The Dominion Post

You pear it well

Crisp and crunchy, sweet and juicy, and everything in between: in-season pears are a joy to eat fresh, but don’t forget that many varieties cook well too.

- NICOLA GALLOWAY

Ilove pear season, and enjoy trying the different varieties at the local produce market stalls. This week, I have been cooking with a new-to-me heritage variety named twyford monarch. It has proven to be both a good cooker and eater, although that isn’t always the case. I have included variety suggestion­s that will suit today’s recipes.

Sticky pear & cinnamon baklava slice

For this rich, sweet treat, I use a half nuts-half seeds combinatio­n to reduce the cost somewhat.

Be bold when brushing the filo sheets with butter so to create layers of crispy pastry.

Preparatio­n time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 50 minutes Makes 24 squares

For the baklava slice

2 pears (about 300g), cored and thinly sliced – beurre bosc or

packham are great for cooking

1 tbsp honey or golden syrup

1 tbsp (15g) butter or olive oil

1⁄2 tsp cinnamon

13⁄4 cups (250g) combinatio­n of nuts and seeds – walnuts, almonds,

pistachios, hazelnuts, pumpkin or sunflower seeds

2 tbsp honey or golden syrup

1 tsp cinnamon

Generous pinch of salt

10 sheets filo pastry (about half a packet)

80g melted butter

For the syrup

1 tbsp honey 3 tbsp sugar 4 tbsp water 1 cinnamon quill

Preheat oven to 180C (fan bake 160C).

First prepare the sticky pears. Place the honey, butter and cinnamon into a saucepan and melt together. Add the sliced pears and toss to evenly coat. Arrange in a single layer on a baking tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the pears are sticky and golden. Turn down the oven to 160C (150C fan bake). Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Place the nuts and seeds into a food processor and blend until roughly ground. Add the honey, cinnamon and salt and pulse to combine.

Spread the filo sheets on the bench and cut in half down the middle – half will be used for the bottom layers and half for the top. Cover with a lightly damp tea towel to prevent the pastry drying out.

Line a baking tin that will fit the flat pastry, about 20 x 30cm – trim if needed and save the offcuts in the freezer for topping a pie. Place a sheet of filo into the tin and brush confidentl­y with butter, repeat with half of the pastry. Scoop in the nut mixture and press evenly. Arrange the pear slices on top in an even layer. Continue layering the remaining filo, brushing each sheet with butter to create the top pastry layer. Drizzle over any remaining butter.

Use a sharp knife to cut into 24 squares (this is easier to do before it is cooked) and bake for 40-45 minutes, until lightly golden.

Make the syrup just before the slice comes out of the oven. Combine the honey, sugar, water and cinnamon and bring to a gentle simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and spoon the hot syrup over the slice as soon as it is removed from the oven. Cool completely in the tin.

Store the baklava slice in an airtight container and consume within 5 days.

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