#436 Worcestershire Pear Soufflé

I like to eat as seasonally and as locally as possible, especially when it comes to fresh fruit. However, this is impossible in the middle of winter when all there is to eat are the ubiquitous apples and pears, so I cast my net a little further this time of year.

However, it is easy to forget what a delicious and versatile fruit the pear can be; especially when aromatic and very ripe, its optimum state according to the late, great broadcaster Terry Woganwho said it had to be so ripe and messy that the only way to eat one was hovering over the sink completely naked.
A ripe pear is a gastronomic delight. And one rarely experienced by those who buy their fruit in packets at the supermarket, following the ‘best before’ dates to the letter. If you have a large, ripe pear, leave it in the fruit bowl as long as you dare, you won’t be disappointed. If you need to feed several people, use it to make a soufflé like this one.
The peariness can be enhanced – should you like – with some pear brandy. This can come in the form of a calvados that uses perry (pear cider) in its manufacture, or the liqueur Poire William. These can be tricky to get hold of, so you could go with the cherry liqueur, Kirsch.
By the way, this is the last of two sweet soufflés from the book (the other being #293 Mrs Beeton’s Chocolate Soufflé), and the last of the entire book (there are several soufflérecipes in the book). Not only that, it the last of the recipes in the behemoth that is the Puddingschapter of the book!
First of all, preheat your oven to 200°C, and prepare your soufflé dish: Take two macarons and crush them. A good macaron should be squidgy in the middle, so I found this task much easier by freezing them and blitzing them in my food processor. Next, butter the dish well – you’ll need one around 2 ½ pints (1.5 litres) capacity for this recipe. Sprinkle the macaron dust all around the inside of the buttered dish, saving the remaining crumbs for later (see below).

Take a large, ripe pearand peel, core and quarter it. Take a fork and give it a mashing, or if feeling lazy, use a food processor or hand blender. My pear was so ripe that it started to brown almost immediately, stymie this by quickly adding the juice of half a lemon along with a tablespoon of the pear brandy (or Poire William, or Kirsch).
Place 4 ounces of butterin a mixing bowl and let it melt slowly over a pan of just simmering water. As you wait, measure out 4 ounces of vanilla sugar (posts #36 Vanilla Sugar and #266 Concentrated Vanilla Sugarshow you how) and 1 ounce of cornflour. When the butter has melted, sift these into it and beat in well with a whisk.
Separate four eggs, take the bowl off the heat and beat the yolks in one-by-one, then add the pear mixture. Whisk the whites to the stiff peak stage (when you can turn the bowl upside down and the whites stay firmly put). Add a large tablespoon of the whites to the mixture and mix in well, don’t worry about losing any air at this stage, adding a little egg white now means that the rest will be ‘accepted’ by the mixture more readily.

Tip in the rest of the egg white, fold it into the pear mixture with a metal spoon. I found that the mixture was too runny to mix the whole lot together well – I presume I didn’t let the cornflour thicken enough. Pour the mixture into the soufflé dish, sprinkle with the remaining macron crumbs and put in the oven. 


After 3 minutes, turn down the heat to 190°C and cook for another 27 minutes (i.e. half an hour in all).

Serve immediately!


#436 Worcestershire Pear Soufflé. I’m not sure what to make of this recipe – it tasted delicious, the overripe pear, alcohol and hint of vanilla made for quite a heady aromatic hit, but the texture was a little wrong; the mixture essentially sank to the bottom, not getting incorporated properly, and remained very liquid. I know that a good souffléshould be light at the top and saucy in the centre, but here the contrast was a bit too much. I think that Jane’s instructions were not clear enough regarding the base mixture – perhaps the butter-sugar-cornflour mixture should have been cooked until very thick before adding the rest of the ingredients. I think that this is worth trying again to get right as it should have been an excellent pud. In conclusion, flavour excellent, but recipe perhaps too vague: 7/10

#430 Granny Milton’s Pears in Brandy

Here is recipe that uses up a glut of hard ‘windfall’ pears, should you have a tree, or know of one nearby. When I first read through this recipe – quite a few years ago now – I made a note to go to Chorlton Meadows, a lovely green area in Manchester that has a relatively unsullied Mersey River snaking through it. When I first started the blog, I had moved from Chorlton and had got to know it quite well, and I knew there was an area called Hardy’s Farm in the meadows, and part of the farm had been orchard full of apple and pear trees as well as gooseberry bushes.

Every year, in late summer, I made sure I visited the site of the farm and EVERY YEAR there were no tasty pears on the pear trees; they were either totally non-existent or shrivelled brown mush. To this day, I have never seen the pears there come to, as it were, fruition.

Not to be beaten, I made sure I planted a nice pear tree on my little allotment. The first year saw dozens of lovely white flowers, some of which I removed as I didn’t want to put the small tree under too much strain when it came to fruit production. It wasn’t too long before the flower petals were shed, and little pears started to grow. Eventually they reached a good size and had blushed with a delicious-looking pink colour, so I reckoned they would start falling soon. The next time I turned up to the allotment my beautiful pears had been STOLEN. I was livid.

After that the pear tree never flowered again.

These are the lengths I go to, dear readers, to follow the recipes as closely as possible; I didn’t want to simply buy some unripe pears from a shop. Anyway, I gave up and bought some.

I have no idea who Granny Milton is, but I assume she had an amazing pear tree in her garden. Well good for her.


First of all prepare your pears – be they windfall or otherwise – by peeling, coring and quartering them. You need 6 pounds in all for Granny Milton’s recipe, but it can easily be adjusted if you have a different amount.

Next zest three lemonsand mix the zest with the juice of the lemons and weigh out 4 ½ pounds of granulated sugar.

Find a large bowl and layer up the pears, zest and juice, and sugar. Cover with cling film and leave overnight.

Next day, put the pears and extracted juices in a heavy pan along with a 4 1/2-inch stick of cinnamon and 8 cloves. Put on the lid and bake slowly in an oven preheated to 140°C for 6 hours.

When the time is up, take the pears out of the oven and allow to cool down completely before stirring in 6 tablespoons of brandy. Remove the whole spices and spoon the pears with the juices into sterilised jars and seal. I found that a lot of the sugar didn’t dissolve into the pear syrup, forming a half-inch thick layer of sugar that could peeled from the base of the pan!

Leave the pears to mature in their jars in a dark cupboard or pantry for three months before eating them.

#430 Granny Milton’s Pears in Brandy. Jane doesn’t suggest what to serve these pears with. I have so far eaten them with sharp cheeses or Greek yoghurt. The pear flavour is very much preserved, and the spices really come through, giving good depth of flavour. They turned a beautiful deep translucent orange-brown colour. However, they were extremely sweet, so I’m quite glad that a lot of the sugar didn’t dissolve, I would suggest eating them with tart accompaniments. Not sure they were worth the wait! 5.5/10

#275 Pears in Syrup

“Your old virginity is like one of our French withered pears: it looks ill, it eats dryly.” Bertram, As You Like It

    

What a great quote. Shakespeare was such a bitch.

This is an old, old recipe that Griggers herself has updated rather. In Medieval times a variety of pear called Wardens were used that were rock hard and required an hour’s cooking beforehand. These days, we use eating pears so it’s a lot quicker to make. It is best though to use unripe pears for this, though it doesn’t really matter what kind.

I chose to do this recipe as the dessert to a vegan meal I cooked with my good friends Danny and Eric. I was quite surprised that there was anything vegan in the book! In fact, of the remaining desserts this was the only one.

A some of you may know, one of my gripes is picky eaters. Vegetarianism and veganism don’t come under that term ofr me though. I think making a moral stance against eating animals or using the products of animals certainly has a lots of merit. Not eating honey is a bit stupid though. Anyway, what IS annoying is veggies who ARE picky. I mean, what is the point of restricting your diet if you don’t like most stuff anyway. Luckily noone fell into that category this night!

It’s an easy recipe that can be done well in advance.
Start by peeling, halving and coring the pears – you will need one per person according to Jane. Pop them in a pan in a single layer and pour over enough red wine to cover them. Add too, two tablespoons of sugar, a cinnamon stick and a good pinch of ground ginger. Cover them and bring to a simmer until they are nice and tender. This takes a good 25 minutes, but the time will depend on the variety and ripeness of the pears used. Remove the pears with a slotted spoon and keep warm whilst you boil down the wine until you get a nice slightly syrupy sauce. Add more sugar if you like. Pour over the pears and allow to cool. No need to serve anything else with them.

[If you don’t want to use wine, it can be adapted – swap the wine for water and the cinnamon for a split vanilla pod and add one sliced quince for every two pears cooked. Cook the fruit slowly to achieve a honey scented deep red sauce.]
#275 Pears in Syrup. This was a really good dessert. I’d actually put this one off because I expected to dislike it, but was totally wrong. The concentrated red wine sauce wasn’t heavy or sickly like I thought it would be, but light and refreshing. It must have been the pears and the spices that lightened the whole affair. That said, we could only manage half a pear each. The pudding looked quite impressive too with the dark, almost indigo sauce and the creamy-white pear flesh inside. Great stuff. 8/10.

#198 Compote of Bonchretien Pears

I’ve been rather busy of late and not had much time for cooking or blogging. Oh well, we all have fallow periods. It seems like ages ago that I did the dinner party that was just a couple of weeks ago and I’ve only just gotten round to telling you about the dessert.

I wanted to do something that I could make ahead and was seasonal too. This pear compote was the obvious choice. A nice clean tart fruit after all that cream and fried bread from the previous courses. I was concerned that I wasn’t going to find any Bonchrétien pears though – I’d never heard of them. I turns out the Bon Chrétien (which translate as ‘good Christian’) pears are a type of Williams pear, the most common of the pears.

This recipe is another from Hannah Glasse, a book called The Complete Confectioner, published in 1790 – there are no specific weights and cooking times really, which is a good thing as there is a huge variation in sweetness and folks’ tastes too. Do buy good pears for this though; don’t worry if they are under-ripe.

Peel, core and slice your pears. Plunge them into a pan half-full with boiling water that has been acidulated with lemon juice. Bring to the boil and simmer for two minutes before draining and returning to the pan. If your pears are particularly hard, they may need a little more time; if they are soft, I probably wouldn’t simmer them at all. Gently stew the fruit with some sugar to taste for a few minutes, either over the hob or in the oven. Make sure the pan is covered well. To add extra flavour and interest add some pared lemon peel or a split vanilla pod (I went with the latter). Once tender, remove from the heat, squeeze some orange juice over the pears and leave to cool, covered. Griggers or Glasse make no suggestions for accompaniments, so I went with vanilla ice cream.

#198 Compote of Bonchrétien Pears. I don’t cook with pears very often and this is first time I’ve made a compote from them. They were are very good end to a rich meal, and the vanilla made them extra-delicious. I think that we should all swap our apples for pears whenever we think about making a crumble or pie this autumn or winter. 8/10

#75 Lockets Savoury

Now that it is late summer many English orchard fruits are at their best. This recipe uses pears, and it’s very important to use good ripe ones; if you do buy those rock hard types that can be used as blunt weapons, just let them ripen on a sunny windowsill. I don’t really eat that many pears, and certainly don’t cook with them often; I’m not sure why because I really like their sweet aromatic flavour. If you are like me and haven’t cooked with pears, then start with this one as it’s very simple yet effective – basically pears and Stilton cheese on toast. Why it is called Lockets Savoury I have no idea.

This recipe is for one person, so just multiply up depending on how many you need:

Start by toasting two slices of white bread and cutting off the crusts. Place the toast in a baking dish. Rinse some water cress and place it over the toast in a good layer. Peel, core and thinly sliced a pear (I used Comice) and place the slices on top of the watercress – no need to be neat! Finally thinly slice 2 ounces of Stilton cheese and place it evenly over the slices. Bake for 10 minutes at 175°C, and grate plenty of black pepper on top before serving.

#75 Lockets Savoury – 6.5/10. A delicious and quick dinner or tea. Warming the pars makes them even more aromatic and sweet than usual, which contrasts beautifully with the Stilton, plus the toast and watercress remain intact and don’t go soggy. However, I wonder how much better it is than just some pears, Stilton, salad and some good biscuits. There’s not much in it I reckon.