Monday, June 15, 2009

Essential Sweet Perrin (Pear Bread)

Si vous préférez lire ce billet en français, cliquer ici

Those of you who have access to Maggie Glezer's excellent book, Artisan Baking Across America, where I got the recipe, will realize right away that this isn't the way the bread is supposed to look.
For those who have no way of checking it out, here is the way it is (or was) made at Essential Bakery in Seattle - the bakery which contributed the recipe to the book :

(photo scanned from the book, frame and text added by me)
I love their presentation too and I'll probably make the Sweet Perrin that way one day, especially around the holidays when it would make a lovely present to bring to someone's house. But for this once, I wanted to give the bread a pear shape.

Except for the shaping and the use of pureed canned pears in lieu of a jar of pear baby food (which would have required a trip to the supermarket), I pretty much followed the recipe as indicated.
When I make it again though, I may skip the cinnamon as we are not huge fans of that particular spice (maybe because the taste of cinnamon as we know it in the United States is more assertive than the one we grew up with in Europe).
Save this restriction, the bread is truly lovely. The raw pear bakes inside the bread and when you bite into it, it yields an explosion of sweet and fragrant juice in your mouth. The hazelnuts add a welcome crunch. The figs contribute a marvelous depth of flavor. The cracked rye gives the crumb a chewy texture and the white whole wheat and high-extraction flour make it tastier and more wholesome. A good bread for the Man to bring to the office as a snack, which is why I made it!
For the pre-ferment
  • 175 g unbleached bread flour
  • 175 g water
  • 1 tiny pinch of instant yeast
For the soaker
  • 17 g cracked rye
  • 17 g water
For the final dough
  • 300 g hi-extraction flour or unbleached bread flour
  • 40 g white whole wheat flour 
  • 1/4 tsp instant yeast all of the pre-ferment all of the soaked rye
  • 120 g water (I had 34 g leftover)
  • 80 g pear baby food or pureed steamed or canned pears (if canned, preferably with no added sugar)
  • 12 g salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 115 g very hard crisp pear such as Bosc or Anjou, peeled, cored and cut in 1/2-inch cubes
  • 60 g dried figs, stemmed and cut in 1/2-inch pieces (the recipe calls for Calimyrna figs but I used the regular Trader Joe's ones as it was all we had on hand)
  • 60 g hazelnuts (lightly toasted and skinned) (to toast the hazelnuts, put them in a small baking pan in a 350 F/177 F oven for about 15 minutes, then rub the warm nuts in a paper towel to remove the skins)

Method: (Glezer gives instructions for 3 different mixing methods, by hand, by stand mixer and by food processor. I used a mixer with a dough hook). This bread is made over 2 days.
  1. The day before, scale the yeast and the flour for the pre-ferment, add water and stir well. Cover and let ferment overnight or about 12 hours (Glezer says to use instant yeast and to mix it in water before adding it to the flour/water mixture but I wonder if that's not a typo as, from what I understood, only fresh and active dry yeast should be added to water. So I just proceeded as usual and mixed the instant yeast with the flour before adding the water)
  2. Also the day before, combine the cracked rye and the water in a small bowl until well combined , cover well with plastic wrap and let soak overnight for 12 hours
  3. The day of the baking, combine the flours and yeast in the mixing bowl, add the pre-ferment, soaked rye, water (I saved about 20%, some of which I managed to add later in the mixing and some of it I just couldn't use as the dough looked already very hydrated. Of course the raw pear made it even wetter. If I had used all the water indicated in the recipe, I probably wouldn't have been able to give the loaf the shape I wanted) and pear puree and mix just until smooth
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest (autolyse) for 20 to 30 minutes
  5. Add the salt and the spices to the dough and knead on medium speed until very smooth (about 5 minutes)
  6. Remove the dough from the mixer and incorporate the figs and hazelnuts by hand until evenly distributed
  7. Incorporate the raw pear pieces (I did that last as the dough becomes very wet and pretty tricky to handle once you do it. Maybe the pear I used was too juicy even though it felt really hard to the touch)
  8. Place the dough in a bowl as least 3 times its size and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let it ferment until airy and well expanded (but not yet doubled in bulk), about 3 hours
  9. Flour the surface of the dough and the worktable and turn the dough out
  10. Pre-shape lightly in a ball (Glezer says that at this point, you should cut the dough in half and make two loaves but I had drawn a rather large pear stencil, so I didn't divide the dough for fear that my stencil would end up being too big)
  11. Let the dough relax about 15 minutes
  12. Give it a pear shape (click here to see a photo tutorial of the shaping method)
  13. Let proof about 1 1/2 hour minutes in a large well-sealed clear plastic bag, or until the dough is well expanded but still springs back when gently pressed with a finger
  14. At least 45 minutes before the dough is fully proofed, arrange a rack onto the oven's second-to-top shelf and place a baking stone on it as well as a shallow metal pan on the shelf below
  15. Preheat the oven to 375 F/190 C at least 45 minutes before baking time
  16. Remove the loaf from the bag, and stencil it if/as desired
  17. Make small vertical cuts all around it
  18. Just before baking, pour a cup of water in the baking pan (taking care to protect your face and hands)
  19. Put the loaf in the oven, spray the oven walls with water to create more steam
  20. Bake until the bread is evenly browned, about 40 minutes, rotating it halfway into the bake
  21. Let cool on a rack.

The Sweet Perrin goes to Susan, from Wild Yeast, for Yeastpotting .


  1. Glezer's book is a favorite of mine and this bread has been on my list for a while. I love it as shown in the book but yours is stunning also!

    When I was at the food blogger's conference in Seattle we were lucky to have a breakfast catered by Essential Baking with a huge variety of breads and pastries. I don't think this one was among them, but everything I tried was wonderful.

  2. Thanks, Susan! From the book I have also baked Essential Columbia and loved it. You are lucky to have been able to sample their product line... For me, it'd be reason enough to plan another trip to Seattle, even if I didn't already love the city, Puget Sound islands and the Cascade mountains!

  3. This bread sounds and looks delicious indeed!

  4. Has baked Fig and Fennel bread rye sourbough and enjoyed it....and now A NEW TEMTETIONS FOR ME!!!!!


  5. Looks fantastic. For a second I thought this was the recipe from SFBI. There's also a pear stencil on it.

  6. I drive my husband crazy with my demands for visits to Essentials when we're visiting our son in Seattle. I love their breads.
    I need to just bake my way through everyone of my bread books, I'm convinced it's the only way to really discover everyone ... I wonder how old I'd have to live to in order to do that ...
    Very beautiful pear bread Farine.

  7. Thanks, Miriam! It's a really good bread to keep in mind for the fall.
    Alla, your passion for bread and enthusiasm are very contagious!
    Jude, thanks. Don't they say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? I liked the SFBI shaping and stencil so much that I couldn't resist borrowing the looks of their bread.
    Thank you, HalfCups. It's wonderful to have a child in an interesting city, right? One of mine lives near San Francisco and I love it. Re: bread books. Yes, it is too bad we can't bake each and every recipe, isn't it?

  8. Hi MC
    A beautiful rendition! So, they do use fruit purees in breads!(I've just commented on your Double Apple Bread that I might try adding apple puree when I make it and saw your pear bread.) What a lovely creation. Reading your post is such a visual delight. Thank you.

  9. Beautiful! I've been eyeing this recipe in Glezer's book for a while now. I'll have to try it soon.

  10. Bread with pears and figs - sounds divine! As soon as I find good pears at my farmer's market, this will be made!

  11. Absolutely beautiful. I want to reach in and take a bite!

  12. Oh MG!
    How beautiful this is. The crumb look absolutely gorgeous.

  13. The real cinnamon you remember (canela) can be easily found in a Mexican grocery - unfortunately, you cannot believe the label because all US cinnamon distributors know that canela is considered "real", while cassia (the stuff sold in America) is not - so everybody calls their cinnamon "canela" today.

    Actually, I like them both, so I keep both on hand - depending on what you're cooking, they both have their place - I think cinnamon rolls need the aggressive cassia punch, while a mole sauce needs the subtlety of real canela.

    BTW, a beautiful bread!

  14. Nobody's posted for a while but I just saw this and want to add, per the cinnamon...yes, Europeans usually are using true "Ceylon" cinnamon, as opposed to the popular stronger, darker cassia cinnamon common here in the U.S., as drfugawe mentioned. I grew up with the cassia variety, but having lived occasionally in Europe, I like both, depending on the use, and keep both in the cupboard. Here's where I've order my true cinnamon from:

    BTW, thanks for posting this recipe...I live where I can buy the original in season, but hunger for it when it's not there's a fix for that!

  15. Just made this tonight. I used the full amount of water in the recipe plus a juicy pear, which was way too much water overall. The dough was as wet as a ciabatta, and so the loaf ended up looking rather like an artisan pancake. Nevertheless, it was delicious and I will make it again, just with a little less water. I only used 1 tsp. of salt since it seemed like a lot of salt in the recipe, but the loaf could have used a little more, I'll bump that back up next time. Thanks so much for the recipe, I love that Essential Baking loaf and have wanted to give making it a try for a long time.



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