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Watch: How to make cassis and bay-baked pears with blackberries

A gorgeous autumnal dessert from Diana Henry’s new cookbook, From the Oven to the Table

Pears are the most adaptable, well-behaved, rewarding fruits for autumn and winter puddings. Their flesh really sucks up other flavours, becoming imbued with red wine, Marsala, cinnamon, star anise or whatever else you choose. This is a ‘very-beginning-of-autumn’ dessert, to be made while blackberries are still around.

Bay is underrated in sweet dishes; its peppery, slightly menthol flavour is subtle, but it provides a savoury hum. This is best made the day before serving, then the pears have time to take on the rich colour of the wine and cassis.

Prep time:  5 minutes, plus cooling time | Cooking time:  20-35 minutes

SERVES

Six

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 just-ripe pears
  • 100ml cassis
  • 300ml red wine
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 150g blackberries

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/180C fan/Gas 5.
  2. Halve the pears – you don’t need to peel or core them – and put them, cut sides up, into a gratin dish in which the fruit can sit quite snugly in a single layer.
  3. Pour the cassis and red wine over the pears, sprinkle with the sugar and tuck the bay leaves under the fruit.
  4. Bake – spooning the juices over the pears from time to time – until the fruits are tender right through to the centre (how long this takes depends on the ripeness of the fruit; start checking after 20 minutes, but it could take as long as 35 minutes). It’s a good idea to turn the pears over a couple of times while they’re cooking.
  5. By the time the fruit is cooked, the juice around it won’t be thick, but should be syrupy and sweet enough to serve as it is. If you don’t think it is, then remove the pears and bay leaves and reduce the juices by boiling them for a little while, leave to cool, then pour them back into the dish with the pears.
  6. Add the berries about 30 minutes before you want to serve, spooning the juices over them, otherwise they get very soft sitting in the red wine syrup.

Recipe from From the Oven to the Table: Simple dishes that look after themselves, by Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley, £25). Order your copy for £20 from books.telegraph.co.uk