I had a really hard time letting go of summer this year. I’m not sure of it was the sandy baby toes, the summer squash enchiladas, or the tiny swim trunks I kept in my car just in case, but I really didn’t want it to end. One of the best parts of our summer was the overabundance of berries and summer fruit. Endless flats of cheap, local produce – taking over our refrigerator and staining our fingertips pink and blue.
I didn’t just love all those summer berries because they are delicious, but also because they are so easy. Wash grab n go – no steaming, peeling, or chopping required. And then the pears arrived. I had forgotten the perfection that is a juicy, ripe pear. And I discovered that they are as good, if not even better than berries in the hands of a one year old. Nothing gives Cullen more satisfaction than holding a giant pear wedge of his very own and chomping down.
This is my very long way of telling you that I’ve been buying a LOT of pears recently. Too many, actually. I guess I got a little excited. So I decided to use up a few extra ripe pears in a baking experiment that turned out to be a baking success.
I had planned to just make a simple pear bread using an old banana bread recipe, but when I pulled out my baking basket I saw the package of crystallized ginger and felt inspired. And unlike (most of ) my banana bread recipes, this one is vegan! Ginger and pear are such wonderful complimentary flavors, and this bread has just the right mix of light sweetness, punchy ginger, and seasonal spices. I am already planning to make this for my family on Christmas morning!
Ginger Spiced Pear Bread
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45-50 minutes
Ingredients (1 loaf)
1 cup all purpose four
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup cane sugar
1/4 cup (loose) brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons chia seeds + 1/4 cup water (or sub 2 eggs)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup sunflower oil (or sub canola/other oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ripe pears, diced small
1/3 cup crystallized ginger, minced
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, including the sugars. Set aside. Select two ripe pears – I used Bosc variety – and dice into very small pieces. The smaller the better – if the pieces are too big, the bread won’t hold together well.
You also want to mince the crystallized ginger. Ginger is a really strong flavor, so small pieces go a long way!
In a small dish, mix the chia seeds and water together and let sit for a few minutes.
The chia seeds absorb the water and swell in size, creating a gooey egg-like consistency. If you don’t have chia seeds, you can sub flax seeds or two eggs here. (Insider tip: they sell chia seeds at Trader Joe’s now!)
Once the chia-egg has formed, add applesauce, oil, and vanilla to the small dish, and whisk to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients, and mix until combined. Using a spatula, fold in the crystallized ginger (reserve about a tablespoon) and fresh pear. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan, and sprinkle the remaining crystallized ginger on top of the batter.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, until golden brown on top and baked through the center. Allow bread to cool on a wire rack before slicing and serving.
The crystallized ginger tastes amazing when baked – it gets sort of chewy and sweet. I had no idea it could get even better.
I love this bread because it is unexpected. Banana bread is delicious, but predictable. This is fun and seasonal, and would make a great gift for coworkers, teachers, babysitters, family, or a gift to yourself at the end of a long week.
We had a gloomy, rainy weekend here in Seattle, which led to a lot of bread eating. If I was a good enough photographer, I would have figured out a way to capture this bread sitting next to a window covered in rain drops. As it is, you’ll just have to believe me that much of this loaf was consumed as a comfort food cliché – listening to rain, next to a fire, with hot coffee in hand. Guilty as charged.
We have family coming into town next weekend, and I think I might need to have one of these ready for our guests’ arrival. Tis the season for delicious baked goods!
Hopefully the first of many more to come.