I am ashamed that I am just now sharing this recipe with you all. Of all the food to ever come out of my kitchen, this bread is by far the item I love to share the most. It is simply really good. The pear is such an unexpected element. It melts beautifully into the subtle spice of the bread. It takes a common idea, like banana or zucchini bread, and elevates it. If I was to invite Nigella Lawson over for tea, I would make her this bread. I firmly believe she would adore it.
I love this recipe not only for the outcome but also for it's practicality. When pears are overripe, a mushy grittiness appears that I cannot handle. This recipe is an excellent place to stash 2 to 3 pears that have overstayed their welcome.
I wanted to share this recipe the week of Thanksgiving as I would guess a few folks may be decorating their table with assorted fall fruits or receiving fruit baskets thank you's from turkey-day guests. Should you find yourself with a couple pears past their prime, please take a moment to try this out.
This recipe is from The Joy of Cooking.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I bump this up a bit and use fresh ground)
1 large egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups grated peeled ripe pears, with juice (generally 2-3 pears)
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (I omit)
1) Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5-inch (8 cup) loaf pan.
2) Whisk together thoroughly the dry ingredients.
3) In a separate large bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients (egg, oil, vanilla, lemon zest and juice, and grated pear.)
4) Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and fold until about three-quarters of the dry ingredients are moistened. Add the pecans (if using) and fold just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
5) Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes before unmolding to cool completely on the rack.