
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
3/4 cup pecan, chopped
breadcrumbs or flour for pan
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup white sugar, possibly ( more on this below)
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. extract (I used rum)
1 cup pear sauce
1 2/3 cup sifted flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. nutmeg
Today, ” In the kitchen, filled with Care, I welcome, Earth, Fire, Water Air “, might hold a little extra meaning and gratitude as we thank Prometheus for his labour and gifts. Taking a deep breath in, close you eyes. Hold your breath for a moment bringing your focus into the present moment. Release and repeat as needed. When you are feeling clear and centered…..
Grease a 5 x 9 pan and either flour or lightly dust with fine breadcrumbs. The layer of dry ingredient, creates a barrier between the pan and the batter, helping it to release more easily from the pan after baking. The breadcrumbs will give the loaf a little more crunch around the edges.
Combine the first five ingredients (everything before the breadcrumbs) and set aside for later.
To prepare the batter begin with a fresh bowl and add the liquid ingredients, oil (or melted butter) eggs, pear sauce and extract. I found myself out of rum flavouring so I went straight for the real stuff. Use vanilla or almond extract if you prefer.
Stir well and add the sugar. When I made my pear sauce I added sugar, so when baking this loaf, I only added the brown sugar. If you have unsweetened pear sauce, this recipe will need the additional white sugar. If pear sauce is not available, substituting applesauce is possible.
Once the sugar has been mixed in, combine the dry ingredients and sift over the wet ingredients and then fold both together.
An option is to reduce the nutmeg to 1/2 tsp. and add 1/2 tsp. ginger and 2 Tbsp. finely chopped ginger in syrup.
Do not over mix. Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread out to the edges. Top with half the nut mixture and again spread out to the edges. Repeat with the last of the batter and top with the remaining nuts.
This is one I use the toohtpick test on as it is not possible to see the top of the cake and it will look ready before the middle is baked. Pop a fresh toothpick into the centre of the cake and pull out. There should be no sticky batter attached to the toothpick.
Allow to cool for a good 15 minutes then gently remove from the pan. You will most likely loose some of the topping, don’t worry. Let the loaf continue to cool. It will be a little more fragile as the batter is separated by the nut mixture in the middle so this is where the dusting of the pan pays off.
A gently spiced quick bread with a crunchy pecan filling and topping; perfect for an afternoon get together, elevenses or Mabon Cakes and Ale.
Pear and Pecan Loaf from My Kitchen Wand