The ways of the fruit trees are mysterious to me. One year it’s a bumper crop of plums, this year just enough for one indulgent afternoon. The apple trees are staggering under the weight of their fruit, but we only got one apricot. And the pear tree, espaliered out of the way on our small city lot, produced its customary dozen pears. Which yielded, after a little bit of cleanup and a lot of simmering down, one and a half cups of chunky pear sauce.
We made the most of it with these muffins.
Let me just admit up front that they’re more cake than breakfast, unless you can see your way to combining the two–in which case, I assure you, you won’t be alone. The crumb is tender, the tops are crisp with sugar, and the muffins are fragrant with the heady scents of cardamom and vanilla. Pear Muffins with Cardamom and Vanilla: In a medium bowl, mix 2 c. flour, ½ tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. cardamom, and ¼ tsp. salt. In a standing mixer, cream 1 stick (1/2 c.) butter with 1 c. sugar, then add 1 egg, 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract, and 1 ½ c. pear sauce*. Mix well, then stir in dry ingredients just to combine. Transfer to well-greased muffin tins and sprinkle the tops of the muffins with turbinado sugar. Bake at 350. Start to check the muffins after 15 minutes. They are done when a toothpick comes out with just a crumb or two attached.
*Make your own pear sauce by piling chunks of peeled pear into a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Cook for a few moments and then decide if you need to add liquid: some pears will produce plenty of their own juice and others will need you to add a few Tbsp. of water or pear juice (or apple juice) to prevent sticking. Cook until pears are tender, then mash them with a fork or potato masher (for a chunky sauce) or immersion blender (for a smoother one). Reduce to desired consistency, then remove from heat.