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Autumn fruit ideas: Pears take some beating for quality and quantity at this time of the year

Poached pears take me to my happy place. My love affair with the autumnal fruit began when I was pregnant with my son, Hamish. I craved tinned fruit in natural juice, especially pears. I remember thinking it was such a funny thing to want, but at least it was healthy! Hamish is well and truly grown up now and so have my tastes.

There’s nothing wrong with tinned fruit but I prefer to poach my own – 100 Mile Foodie style. I was recently overrun with pears, thanks to the generosity of our dog groomer. They have a private orchard in Bittern and shared some of the fruit with me. I have a tub full of Beurre Boscs and Williams to get creative with!

The best thing about this cooking method is that you can easily tweak it to suit your palate. If you prefer to savour the natural sweetness of the fruit you can simply use water as your poaching liquid. Or, if you want a syrup to serve with the pears just add some sugar. The more sugar you add the heavier the syrup, and there’s my favourite addition – wine. Today I’m sharing my poaching method for vanilla pears and a recipe for a gorgeous little cake you can pop the pears into. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Vanilla poached pears

2 litres water
350g caster sugar
1 Vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped or a teaspoon of Vanilla bean paste
12x 120-150g Beurre Bose pears, peeled and cored

Place the water, sugar and vanilla in a saucepan over a low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the pears, cover with a cartouche (a round of non-stick baking paper cut to fit), cook for 25-30 minutes or until tender. Drain on paper towel, set aside and allow to cool.

Poached Pear and Vanilla Cakes

Vanilla poached pears can be used in so many ways that, in this recipe, I am going to pop them into a gorgeous little cake, which should be eaten straight from the oven with the best thick cream you can find.

125 g butter, softened
150g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon honey
190g self-raising flour
125ml milk

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Place the butter and caster sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until pale and creamy. Adding one egg at a time, vanilla and honey, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour and milk.

Place 12 x 1 cup (250 ml) capacity straight sided paper cases on a baking tray and spoon 1/4 cup of the mixture into each case. Carefully push in the pears and bake for 30- 35 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Makes 12.

Enjoy X

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