Harvest time is a slippery slope leading directly to holiday feasting. In Central Europe, any fruit that isn't consumed fresh or canned is dried, to be turned into all kind of dishes that presage the holidays. In Switzerland and Southern Germany, dried pears are saved for Hutzelbrot—dried pear bread—that appears in many seasonal markets. Now Runner & Stone's Peter Endriss, whose father hails from Germany's Schwarzwald region, has begun to produce an excellent Hutzelbrot ($8) to help usher in the cold weather.
The essence of Hutzelbrot is a large amount of dried fruits and nuts and just enough dough to hold it together. Peter makes his with about 70 percent dried pears, figs, prunes, raisins, almonds, and hazelnuts and 30 percent Farmer Ground rye and white flours and yeast. To pique the tastebuds, he adds just a touch of anise and cinnamon. The result is an incomparably dense, moist, chewy, and flavorful loaf. The crunch of the nuts provides a counterpoint to the softness of the fruit, while the delicate spicing just livens up the flavor. A slice really needs no topping, but I like to lightly toast mine and cover it with a thin layer of cream cheese and honey.