“Bake your Wardens in an earthen Pot, with a little Claret, some Spice, Lemon-peal, and Sugar ; when you will use them peal off the skin and dress them in Plates, either Whole or in Halfs ; then make a Jelly of Pippins, sharpened well with the Juice of Lemons, and pour it upon them, and when cold, break the Jelly with a Spoon, so will it look very agreeable upon the red Pears.“
Edward Lambert, The Art of Confectionary (1761)
This one seems like a nice, easy recipe to follow, if you already know how to make a jelly of pippins. Edward Lambert clearly assumed his readership would have that particular preserve in their repertoire (but if you haven’t made the stuff before, you could try this recipe for ‘Codlin or Pippin Jelly‘ by M. L. Lemery, published in 1737).
A ‘Warden’, in case you’re wondering, is a type of cooking pear – inedibly rock-hard when raw, but delicious when stewed, poached or baked – that was widely grown and hugely popular from the middle ages through to the nineteenth century, when they rather fell out of favour due to the much wider availability of a much broader range of pears that were much easier to eat without cooking.
You can still get wardens today, if you know where to look; your best bet is probably the warden-esque ‘Black Worcester’ (or ‘Worcester Black’) which is still grown in discerning heritage orchards. For more on the warden, your best source of information would be Margaret Roberts’ superb book on the subject, The Original Warden Pear, which I featured in a Book Notes post earlier in the week.
No additional colouring is necessary to turn your wardens red by the way; one characteristic that wardens are renowned for is that they turn a deep, glorious red when you slow-bake them. In the case of Lambert’s ‘Compote’ the claret would have helped, of course, and you could always add a couple of drops of cochineal or a sprinkle of sandalwood to the cooking liquor if you really wanted a bright scarlet finish.
If you decide to give baked wardens a try, with or without the accompanying pippin jelly, please do let me know how you get on. You can email me with your notes and photos, or just leave a comment below.