Catillac Pears in Eve’s pudding

Pear sponge pudding

I was lucky enough to get hold of a couple of monstrously big cooking pears this week. The variety was Catillac – also known sometimes as Pound Pears. Each pear can weigh a pound, I weighed the heavier of the two – 1lb 1oz. Amazing.

They’re cooking pears, and like the Royal Worcester variety cannot be eaten raw. If you don’t have cooking pears, use any of the commonly available eating varieties – just skip past the poaching bit, and get straight on with the baking.

This is really a variation on Eve’s pudding. As you might guess from the name, that version has apples in it.

Serves four, maybe six
For poaching the pears – One big Catillac pear, or two or three smaller eaters. A tablespoon of sugar.
For the sponge – 100g butter, 50g caster sugar, 2 eggs, Vanilla (either the scraping from a pod or a little splash of vanilla extract), 100g self-raising flour.

Start by peeling and quartering the pears. Remove the cores and trim the ends. Cut each piece in half lengthwise (this gives you eight big pieces in total). Then put them in a saucepan with just enough water to cover. Add the sugar and gently poach until just tender when prodded with a skewer. Drain and allow the pears to go cold.

Meanwhile make the sponge topping by creaming the butter and sugar until pale, then mix in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the vanilla, then fold in the flour.

Use a favourite pudding dish, ideally one that will take the pears slices comfortably in a single layer. Lay the pear pieces in the bottom of the dish and cover with the sponge topping.

Bake in a medium-hot oven for about thirty minutes or until the top possesses a gentle golden glow and the sponge is firm in the middle. Perhaps sprinkle a little extra caster sugar on top. Serve warm, not hot, with custard.

Variation: I made this recently in a cake tin, then turned it out and let it go cold. I dusted the top with icing sugar and served it with whipped cream.