Pears are one of the many delicious foods that come into season in September in my region of Canada. This was a good year for the pear crop, and I have seen so many branches of pear trees literally bent over under the weight of the fruit!
Giovanni Bellini, Madonna of the Pear, c.1485. Galleria dell’Accademia Carrara, Bergamo.
In religious art, such as Giovanni Bellini’s Madonna of the Pear, the fruit can symbolise Christ’s love for mankind. However, in more secular works, pears, along with other fruit (peaches, apples and apricots) have sexual connotations about female anatomy.
Regardless of what the fruit might allude to, the sweetness of a perfectly ripe pear is unmatched. I like to pair pears—pardon the pun—with a bit of spice. The sharpness of cloves compliments the taste of the fruit, and brings to mind the spicy perfumes that so many associate with autumn.
This loaf is deliciously moist, and makes an ideal afternoon snack. The crunch of the nuts in the streusel adds a nice contrast to the softness of the fruit.
Pear Almond Streusel Loaf
For the streusel:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup chopped almonds or pecans
For the Loaf:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract (OR 2 tsp amaretto)
1 1/4 cup chopped pears, skin removed
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F degrees. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
2. First, make the streusel topping. In a small bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cold butter pieces. Rub the mixture together with your fingers until combined and crumbly. Stir in the almonds. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, baking soda, salt, and spices. Make well in centre.
4. Whisk together in the well egg, buttermilk, oil, vanilla extract, and almond extract.
5. Stir together until there are no lumps. Don’t over-mix. Fold in the chopped pears.
6. Pour batter in prepared pan. Sprinkle the almond streusel topping evenly over the bread.
7. Bake for 60-70 minutes, loosely covering the bread with aluminium foil after 30 minutes to prevent the top from getting too dark. A toothpick inserted in the centre of the loaf will come out clean when the bread is done. Remove from the oven and allow the bread to cool for 15 minutes on a wire cooling rack. Use a knife to loosen the bread around the edges in the pan. Carefully remove the bread from the pan and cool completely.