This spice-infused tea bread comes from the kitchen of Mrs. Cornelia Walker Bailey, historian, muse, and guardian angel of Sapelo Island, off the Georgia coast. Mrs. Bailey’s family has lived on Sapelo Island since the year 1806, and her life’s work is keeping their stories and wisdom alive and well. She works through words, telling stories, writing books, and sharing recipes for the food that has fed her ancestors for more than 200 years. This bread comes from The Foods of Georgia’s Barrier Islands: A Gourmet Food Guide to Native American, Geechee and European Influences on the Golden Isles, a book she wrote with Yvonne J. Grovner and William “Doc Bill” Thomas.–Nancie McDermott
LC A Quick Bread with Pedigree Note
Though this quick bread is far from pretentious, it certainly has pedigree–and you don’t need to know its geneology to know this. One taste tells all.
- Quick Glance
- 15 M
- 1 H, 30 M
- Makes 2 9-by-5-inch loaf pans or one 10-inch tube pan
- For the pear bread
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan(s)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 3/4 cup butter, softened, or 3/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for the pan(s)
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups peeled and finely grated ripe but firm pears
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Confectioners' sugar (optional)
- For the buttermilk glaze
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (either low-fat or full-fat)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch or flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Make the pear bread
- 1. Heat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and lightly butter and flour a 10-inch tube pan or two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans.
- 2. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Scoop out about 1/4 cup of the flour mixture and combine it in a small bowl with the chopped walnuts, tossing to coat the nuts.
- 3. In a medium bowl, combine the butter or oil, eggs, sugar, grated pear, nuts, and vanilla, and stir to mix everything well. Scrape the pear mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until the flour disappears and the batter is evenly moistened.
- 4. Quickly and gently scrape the batter into the prepared pan(s) and bake at 350°F (175°C) for 60 to 70 minutes, or until the bread is handsomely browned and firm on top and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
- 5. Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack or folded kitchen towel for about 10 minutes. Then turn it out onto a plate or a wire rack to cool completely, top side up. Serve as is, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, or ice with a simple Buttermilk Glaze.
- Make the buttermilk glaze
- 6. In a medium saucepan combine the buttermilk, sugar, butter, cornstarch, and baking soda. Bring to a gentle boil. Remove at once, stir well, and cool to room temperature. Add the vanilla and then set the glaze aside until the cake is done. Spoon the Buttermilk Glaze over the warm cake and cool completely.
Recipe Testers Reviews
This bread/tea cake is so good and even better the day after it’s baked. If you can wait that long! The bread works with both pan suggestions (with some tweaking in baking time) and with both fat suggestions. The textures and flavors change a bit though. I prefer the glaze when it’s allowed to boil for a minute or two. The sugar starts to caramelize and it’s so good.
This recipe is already a favorite in my household. I’ve had three requests for it already. It has great texture, a fine crumb, is nice and moist, and not overly sweet. Some errors are worth making, and I’m sticking with mine. Adding both the butter and the oil may seem like too much—I thought the bread would turn out oily—but it was perfect. Using pears is also a pleasant change from banana or apple, and the buttermilk glaze was a nice finish. This recipe is worth keeping and passing on to the children and grandchildren.
I wasn’t going to make this bread, thinking pear season was pretty much over. While shopping, however, I came across some perfectly ripe yet firm Bartletts. I was glad I did. This cake smelled wonderful while baking, sweet and warmly spicy, and tasted just as delicious. It was moist and dense with nuts, buttery, and nicely pear-flavored. The glaze, while probably not really necessary, was a tangy addition. A terrific breakfast with a cup of steaming coffee. Also delicate enough for a light snack with tea. It kept well, both at room temperature (for several days) and frozen.