Pear Bread

Every time the holidays roll around, one of dad's bosses always sends us a box of pears. Most of the time, we just eat the pears as is, or my mom makes some Colombian desserts with pears in them. I had always thought that pears should be made into something else, something baked. Pear muffins don't really sound that appealing to me, but last week, when I was picking recipes to make for the week, I came across this recipe in Southern Cakes. It's a cake, that can also be doubled as a kind of bread, depending on the pan you choose to make it in. I tested it out, and am now going to include it on the holiday baking list for 2010. It's a kind of spice cake that is really similar to an applesauce spice cake. You can fool non-pear lovers into eating this, because you don't even physically feel or see the pear in it (if you're trying to figure out what that random piece of something in the picture is, it's a walnut; I decided to leave them fairly chunky as opposed to chopping them). It's light, and tasty, and goes well with coffee, tea, milk, or whatever drink you want to accompany it with.

"This spice-infused tea bread comes from the kitchen of Mrs. Cornelia Walker Bailey, historian, muse, and guardian angel of Sapelo Island, off the Georgia coast. Mrs. Bailey's family has lived on Sapelo Island since the year 1806, and her life's work is keeping their stories and wisdom alive and well. She works through words, telling stories, writing books, and sharing recipes for the food that has fed her ancestors for more than two hundred years. This one comes from a book she wrote with Yvonne J. Grovner and William "Doc Bill" Thomas: The Foods of Georgia's Barrier Islands: A Gourmet Food Guide to Native American, Geechee and European Influences on the Golden Isles. You can make this in a tube pan as a spice cake, or in two loaf pans as a tea bread."

Cornelia Walker Bailey's Pear Bread
*serves 6 to 8*

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup butter, softened
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
2 cups peeled and finely grated ripe but firm pears
2 tsp vanilla extract

1) Heat the oven to 350F, and lightly grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan or two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans.
2) Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl, and stir with a fork to mix everything well. Scoop out about 1/4 cup of the flour mixture and combine it in a small bowl with the chopped walnuts, stirring and tossing to coat the nuts with the flour.
3) In a medium bowl, combine the butter, eggs, sugar, chopped pears, and vanilla, and stir to mix everything well. Scrape the pear mixture into the flour mixture, and stir just until the flour disappears and the batter is evenly moistened.
4) Quickly scrape the batter into the prepared pan(s), and bake at 350F for 60 to 70 minutes, or until the bread is handsomely browned and firm on top, and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
5) Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack or folded kitchen towel for about 10 minutes. Then turn it out onto a plate or a wire rack to cool completely, top side up. Serve as is or sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.

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