I am dying to make the Marzipan Fruit Cake from How To Be A Domestic Goddess (p34), but for some unknown reason, dried pears are not available in Germany and I have looked high and low for them. I have even considered ordering online. Are there any suitable substitutions?
It is slightly odd that dried pears are scarece in Germany as there is a type of speciality bread (Kletzenbrot) which is made with dried pears. It is often served on Christmas Eve so you may find dried pears making their way into stores or markets as Christmas approaches. Also it is worth checking health food stores and natural food stores as they are good sources for dried fruits. However, if pears are impossible to find then the next closest product would be dried apples.
Dried apples tend to come in two forms, the thin crisp type and thicker, softer ones, often sold as dried apple rings or ready to eat dried apple. It is the thicker, softer type that is needed for the recipe. There will however be a slight difference in the texture as pears tend to have a slightly grainy texture whereas apples tend to have a smoother texture. You can use the same weight of dried apples and chop them into pieces - easiest done with a pair of kitchen scissors.
For the UK dried pears are becoming slightly more difficult to find in supermarkets but can be found in some natural food stores or on-line from Julian Graves (see link below)