Pear and Cardamom Yoghurt Loaf
As Summer transformed into early Autumn, our pear tree went bonkers. Its branches became laden with fruit that was crisp and excellent for baking in August, and then became sweet and juicy for eating in October. One recipe that profited from our pear tree’s beneficence was this loaf, which went through several versions before settling on the below. It is not an overly sweet loaf and so it lends itself to accompanying a cuppa sweet tea or coffee. I imagine that it might take well to be eaten with cheese.
This loaf is made in two stages. First the pears are poached, and once these have cooled then the loaf itself can be made. Forewarned is forearmed re: time management.
I cannot find ground cardamom, so I deseed cardamom pods and grind the seeds myself. This is a bit of an operation so nicely fills the period between Stage 1 and Stage 2 where you are waiting for the pears to cool. Chances are good that you will need more than 9 cardamom pods for this stage. Some pods will have desiccated seeds and when I came across these I discarded that pod and its seeds and opened a new one.
This loaf has two variations: one where the poached pears are diced and another where they are left whole. I prefer the diced-pear version which is what you will find below. However, I will include notes at the end for how to make the whole-pear version.
If you prefer a sweeter loaf then do feel free to add your preferred sugar to the oil/maple/vanilla mixture in step 8. Depending on (a) the sweetness of your pears and (b) your overall sweetness preference, somewhere between ¼ and ¾ C may work well.
Finally, I bake this in a bain-marie as it keeps the loaf from forming a dry crust. To Macgyver this you will need a cake tin or deep roasting tray that is large enough to hold the loaf tin, I used a large square cake tin. Please see my Bain-Marie post for more information on this technique.
Pear and Cardamom Loaf
2 lb loaf tin / 12 servings
3 large and firm pears, peeled and cored
15 cardamom pods (6 for poaching and 9 for deseeding, however depending on the quality of the seeds you may need further pods)
4 whole cloves
1/4 cups caster sugar
1 tablespoons sunflower oil (or other flavourless oil)
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoons vanilla extract
125g full-fat Greek yoghurt
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
Enough boiled water to fill the bain-marie
Saucepan large enough to hold all the pears
2lb loaf tin
Cake tin or deep baking tray large enough to hold the loaf tin for the bain-marie
Coffee grinder – saves so much time when grinding the cardamom seeds!
Phase 1: Poaching the Pears
- Place the prepared pears, six of the cardamom pods, all four cloves and the caster sugar in the saucepan.
- Cover with water and bring to a simmer and poach the pears till tender, around 10 – 15 minutes (depending on ripeness of the pears).
- Remove the pears and leave them to cool on a wire cooling rack. Reserve 1½T of the poaching liquid. Discard the remaining poaching liquid and spices.
- Remove the seeds from the remaining 9 cardamom pods, discarding any desiccated seeds, the papery membrane, and the outer pods. Replace any discarded pod with a new pod so that the final amount is the equivalent of 9 cardamom pods. Grind the seeds into a powder.
- Preheat the oven to 180*C. Prepare the loaf tin and place inside the large cake tin or deep roasting tin.
- Puree one of the poached pears with the reserved 1½T poaching liquid.
- Dice the remaining two pears into 1 cm dice.
- In a large bowl mix the oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract
- Beat in the eggs, pureed pear, and Greek yoghurt.
- Stir in the diced pear.
- Boil the water for the bain-marie.
- Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and ground cardamom. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until just combined.
- Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin.
- Fill the larger cake tin with boiling water so that it comes about two-thirds up the outside of the loaf tin. The bain-marie will be relatively heavy so it may be worthwhile pulling out the oven shelf a little, placing the tin on it and pouring the water in at the oven. Please take care however you choose to fill it!
- Bake for 35 -45 minutes. Once cooked, let it cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Between Phase 1 and 2: Grind the cardamom seeds
Phase 2: Make the Pear and Cardamom Yoghurt Loaf
Pear and Cardamom Yoghurt Loaf Variation
To make the whole-pear variation:
- Prepare and poach four pears (Steps 1 – 3). Check that no spices from the poaching liquid become lodged in the pears.
- Grind the cardamom seeds (Step 4).
- Pre-heat the oven and prep the tins (Step 5).
- Puree one of the pears (Step 6), do not dice the remaining three pears (Step 7).
- Make the loaf as above (Steps 8 – 9), adding the pureed pear in Step 9 but leaving out the remaining three pears.
- Complete Steps 11 and 12 above.
- At Step 13, spoon one-third of the mixture into the bottom of the loaf tin. Then place the whole poached pears along the spine of the loaf tin. Spoon the rest of the mixture in and around the pears.
- Bake as above (Steps 14 and 15).