For as long as I can remember, I have loved pears. Growing up, Pear only meant Bartlett. Green when picked, left to ripen in box or on counter, the bright yellow skin giving way easily to knife, juice on fingers and chin, my early childhood introduction to decadence and wealth. Our neighbors had grandparents with an eastern Washington fruit farm, so each late summer-early fall brought boxes of free-stone peaches, all kinds of apples, and Bartlett pears to our house. I could not appreciate the scope of such good fortune.
In my now, I have the beautiful fortune of being involved with a group of people who want to support small farms and local farms. This all-volunteer, list-serve organized group finds farmers and produce, creates spreadsheets, organizes pick-up points, giving farmers & consumers access to each other that they wouldn’t otherwise have.
For three years running, my pears have been from Vince at Valley View Farm. These pears arrive without labels to remove, picked, sorted, and packed by people I have met, grown with respect for the planet and the workers who aid, part of a dream to provide good food for a family and anyone else who connects. The 35 pounds of pears ripening in my basement took their time, teasing with some yellow, but still too crunchy for eating, until BAM-they were all ready for the kitchen.
This year we ate pears daily, I canned 7 quarts of what Junior calls “Jar Pears”, I dehydrated a load into sweet, tender deliciousness, and I used some in baking. One of my favorite uses for fresh pear is to combine with cardamom and bake into scones.
My scone recipe originates from Baking With Julia. These scones are light, not too sweet, are tasty with lemon zest only, and hold up well when adding blueberries, raspberries, apples, or pears. I use a food processor to mix the dry ingredients and cold butter, which is then poured into a mixing bowl. I next add the fruit, followed by the liquid. Scones, like biscuits, don’t want to be over-handled, preferring to be kneaded with a “light hand” just until the dough comes together. The dough is then divided into two circles, brushed with melted butter or heavy cream, cut into pieces, and baked in a hot oven.
Care taken by keeping the butter cold, pieces processed just to the size of peas, will give the scones lightness and lift as the hot oven melts the fat, leaving precious tiny pockets of air in the finished product. This recipe calls for buttermilk which I never have on hand, so I substitute sour milk: 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar poured into a 1 cup measure, add milk to fill; let sit for 5 minutes.
Try other fruits, fresh or dried, and different spices to combine with. Add a tablespoon of grated lemon or orange zest. Try out with your preferred gluten-free flour mix or vegan fat of choice, as long as the fat is solid at room temperature. In the recipe below, I used a combination of Einka and whole wheat flours, a total of 3 cups, but a useless measure when using alternative flours. I use a standard of 1 cup flour = 4.9 ounces to make conversions. Cheers!
Preheat oven to 425F
8 oz Einka
6.7 oz just-ground whole wheat
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
2 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground cardamom
6 oz cold butter, cut into small pieces
¾ cup diced pears
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
1-2 tbsp melted butter or heavy cream
Combine the dry ingredients in bowl of food processor.
Pulse to combine.
Add the bits of butter and pulse carefully until it becomes the size of peas.
Place flour mixture into large mixing bowl.
Stir in diced pears, coating well with flour.
Pour in milk, stirring gently to avoid crushing the fruit.
Gather dough into a ball, turn onto lightly floured work surface.
Knead gently & briefly, 10-12 turns at the most.
Divide dough into two equal parts, form into disks, brush with melted butter or heavy cream.
Cut each disk into 6 wedges.
Sprinkle with coarse sugar for an added sweet and sparkly finish.
Bake 10-12 minutes.