Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Autumn fruits

We have a pear tree in our garden.  It is a very old and gnarled pear tree. Except for 3 or 4 days in spring when it blossoms, I would go as far as to say it is a very ugly tree. It does however, produce lots of pears.

I spend most of the summer with mild concussion after cracking my head on said pears each time I hang out the washing. Else I'm cursing the tree for throwing most of our garden into shade.

Now, I have no idea what variety these pears are.  The skin is tough as old boots, but if you peel them they are actually quite tasty.  This year I was determined not to let them go to waste - I have tried lots of suggested storage methods, but they they go rotten very quickly.  Our greedy dog usually manages to get most of the windfall ones, scoffing them from breakfast when I let her out in the garden for her morning tiddle.  She snuffles around in the undergrowth like a big fat truffle pig, searching out any that may have fallen over night.

These are the ones we managed to get to before the dog.  Quite a haul - I reckon around 40 or so.  As Ruby refuses point blank to try fresh pear we decided this year that we'd juice them.  I have a small electric juicer but to be honest, its pretty rubbish. You can only juice about one fruit at a time and it tends to give a  juice with a very unpleasant looking greyish foam sitting on the top.

I briefly toyed with the idea of making Perry, but as the old man is tee-total (as of course is Ruby at only 2 and a half!), I felt this was a wee bit selfish.  So, juice it was.  I borrowed a fruit press from my brother (who seems to be harbouring his own ambitions of cider brewing), and gave the old man a work-out turning the corkscrew press.  The end result was a very pleasant tasting juice.  I was amazed at how much juice came out - we got 3 bottles from around 35 pears, and 2 I saved in plastic bottles and popped in the freezer.  This juice is one sure-fire way of getting my fruit-phobic child to ingest some vitamins.

The few remaining pears that weren't battered and bruised, were transformed into one of my favourite autumn dishes - pear and almond cake.  I use a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe, and it's so simple even I can manage it!  It's a basic almond sponge mix, on which you sit poached pears.

The end result is a moist 'dessert' cake - perfect served warm with a hearty dollop of whipped cream or mascarpone.  I served it up last night, and the old man declared it "immense".  I'll take that as a compliment!

I had a little nut tree,
Nothing would it bear
But a silver nutmeg,
And a golden pear;
The King of Spain's daughter
Came to visit me,
And all for the sake
Of my little nut tree.

Her dress was made of crimson,
Jet black was her hair,
She asked me for my nut tree
And my golden pear.
I said, "So fair a princess
Never did I see,
I'll give you all the fruit
From my little nut tree.


  1. ahhhh, looks really good, and a proper winter cake too. It's so cold outside I've been roasting stuff for the past 3 days! must make a cake this weekend as it's my man's birthday. Not sure if I'll make an actual cake as I'm contemplating attempting some red velvet cupcakes??! very unsure but when we were in NY in June my guy really loved these...

    Lovely post xxx

  2. Hi, thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment. xx

    Red velvet cupcakes sound very sexy ;0) Hope he has a fantastic birthday x

  3. omg that cake looks AMAZING