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Poched Winter Pears // 1920s

Updated: May 5, 2020

A warming recipe that will fill your home with a beautiful festive scent, this 1920s poched pear recipe has become an instant winter favourite for us. The least complex desserts can often be the most fulfilling; partiularly on a cold winter's night.
Original Recipe: 'Pear Compote' (Book 4, 1928)
Speed: Depending on type of pear, 1-2 hours | Serves: 4-6


  • 1½ lb of winter pears (we used four Doyenne du Comice pears)

  • 1 lemon

  • Cloves

  • 213 ml water

  • 113 g sugar

  • Cochineal red food colouring



1. Peel the lemon thinly and put the peel in a small saucepan with the water and sugar. Boil this for 10 minutes (we used a medium heat, reducing this to low after 1 minute).

2. Peel the pears, cut them in half and remove the cores. Put these into a casserole or stewpan with 4 cloves or more if you prefer a stronger flavour (we used 6).

3. Pour the syrup over these and add the juice of the lemon.

4. If using a casserole dish (as we did), bake until tender. For us, this took 30 minutes at 180°C fan (350°F/Gas Mark 4).

The recipe advises that some pear varieties can take longer but does not go into detail. We advise that you keep check on the progress after half an hour or so, testing the firmness of the pears by gently pressing with the back of a spoon. The pears are cooked once soft and easily cut with a spoon.

If using a stewpan, bake these slowly on the gas at a low heat. No timing details have been given by the recipe; we advise that you keep a close eye on the pears if using this method and check whether they are cooked using the method mentioned above.

5. When tender, remove the pears from the oven/hob and using a spoon, remove each pear carefully and place them in a serving dish.

6. Stick one or two cloves in each pear.

7. Colour the syrup with a few drops of cochineal red food colouring and pour the syrup around the pears.

8. Using a pastry brush, paint the centre of each pear with a line of colouring.


Original Recipe for 'Pear Compote'

'BOOK 4': Bestway Cookery Gift Book (Third Book) (1928)

By: Best Way

Publisher: Offices of The 'Best Way' Series (Fleetway House, Farringdon Street, London, E.C.4, England, U.K.)

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