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.
- 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
Recipe courtesy of Nadia Hassani, Spoonfuls of Germany
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.