Pear Bread (bookmarked recipe)

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The Lunch Box Project (Four Pears 26Apr2009 image © Lisa Orgler; all rights reserved) summary: recipe for pear bread made with sugar pears, unbleached all-purpose, whole wheat and rye flours – based on Sandra Avital’s (Le Pétrin) recipe for “Pain Rustique aux Poires”; about dry vs fresh yeast equivalents; information about Lynn’s High5, Lisa Orgler’s Lunch Box Project and Bookmarked Recipes; submission for YeastSpotting; (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

Bookmarked Recipes - every MondayBookmarked Recipe

Oh for the days when I had nothing to say…. :lalala: As I wrote the following, it just kept getting longer and longer. If you think it’s long now, you should have seen it before I took some away!! (I need an editor. An editor with a big black pencil to x out excessive verbosity.) But if you can stand it, please make sure you’re comfortable and read on:

Last year I was moaning about pears:

It doesn’t really matter when we buy pears here in Toronto. They’re bound to be rock-hard. It’s really very sad. -ejm, Friday, 19 June 2009

sugar pear Well!! It turns out this is completely untrue!!

How happy are we?! We’ve just discovered the wonders of sugar pears. They’re tiny. They’re green sometimes with a little rosy bloom. And they are sweet and juicy! They taste just like pears!! (This is really quite something. We haven’t tasted real pears since France….)

For ages now, I’ve been wanting to make the fabulous looking pear bread Sandra’s (Le Pétrin) site – I first saw it on YeastSpotting. I was just waiting for decent pears. Yes. That’s my excuse for waiting so long to make the bread!

pear bread Sure, the recipe is in French and calls for French flour. And sure, je sais seulement assez français pour me plonger dans la soupe. But with the help of Google, I managed to work out a reasonable translation and at last made the bread. Yes, I made it by hand….

The recipe calls for some ingredients I don’t have and can’t easily get: fresh yeast, T55 flour and T130 rye flour.

Fresh yeast was easy. When I made luciacats, I worked out that

2½ tsp (8gm) active dry yeast = 50gm fresh yeast

Note that this does NOT tally with other people’s calculations. But, happily, the amount I used worked perfectly well. (please read more about yeast equivalents)

T55 flour is apparently somewhere between our all-purpose and cake flours. (See Jane’s (Au Levain!) most useful post on flour types.) I toyed with the idea of getting some cake flour and mixing that in. But laziness won over and I chose to use unbleached all purpose.

I still have no idea what T130 rye flour is, but am guessing from googling that it is dark rye flour. I usually use dark rye flour but this beautiful organic rye flour my sister gave to us is much lighter in colour and texture than the flour I’ve been buying. So I decided to add some whole wheat flour as well. And while I was at it, I thought I’d throw in some ground flax seed too. Why not? In for a penny, in for a pound. Or something.

In spite of all the changes I made to Sandra’s recipe, what wonderful bread this turned into!

toast The only thing I’d do differently the next time would be to add closer to the amount of sugar originally called for. I reduced the amount of honey drastically and I think it was a mistake.

But the less-sweet version I made makes THE most brilliant toast. Especially when slathered with butter and homemade apricot jam. The pear pieces are a lovely addition as well.

Here’s how my adventure with pear bread went:

So there I was in the quiet kitchen, early in the morning mixing bread. I ground the flax seeds with our mortar and pestle so as not to make too much noise. Do you think this is a good idea? No, I don’t anymore either. It is a Bad Idea. Next time, use an electric grinder.

Mixing… even though the indication was that the dough would be exceedingly wet, I didn’t find it so at all. Until I started adding the butter. Oh my. Oh my oh my oh my. What a gloppy mess. But I thought I’d tamed it.

pears Until I added the diced pear. Did I say it was a gloppy mess before? I was wrong. What I had before was easy to deal with. THIS was a gloppy mess!!

But at last it was beautifully smooth…. :lalala:

And I left it to its own devices to rise and bubble.

Once it had risen, with some difficulty, I managed to make two rounds. I kept pushing bits of pear back into the dough. And they kept poking themselves back out. Wheeeeee!!! (Are we having fun yet?)

Then, because I was too lazy to print out Sandra’s lovely pear image, I drew one myself. And cut it out, trying to imagine how on earth I was going to do the transfer. Questions I asked myself:

  • Should I put the paper on a screen and scatter the flour through the screen?
  • Should I put the paper directly on the bread and risk getting the ink on the other side transferred to this ultra wet dough?
  • Should I just forget the whole transfer idea completely and pretend I forgot to do it?

And so the questions and self-doubt continued as the bread rose.

And then the moment arrived. After spraying the first round liberally with water (oh really!!! Read the recipe!!! Sandra says to “lightly spray with water”), I found myself laying the paper directly down on the dough. I sprinkled away to my heart’s content, thinking, “Cool, this is going to be great”! Until I tried to remove the paper. Which stuck tenaciously to the loaf. And tore the silly little detail on the pear off completely.

I finally got the paper off, incredibly relieved to see that the ink had not attached itself to the wet dough. And realized that I didn’t have to put it down the way I drew it!! The pear could be reversed and still look like a pear. (Duh…)

For the second loaf, I put the paper onto our grease spatterer and tried scattering the flour through it. Well. THAT didn’t work at all. So with some trepidation, I put the paper (ink side up this time) on the dough. And scattered flour like a maniac. The paper didn’t stick quite so badly (perhaps because there wasn’t some camera-challenged idiot snapping several pictures before removing the paper) and I managed to peel it off without leaving very much behind on the paper. And into the oven the loaves went. Fingers crossed. Will the decal work?!

Very interesting. The one that looked so promising before going into the oven turned out to be hopelessly messy. And the one that seemed far too lightly dusted worked out beautifully. Luckily, the messy one still tastes delicious.

So. Did I already say it? You’ve got to make this bread! Ignore all that stuff about how hard it was. Because, in the end, it really wasn’t that bad. Here is what I did to make two loaves:

Warning: the dough is REALLY sloppy.

No no. Forget I said that! Just ignore it and read on. You really do need to make this bread:

Pear Bread
based on Sandra Avital’s (Le Pétrin) recipe for “Pain Rustique aux Poires”

  • ¾ tsp (2.3 gm??) active dry yeast ¹
  • 350gm (350ml or ~1½ US c) lukewarm water ²
  • 25gm (~1 Tbsp) honey 5
  • 400gm (~4 US c) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 50gm (~½ US c) rye flour ³
  • 50gm (~½ US c) whole wheat flour
  • 8gm (1 Tbsp) flax seed, ground 4
  • 12gm (~2 tsp) seasalt
  • 40g (~3 Tbsp) soft unsalted butter
  • 1 drop vanilla 6
  • 200g diced pears (~4 sugar pears or ~2 regular pears)
  1. Dough This is a “same day bread”. Put the yeast and water into the mixing bowl and whisk well.
  2. Stir in honey.
  3. Add the flours, ground flax seed and seasalt and stir well with a wooden spoon to encorporate all the flour. (Remark to yourself that the dough doesn’t seem to be THAT sloppy.)
  4. Kneading Turn the dough out onto an UNfloured board. Put the starter on top of the dough. Let these rest as you wash and dry your mixing bowl to turn it into your proofing bowl.
  5. Knead this relatively slack dough for 10 minutes or so. (Remark to yourself once more that the dough doesn’t seem to be THAT sloppy and this is all going pretty smoothly.)
  6. Add the one drop of vanilla. Flatten the dough and smear some of the butter on top. Fold the dough in half and smear some more butter. Fold it in half again and smear on the rest of the butter. Knead the butter and vanilla in. (Good luck!!) Use a dough scraper to help you knead. No matter how gloppy and messy it seems, you should NOT add any more flour. The dough is supposed to be sloppy.
  7. When the dough is finally resembling dough again instead of a greasy mess, gently knead in diced pear (oh my!). Please note that I left the peel on the pear.
  8. Proofing: Form (as best you can) the dough into a ball and plop it into the clean bowl. Don’t worry if it doesn’t seem to be all that smooth. Push bits of pear into the dough as best you can to prevent them from being exposed to the air. Cover the bowl and leave in a non-drafty area of the kitchen for 20 minutes.
  9. After 20 minutes has passed, very lightly sprinkle the work surface with flour (oooops!!! I forgot to do this step). Carefully turn the dough out. If necessary, gently spread the dough out (try not to disturb any bubbles). Using the dough scraper and still trying not to disturb any bubbles, fold the sloppy left side into the center, then the top into the center, then the right side, then the bottom. As you lift it into the bowl, fold it in half once more. Try to place it in the bowl smooth side up. Cover the bowl. Let it ferment at room temperature for 20 minutes again. Repeat this step two more times. (This step is done at 20 minutes, 40 minutes, 60 minutes after the first kneading.) It may not be until the third time that the dough will look like the smooth soft pillow that is described in books. The amount of dusting flour used in those three maneuvres is not more than a couple of tablespoons in all and probably much less (I have never actually measured). It’s the merest dusting. Each time, push bits of pear back into the dough before covering and allowing the dough to proof.
  10. After the final folding maneuver, cover the bowl again and allow it to
    ferment until it has doubled.
  11. Shaping First, put largish sheets of parchment paper onto two pizza pans. Now sprinkle a generous amount (but not too much) of flour onto the board and gently turn the dough out onto the flour, disturbing it as little as possible. Cut the dough in half. With the help of the dough scraper, on one of the halves, fold the left side into the center (try not to disturb the bubbles), then the top, then the right side then the bottom. Turn it over. Continue to fold it underneath itself to form an even tight ball without actually deflating the dough. Place it seam side down on a parchment covered pizza pan. Repeat with other piece of dough. Once again, push any bits of escaping pear back in to make sure they are not exposed to the air. Cover the shaped bread with a clean tea towel followed by plastic bags. Leave it in a non-drafty area until they have about doubled. To test, flour your finger and press gently on the edge – it should very slowly spring back. For comparison, try pressing early on to see how it quickly springs back when the dough has not risen enough. (2 to 4 hours)
  12. Preparing the Oven About half an hour before baking the bread, put a rack on the second to the top shelf of the oven, making sure there are no racks above it. Preheat the oven to 400F. (I put our baking stone on the shelf below the rack for cooking.
  13. Stencilling Draw and cut out your own pear as I did or use the really lovely pear that Sandra has on her site (scroll down for link). Just before baking the bread, spray the loaves lightly with water and using rye flour, sift it over the stencil to put the pear decal onto each loaf. (eeeek!!! watch for sticking!)
  14. Baking Bake 30 minutes or so at 375F on 2nd to top shelf of oven. Slide it into the oven (the parchment paper can go into the oven). Immediately turn the oven down to 375F 7 to bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Half way through the baking, turn each pizza tray around to account for uneven heat in the oven. Each of the finished loaves should have an internal temperature that is 205F to 210F.
  15. When the bread is done, turn off the oven. Put the finished bread back in the oven and leave with the door ajar for 5 or 10 minutes. Remove to cool a footed rack. Wait til the bread is completely cool before cutting it (it’s still baking when it’s hot out of the oven). 8


1. Yeast: We don’t yet have a scale that measures in fractions of grams. (I’m putting one on my wish list.).

2. Water: Tap water is fine to use – just make sure that it has stood for at least 12 hours so that the chlorine has dissipated. Under no circumstances should you use water from the hot water tap. Of course, saying that it is unsafe to use water from the hot water tap might be an urban myth, but why tempt fate? Heat the water in a kettle or microwave and add cold water until it is the correct temperature, (use the baby bottle test on the back of your wrist – your fingers have no idea of temperature!) Or you can use a thermometer. The temperature should be BELOW 120F because yeast begins to die when the temperature is higher than 120F.

:: Rye Flour: I think the rye flour I used might be “light” – my sister gave it to me and it’s unlabelled. Normally, I use “dark” rye flour, purchased from the health food store, and that is what I used for the pear decal.

4. Flax Seed: Apparently, flax seed is supposed to be ground or we cannot digest it. I used various pestles and mortars to grind it, so it came out quite coarsely. Next time, I’ll use our electric coffee spice grinder.

5. Honey: Sandra’s recipe calls for 40gm honey. I only used 25gm and while the bread is delicious the way I made it, I think it would be better with more honey.

6. Vanilla: Sandra calls for ½ tsp vanilla seeds – much more vanilla than one drop. But for some unknown reason, both of us have suddenly developed a dislike of too much vanilla. However, I didn’t want to omit it entirely and thought that a tiny amount would be good. Did the one drop make a difference to the final flavour? I have no idea. But I like to imagine that it did.

7. Oven Temperature: Sandra says to bake the bread at 220C (~425F). But I knew that this would be too hot a setting with our oven and would not only cause burning on the bottom but for the outside to get done long before the inside.

8. But I want Warm Bread!! If you wish to serve warm bread, reheat it after the loaf has cooled completely. To reheat UNsliced bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread directly on the rack in the hot oven for ten minutes.

pear bread The crumb was lovely and soft. But it’s clear that using a smooth pestle and mortar isn’t the best way to grind flax seeds. But the large pieces of flax seeds didn’t detract from the bread in any way. This really is delicious bread! Merci bien pour la recette, Sandra!

So. What do you say? Now that good pears are available, and the recipe is translated into English, don’t you too need to make this bread? No. Wait… No question about it, you’ve got to make this bread!

Sugar pears work really well.

Yeastspotting - every Friday ( image)

Each week, Susan (Wild Yeast) compiles a list of many bread-specific recipes from across the web. And what a fabulous resource this has become. For complete details on the recipes that have been made and how to be included in the YeastSpotting round up, please read the following:

April 26 2009 Four Pears © Lisa Orgler; all rights reserved Lunch Box Project
a food collage journal

* Many of Lisa Orgler’s charming Lunch Box Project drawings are done on playing cards and if you look closely at the images, you can make out which card she used. She wrote the following explanation that appeared on the sidebar of her website all through 2009:

I love food, I love art, I love journaling… so I plan to combine them all into one big event – The Lunch Box Project. My goal in 2009 is to create one masterpiece a day – each on a playing card […]

image and reproduction rights reserved […] Please contact [Lisa] for permission to use illustrations.

-Lisa Orgler, The Lunch Box Project (pear, pears, Bosc pear)

And when I saw the sugar pears on our counter, I instantly thought of it Lisa’s pear drawings and wondered how many of them she would have included on a playing card to indicate how small they are. (I emailed Lisa to make sure it was okay to use her image on this post and was very pleased to get a positive reply. Thank you, Lisa!) Please do note that Lisa sells her artwork – many of the Lunch Box drawings are available as notecards.

For August 2010, Lisa’s lunchbox project is to illustrate recipes from a variety of food bloggers. For more information about the Lunchbox Project, please read the following:

edit 31 August 2010: pear bread August 31 2010 © Lisa Orgler; all rights reserved Look what Lisa drew! The drawing is part of her August 2010 “Lunch Box Project” and this one was inspired by the above pear bread. How cool is that?!

Lynn’s High Five

High5: I did it! High 5! I did it!! I have now made a minor dent in the bookmarked “I’ve GOT to make that now!” bread recipes in firefox.

You select the challenge – you know best what intimidates you, what you’ve been putting off trying. When you put up your post, just slap up this logo to let the world know you’ve taken on something new and given it a good kicking! – Lynn (Cookie baker Lynn), I Did It (and you can, too)

Bookmarked Recipes - every MondayBookmarked Recipes
Some time ago, Ruth (Ruth’s Kitchen Experiments) created this event to urge herself (and everyone else) to actually make the several recipes they have bookmarked in various books, magazines and internet pages. I think it’s a brilliant idea. But events come and go and posting roundups can become very time consuming and the event is no longer an official event.

Even so, you might like to look at previous bookmarked recipes’ roundups:


About yeast conversions

Some years ago, with mixed up logic, I worked out the following formula:

2½ tsp (8gm) active dry yeast = 50gm fresh yeast

Note, once again: this does NOT tally with other people’s calculations.

Here are some other fresh yeast to dry yeast equivalents:

[F]or every cup of flour in the recipe, use either of
3 grams compressed fresh yeast
2 grams active dry yeast
1 gram instant active dry yeast
– Maggie Glezer, “Artisan Baking Across America”
1 g fresh = 0.5 g active dry = 0.4 g instant
– Susan (Wild Yeast),
2+1/2 tsp (one package) active dry yeast = 18 gm cake fresh yeast
– Carol Field, “The Italian Baker”
A .6-oz [17gm] cube of cake yeast is roughly equivalent to 1½ to 2 tsp. instant yeast or 2 to 2¼ tsp. active dry yeast.
– Sydny Carter, Yeast: The Basics,

edit December 2010: Here is a nifty javascript to calculate the conversion from fresh to active dry yeast that one of my sisters created after reading my ravings about Yeast Equivalents – AGAIN.

I just remembered!! There is another pear bread using dried pears that I bookmarked to make. Remind me!

Next time I make Sandra’s bread, I’m going to use Susan’s method to put the pear decal on. It looks slightly less hazardous.


This entry was posted in baking, bookmarked, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, bread recipe, food & drink, posts with recipes on by .

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2 responses to “Pear Bread (bookmarked recipe)

  1. Mimi

    Great job on the pear bread! The loaves look so pretty! I hate wet sloppy doughs, they are so tough to work with, so high five for sure!

    When I get a rock hard pear, I leave it out on the counter. They’ll usually ripen up in a few days. Be really careful and check the pears often, they tend to go from ripe to mushy while your back is turned!!

    We do that too, Mimi, but the pear is never quite as good as if it had ripened on the tree. And thank you, I was pretty pleased with the bread. And in retrospect, it wasn’t THAT hard to deal with. -Elizabeth


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