Pears are one of my favorite fall/winter fruits. A perfectly ripe pear is juicy, sweet and just about irresistible (especially if you have some good cheese around to pair it with). Pears often get overlooked for baking purposes in favor of heartier fruits, like apples, because pears are quite delicate and don’t hold up to baking as well as some other fruits do. That doesn’t mean that you can’t use them, however, and if you worth with a little bit of care you can get some spectacular results when baking with pears.
This Chai-Spiced Pear Bread is a wonderfully spiced quick bread that is just as good for dessert as it is for breakfast or brunch. It has plenty of fresh pears in it, as well as some toasted pistachios that add a little crunch. The trick to using pears is that you want to work with fruit that is just barely ripe – not so tender that it starts to fall apart when you pick it up. A pear that is a little bit firm is easier to peel and slice, and won’t fall apart as your loaf bakes. I used comice pears, but any pear that you like can work in this bread. I recommend using fresh pears instead of canned or jarred pears because they will be firmer and a bit easier to work with.
The bread has a good balance of sweet and spice to it. I used a combination of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and allspice here, which gives the bread a spicy chai tea flavor to it. The juicy pear really stands out and I cut my pears into large (1-inch) pieces to make sure they had an impact. The pistachios also work very well with the pears, and add just one more flavor element to this loaf, though walnuts would be a good choice too.
Chai-Spiced Pear Bread
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 med pears, peeled and cut in large dice (approx 1 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup toasted pistachios
1 tbsp coarse sugar, for topping
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, egg, sugar and vanilla until well combined. Whisk in half of the flour mixture, followed by the milk. Whisk in remaining flour mixture.
When all of the dry ingredients have just been incorporated and no streaks of flour remain, fold in pears and pistachios with a spatula trying to distribute the pieces evenly.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle the top with coarse sugar.
Bake for 55-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs stuck to it.
Allow loaf to cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the bread and turn the loaf out. Peel of parchment paper and set the loaf upright on a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.