Bay-poached pears with maple cream
The gentle poaching of pears makes the most of Rosie Birkett's favourite unsung seasonal fruit. Enjoy with maple cream or, for even more decadence, crème anglaise
- Serves: 4 persons
- 160g golden caster sugar
- 3bay leaves
- 4cardamom pods, lightly crushed
- 2tbsp sharp apple juice or lemon juice
- 4firm pears
- 200ml double cream
- 1tbsp maple syrup
- 1tsp vanilla bean paste
- toasted flaked almonds, to garnish
Step 1First, cut a circle out of baking paper – it should be large enough to just fit inside a wide, shallow, non-reactive pan. This is called a cartouche. Cut a small hole in the middle of the circle (this will allow steam to escape), then scrunch up the circle and smooth out again. Tip the sugar, bay leaves and cardamom pods into the pan, pour over 400ml of water and bring to the boil over a medium-high heat to a gentle simmer – you don't want the liquid to reduce. Stir in the apple or lemon juice.
Step 2Meanwhile, peel the pears, then slice in half, leaving the stalks attached if you can. Use a small, sharp knife to remove the cores. Carefully slip the prepared pears into the syrup, cut-side up, then cover with the cartouche. Simmer for 20-25 mins (exact timings will depend on the firmness of the pears, so watch carefully after about 15 mins), spooning the syrup over the pears a few times as they cook. The pears are ready once they start to look translucent and are tender in the middle when poked with the tip of a sharp knife. Remove the pears to a high-sided dish using a slotted spoon, then strain over the syrup, discarding the aromatics, if you like.
Step 3Leave the pears to cool, then cover and chill until ready to serve. Whip the cream to soft peaks in a bowl then gently fold in the maple syrup and vanilla bean paste. Serve the pears in their syrup in shallow bowls, chilled or gently warmed, topped with the cream and a sprinkling of almonds.