The pear lends itself to many different treatments in the kitchen, both savoury (with slices of blue cheese) and sweet (in tarts and conserves), raw, cooked and preserved. Often an overlooked orchard fruit, one solitary pear tree can often produce a reliable crop year after year and it’s a great tree to train against a wall or fence, to add an ornamental touch to the garden. There are lots of delicious pear recipes but the one below is a french creation that celebrates the sweet flavour of pears.
Douillons aux poires
These pastry-covered pears are a speciality of Normandy. Some people stuff the pears with cinnamon, brown sugar or almond paste, or wrap the pastry round the pear like a removed peel – but start simple then experiment.
4 pears, ripe but firm
150g plain flour
100g vanilla sugar (sugar with a vanilla pod stored in its jar)
100ml acidulated water (cold water into which you have squeezed ½ lemon)
egg wash (an egg beaten with a spoonful of milk)
Cut the butter into small cubes, put into a bowl with the flour and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
Add a pinch of salt and bring the flour and butter together with acidulated water.
Gather the dough up into cling film, knead briefly through the cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (Gas 6).
Roll out the pastry to about 3mm thick and cut into four squares.
Peel the pears and remove the core carefully, keeping the pear whole, and pop into a bowl of acidulated water.
Pour out the vanilla sugar, remove the pears from the water, dry off and roll in the sugar.
Put into the centre of the pastry square, gather pastry around the pear and seal with egg wash.
Brush with egg wash and place on a greased baking tray, refrigerating again if time.