Gingered Pear Butter & Crumb Bars

One of the few drawbacks to working at the farmers’ market is the constant temptation to buy “just one more”. “Just one more tomato, they’re so beautiful”. “Okay, I’ll take just one more bag of okra, it’s such a good price”. “I can always use just one more plant!” This particular instance of the “just one more” phenomena involved pears. Giant, juicy sand pears. I have a terrible weakness already for our many short-season fruits, and the pears are probably the worst. The season is so short and the pears are so delicious and crispy and wonderful, they’ve almost ruined me for any other pear. So when one of our farmers asked if I wanted to take home the rest of their pears at the end of the market day, what could I do?

andrews pears

Yeah, I took them all. Please note the size of those pears, my friends. These pears are huge. That one pear there is the size of a human heart, I swear. They were also bumped, nicked, and in various stages of ripeness.
I did what any person in their right mind does when faced with an overwhelming amount of ripe fruit… I made preserves. I had a four-year-old in the house. Canning was not happening. I made the easiest preserves I could think of- pear butter in the crockpot. There is no recipe needed for pear butter! Just peel and core as many pears as you have. Cut them in rough chunks. Put them in the crockpot with some sugar, not too much. I maybe used 3 cups for 10 pounds of pears. Add a pinch of salt. Add any seasonings you like, I added some chunks of fresh ginger. Cover and cook on high until the pears are soft. Puree the pears and liquid in batches in the blender of food processor. Pour it back in the crockpot and cook on low with the lid off until it’s as thick as you like it. I think I let it cook for another five hours.

There are no photos of this step of the process… I finished that pear butter, put it in jars, put them in the fridge, and forgot about them until last weekend. Then I found this bar recipe. And I remembered the pear butter. I made two batches, tweaking the recipe each time. The second batch I used a glass pan lined with parchment, and the bottom burned a bit. If you’re going to use a glass pan, reduce the temperature to 350. Even with the bottoms a little dark, one entire pan disappeared over one weekend. These are seriously good crumb bars.

pear crumb bars

Gingered Pear & Almond Crumb Bars

I don’t own a food processor and cutting in butter the old-fashioned way hurts my hands. Try my scraping method to make crunchy crumb toppings. Recipe inspired by Kitchen Confidante’s crumb bar recipe.

For the base:
2 c whole-grain flour (I use 50% spelt and 50% oat flour)
1 c unrefined organic sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c butter, softened
1 egg
2 c homemade ginger pear butter, or any thick butter or preserves

For the crumb topping:
1/2 c sliced almonds
3/4 c whole grain flour (I use 50% spelt and 50% oat flour)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 c unrefined organic sugar
1/2 c butter, softened

Heat oven to 350 if using a glass pan, 375 if using a metal pan. Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper or butter thoroughly.

Beat butter and sugar together until combined. Add egg and beat until the mixture is lightens in color. Add flour, salt and baking powder to mixture and stir until combined. Spread the batter in an even layer in the baking pan. Spread pear butter carefully over the base, leaving a scant 1/4″ border around the edges. (This keep the jam from leaking out of the sides during baking and scorching)

In the same bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and ginger and mix thoroughly. Add the butter and using a sturdy spoon or rubber spatula, “scrape” the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is fully incorporated and the mixture looks like damp sand. Add the almonds and stir to distribute the almonds through the mixture. Pick up handfuls of this mixture, squeeze lightly to make lumps, and sprinkle evenly over the jam, making sure to cover the edges.

Bake for 55 minutes or until the center of the crumb topping is set and the edges are browned. The “poke test” won’t work! Slice while warm but leave them until they’re completely cool before serving- they’re very crumbly and soft while warm.

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