It's remarkable what you re-discover when you clean out your bookshelf. Being a cookbook reviewer, I'm confronted with the issue of never really getting the chance to try out every recipe I want to in a particularly good volume... especially when I'm constantly being inspired to cook and bake from fellow bloggers instead!
I finally decided to clean up my bookshelf (and my room, for that matter... it's a scary place) the other day and noticed that a lot of the tomes on the shelf still had "make me" sticky notes on the pages. One book that caught my eye was Prairie Home Breads: 150 Splendid Recipes from America's Breadbasket by Judith Fertig, since I remembered having great success with one of the other loaves in it and knew there was a handful of very interesting ones left to try! Since I was due to make a loaf of bread for Mom anyways I leafed through and settled on the Spicy Pear Bread given what I had on hand, even though my mom is a little ambivalent about the fruit.
Apparently this bread is known as bierenbrot in it's homeland of Switzerland and came to American plates via Wisconsin. However, since I was making it for my mom and not an über-traditional Swiss native, I knew I had to make a few modifications for her tastes. One of my favourite spices - cardamom - replaced the anise, followed by a good glug of pear liqueur, brown sugar, butter (not lard) and some whole wheat bread flour. I only had instant yeast on hand, so I used that instead. The dough is very moist and sticky, and the loaf will overflow your loaf pan if your pears are anything bigger than tiny, but that all translates into a moist, sweet, chewy result! If you're overly worried about the volume of dough you've got, you can make 2 or 3 buns in greased jumbo muffin tins and bake those for 20-25 minutes too.
Submitted to Yeastspotting
Spicy Pear Bread
Makes 1 loaf, 16 slices
1 cup diced unsulphured dried pears
1 cup pear juice or nectar
1/2 cup pear liqueur like Golden Pear (you can also use a fruity dessert wine, or more pear nectar)
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 cups whole wheat bread flour
2 small pears, peeled and diced (I used Comice pears)
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 - 2 cups all purpose flour
- Combine dried pears, pear nectar and pear liqueur in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until the fruit is still somewhat firm but has begun to soften.
- Stir in the water, sugar and butter and set aside to cool to lukewarm.
- Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the yeast, ginger, cardamom, and whole wheat bread flour.
- Add the cooked pear mixture and the fresh pears, and mix on medium-low speed until combined.
- Add the salt and the all purpose flour and continue mixing to form a slightly sticky, stiff dough.
- Cover bowl and let rise 1 1/2 hours.
- Deflate the dough and turn into a well greased 9x5" loaf pan. Re-cover and let rise until it just crests the top of the pan, about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 325F.
- Bake the loaf on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes, until temperature is 200F in the centre.
- Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
Total Fat: 1.3 g
Cholesterol: 1.9 mg
Sodium: 9.0 mg
Total Carbs: 42.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.0 g
Protein: 4.6 g