The perfect pear

I realise I should be focusing on Christmas menus at the moment but I just can’t get in the mood. Christmas in Australia can be a truly unique experience but this year is definitely an exception. Usually it’s all sun, swimming and tropical fruit but this year it feels more like I should be asking for a new umbrella and some festive spirit for Christmas. Usually I wouldn’t mind all the rain but I seriously can’t remember the last hot day we’ve had. At this point I’d even settle for Sydney’s notorious humidity to heat things up!

So while I dream of the perfect Christmas weather – hot, hot, hot! – I have decided to ease myself into the Christmas cooking mode by baking food that isn’t even remotely Christmas-related. With any luck it will get my creative juices flowing just in time for Christmas… five days and counting…

These little cakes are something I came up with a while back and although incredibly simple, they are quite yum. Pears are fantastic to cook with as they have a more subtle flavour that works well in both savoury and sweet dishes – don’t get me started on pear and blue vein cheese! Alternatively you could use apples or if you did want to be more festive, you could try plums or even pitted cherries (just replace the tea with water or milk). Hmmm, cherries!!! Now we’re talking Christmas! Well, almost.

Pear and Earl Grey Tea Cakes (makes 12)

  • 250gm plain flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100gm butter
  • 100gm brown sugar
  • 50gm caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 pears, diced
  • juice and zest of half a lemon
  • 1/2 cup strong earl grey tea, cooled
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and creamy.
  3. Add the eggs and mix well.
  4. Add the sifted flour, baking powder and stir to combine.
  5. Stir through the lemon juice, zest, tea and pears until just combined. Spoon into a greased muffin tin and make for 25-30 minutes.

These can be served hot as individual puddings (great with butterscotch sauce and ice-cream!) or cold, dusted with icing sugar.