Saffron and Honey Pears

Aromatic saffron and sweet honey add their distinctive flavour to poached pears in James Martin's recipe for an elegant dessert
By James Martin
Saffron and Honey Pears
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 8
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes plus 5 mins steeping plus cooling
  • Effort: easy



  • 2 good pinches of strands saffron
  • 2 tbsp boiling water
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange
  • 300 g caster sugar
  • 500 ml water
  • 6 tbsp clear honey
  • 8 Comice pears, slightly under-ripe

To serve:

  • home-made crème brulee or a fifty-fifty mixture of marscapone to whipped double cream, sweetened with vanilla sugar

Tips and Suggestions

If you wish to make this a vegan dish omit the crème brulee/mascarpone and replace the honey with maple syrup.


1. Steep the saffron stands in the boiling water for 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, peel the zest from the lemon and orange in thin strips using a swivel vegetable peeler.

3. Squeeze the juice from the lemon.

4. Place the orange and lemon zest in a large saucepan with the caster sugar and water. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 2-3 minutes.

5. Add the saffron strands with their soaking water and the honey.

6. Peel the pears with a swivel vegetable peeler. Using the end of the peeler or the tip of a small sharp knife, remove the core from the base. Leave the stalks in place for decoration.

7. Add the pears to the saffron honey syrup and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pears with a wetted, crumpled sheet of greaseproof paper to hold them under the syrup, cover the pan and simmer for about 30 minutes, turning the pears occasionally, until tender.

8. Remove the pears with a slotted spoon and place in a large jar with a tight-fitting lid (ideally a Kilner-type jar).

9. Boil the syrup for 10 minutes to thicken slightly and pour over the pears. Leave until quite cold before serving.

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