Baked Pears (Birnen im Teig)

Birnen im Teig
Schleswig-Holstein, where this dish originated, has close historical and geographical ties to Denmark. As a result of a plebiscite held after World War I, the northern zone became Danish, while the southern area was incorporated into the German Reich. This is a dish for people who like the typically Scandinavian combination of sweet and salty. The baking dish is lined with thin slices of Schinkenspeck, lean pork that is dry-cured and aged and does not require cooking. This German specialty is hard to find in America but you can substitute a good Westphalian ham.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Schleswig-Holstein
Keyword Baked, Pears
Region Schleswig-Holstein

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs firm pears
  • small piece of lemon peel
  • 1 stick unsalted butter softened, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 pound Westphalian ham thinly sliced

Instructions

  • Peel and core the pears and remove their stems; then, cut them in half. Bring 1 quart water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the lemon peel. Reduce the heat and poach the pears in batches in a single layer just until tender. Remove them with a slotted spoon, drain, and set aside.
  • Cream the butter with an electric mixer until light. Separate the eggs and add the yolks to the butter. Add the flour, baking powder, milk, and salt.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and grease a 2-quart gratin dish.
  • Beat the egg whites with salt until they stand in stiff peaks and fold them into the dough.
  • Line the bottom and the sides of the gratin dish with the ham. Place the pears cut side down in the dish in a single layer and pour the dough over them. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden and a knife comes out clean. Serve warm.
Recipe courtesy of Nadia Hassani, Spoonfuls of Germany