Loving pears can feel like a dance with a cruel temptress. You’ll see one across the crowded produce aisle, all golden and curvy, aglow with sweet promise. But once you get it home, that seductive pear turns out to be mealy, gritty, or just plain flavorless.
But because you once had a pear so breathtakingly perfect, you are compelled to keep going back, hoping to experience it again.
I thought I knew what a pear could be, but until a few years ago, I really didn’t. It was an early morning at the farmer’s market, where a ruddy-cheeked farmer stood behind a table overflowing with baskets of fruit. Zestars, Honeycrisps, Macouns, Honeygolds, the apples were all there. But in the back corner, I saw a basket of little pears. They weren’t much to look at, just a greenish tinted skin with some russeting that made them look a little rough.
I leaned over the table, pointing. “What are those?” I asked.
“Well, those are Luscious Pears,” the farmer said, best pears you’ll ever eat. They grow real well here in the cold climate, nice and sweet.”
For a Minnesota farmer, that was downright effusive praise.
Well, I bought a basketful, and went back every week for another fix until they were all done for the year. Those pears became a featured treat, something to eat with great ceremony after dinner, or while watching a movie. I’d get out the paring knife and a plate, and lop off hunks of juicy, perfumed fruit, and we’d let it melt on our tongues like some kind of candy. A good Luscious smells a little like flowers, and tastes a little like floral honey. They are nothing like the bland and watery Bartlet that often arrives from far away, undoubtedly sapped of any flavor by a long trip in a box.
No, these pears really live up to the name. Luscious.
My farmer friend was right, the Luscious was designed to flourish in cold climates, and they do sell the trees at garden stores in Minneapolis. They were introduced in 1967 by the University of South Dakota breeding program, but are not grown all that widely. The ones I was buying at the market had some rough, peppery skin, but the ones I found this year at my Coop are much smoother and prettier.
Of course, most of them have been devoured out of hand, and enjoyed as the seasonal treat that they are. They are perfect for slicing over a salad, stuffing into a sandwich with almond butter, or sauteing briefly to pile on top of pancakes.
They make these scones irresistible, too.
But mostly, we just grab them and take a bite.
So if you encounter some of these precious, Luscious pears, buy a basketful. You’ll want to eat them every day until the season is over. Once you have had a few days of unadorned pear gratification, you can always branch out make these tasty scones.
Because once you experience true love with a lush, fragrant pear, you’ll never stop wanting more.
Luscious Pear and Maple Scones
Vegans can sub non-dairy yogurt and aquafaba for the eggs in the scone batter, and just skip the egg in the topping. For more on aquafaba baking, click here.
2 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, divided
3/4 cups plain yogurt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped luscious pear
1/2 large egg
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.
In a large bowl, combine the whole wheat pastry flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using the coarse holes of a grater, grate in the butter, tossing with your fingers to coat the butter with flour.
In a medium bowl, whisk the yogurt, maple syrup, egg, and vanilla.
Prepare your counter with a light dusting of flour. Add the byogurt mixture to the flour mixture and quickly stir just until all the flour is moistened. Fold in the pears. Scrape the dough onto the floured counter and dust with a little flour, and pat to make a large disk about 1 inch thick.
Using a chef’s knife or a bench knife, cut the round into 12 wedges, then brush with egg and sprinkle generously with Turbinado sugar. Use the bench scraper or a spatula to carefully transfer them to the baking pan.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until the topping is browned and the scones are firm. Transfer the scones to a rack to cool completely.