Saturday, November 22, 2014

Caramel Pear Bread

I love baking (and eating!) bread, all kinds.  Bread is one of my major weaknesses.  Making a yeast bread can be very therapeutic and relaxing. Surely, the kneading of it is a great way to relieve stress and anger! But making yeast breads takes time, often many hours, as you wait for the dough to rise. My schedule doesn't allow that on a regular basis.  Non-yeast breads, or quick breads, is a great alternative.  Like their name implies, they are quick to make.  Usually it is just throwing the ingredients in a mixing bowl, mixing it up, putting the batter in a loaf pan and baking. Because they are so easy to make, they are great to share with neighbors, family and friends. I often bake a loaf to take to the office. I especially love to have a quick bread in the morning, with a cup of tea or latte.  Banana bread, pumpkin bread, zucchini bread are all so yummy!
I had a few pears languishing in my produce drawer so decided to make a bread with them.  I am getting a little tired of things with cinnamon, cloves, pumpkin spice, etc. so went online looking for something a little more basic.  I ran across this apple praline bread and decided to put a pear twist on it. I knew I would not make the praline topping, I'm not a big praline candy fan anyway, but it just looked too rich for me.  Instead, I drizzled some caramel sauce over it. The bread itself isn't real sweet so the caramel gave it just a little extra "oomph" of sweetness.  I also didn't add as much nuts to the top of the bread, sprinkling it with about 1/3 cup (give or take a little, who measures this stuff?) The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups apples, I had two large pears, so went with that.  I find that pears bake up much moister than apples do. I was happy with the dough to fruit ratio, I think another pear would've made the bread too mushy (don't you love my technical baking terms?) I also toasted all the pecans, I think it brings out more of the nutty flavor.

We really enjoyed this pear bread. Every bite had a little taste of vanilla-spiced batter, pear and pecans. I took half of it to my parents' house and it got good reviews there, too.

Caramel Pear Bread

1 cup chopped pecans
8 oz. sour cream
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups finely chopped peeled pears
Caramel sauce (I used Fran's)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with baking spray (or grease and flour it).

Spread pecans in a small skillet, over low heat. Toast, stirring occasionally, until light brown.

In medium bowl, beat sour cream, sugar, eggs and vanilla on low speed 2 minutes. Beat in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt just until blended. Stir in pears and 2/3 cup of the toasted pecans. Spoon batter into pan.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup toasted pecans; lightly press pecans into batter.

Bake 55 to 65 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, covering with foil during last 15 minutes to prevent overbrowning, if necessary.  Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack.

Spoon caramel sauce over top of bread. Cool completely, about 2 hours.

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