Food and Drink


In Season: Pears

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Autumn is a great time of the year in Melbourne. Still mornings, soft yellow light, a gentler sun – and new season pears. I love pears. Right now they’re plentiful, cheap, delicious and so very versatile.

If you’re passing through the farming areas on the outskirts of Melbourne, look out for orchards selling their pears direct and pick up bag. They’ll ripen slowly and reward with a myriad of uses. With roquette, blue cheese and walnuts in a salad, rhubarb in a crumble, poached in sweet white wine or added to bircher muesli.

At the moment the best varieties are Beurre Bosc and William. They have quite different textures, the brown skinned Beurre Bosc having a deeper flavour and firmer texture, while green-skinned Williams drip with juice when ripe. Try cutting Beurre Bosc into wedges, toss them in castor sugar, lay them on a baking tray (skin side down) then place them in a slow oven (150°) to lightly caramelise and dry. Eat with a dollop of yoghurt.

Here’s a light cake I make at this time of the year. You can add raspberries or dried cranberries by folding them into the finished batter for a little added acidic zing if you like.

Pear Cake
125g Butter (softened)
1 cup Castor Sugar
1 cup Self Raising Flour
1 Egg (beaten)
50ml Milk (not always required)
2 Pears

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Peel, core and cut the pear into small cubes.
Stir the flour into the creamed butter and sugar, then add the egg to form a loose batter, adding a little milk to moisten only if required.
Fold the pear into the batter.
Pour into a prepared spring-form cake tin and bake 1 hour at 180º.
Allow to cool slightly in the tin, then turn out onto a cake rack.
Dust with icing sugar. Serve still warm with lightly whipped cream, although its fine if you need to let it cool.