The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food politics

individual pear tatins with cinnamon ice cream

individual pear tatin with cinnamon ice cream jump to recipe

Professor Jane Plant, a pioneering scientist and remarkable woman, died in March of this year.

I had not heard of Jane Plant until last year, when a relative who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer recommended that I should read her book Prostate Cancer – Understand, Prevent, Overcome.

Jane Plant was a geochemist by profession, whose personal circumstances ended up taking her in an unexpected direction: researching the impact of diet on human health.

The implications of her research were, and are, revelatory.

Back in 1993, at the age of 42, Jane Plant was diagnosed with breast cancer for a fifth time and was told that she had just a matter of months to live.

With little time and a mounting sense of urgency, Jane applied her scientific mind to a review of all available research into breast cancer and its causes. Up until this time there had been plenty of research into the possible causes of breast cancer, but little attempt to link those various strands of research together.

Eventually, she discovered an interesting anomaly. Women in China and other parts of the far east had a 1 in 100,000 chance of developing breast cancer, whilst in the Western world the chances were over 100 times higher. She also discovered that Chinese women living outside China in (then) more affluent parts of the world, such as the UK and Singapore had almost the same chance of developing breast cancer as other women in the Western world. This suggested it was environment rather than genetics that increased the chances of developing cancer.

Drilling deeper, Jane Plant then looked at the components of the typical Chinese diet, considering for example whether soy consumption provided protection against breast cancer. Eventually, she had a “eureka” moment: Chinese women did not eat dairy products.

On the basis of her discovery, Jane Plant immediately took up a vegan diet alongside other lifestyle adjustments (she did not, however, renounce “conventional” treatment, and also went through a programme of chemotherapy and radiotherapy).

To her astonishment, and that of the doctors who had been treating her, the cancer had disappeared completely within 6 weeks of her change of diet.

Years later, however, the breast cancer returned. At the time, Jane had started to feel confident enough to relax her strict dietary regime and had gone back to eating dairy products.

In total, Jane Plant survived breast cancer 8 times. It was not breast cancer that killed her in the end.

I am pleased to report that following radiotherapy treatment and converting to veganism my relative has made a full and remarkable recovery.

Jane Plant is, or rather was, a brilliant scientist who was also blessed with the ability to explain the complex in a way that made it understandable, and I would recommend her books Prostate Cancer: Understand, Prevent and Overcome and The No-Dairy Breast Cancer Prevention Program to anyone who has a strong interest in the impact of diet on health.


On to the recipe, which I have created in association with Suma Wholefoods Cooperative. Under the terms of our arrangement, I select products from the Suma Wholefoods range which Suma provide free of charge. From these I create an original recipe which appears on the Suma website as well here, on the Circus Gardener’s Kitchen.

These lovely individual pear tart tatins, accompanied by cinnamon flavoured ice cream, make a great vegan, and far less heavy, alternative to Christmas pudding.

You could use powdered cinnamon in the ice cream as a short cut, but I find that using freshly crushed cinnamon gives a richer, woodier and spicier flavour, perfect against the delicate sweetness of the pear.

individual pear tatins with cinnamon ice cream


for the ice cream

1 400 ml can organic coconut milk
1 160 ml can organic coconut cream (liquid not solid form)
1 cinnamon stick, bashed to a powder in a pestle and mortar (equivalent to 2 generous tsp ground cinnamon)
60 ml coconut blossom syrup

for the tatins

2 ripe but firm organic pears
100 ml coconut blossom syrup
20 g odourless coconut oil
sheet or block of vegan puff pastry


1. Place the crushed cinnamon in a saucepan with the coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut flower syrup. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat, then remove from the heat and leave to cool to room temperature. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes then pour the chilled ice cream mixture into an ice cream maker, giving it a quick whisk first, and churn. Once it is starting to set, tip the ice cream out into a freezer proof container. Cover the container with a lid and freeze for at least 4 hours. Remove the ice cream from the freezer and leave to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

3. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (400°F, gas mark 6). Roll out the puff pastry to a thickness of about 3mm and then divide this sheet of pastry into four roughly even pieces. Peel and halve the pears. Lay each pear half cut side down and then mold one of the pastry sheets around it. Trim any excess pastry from the edges.

4. Have to hand a shallow metal baking tray. Place the 100 ml coconut flower syrup and the coconut oil in a pan over a low heat. Whisk until the coconut oil has melted and combined with the syrup, then remove from the heat and pour into the baking sheet, making sure it is evenly distributed.

4. Carefully place the pear tatins on top of the syrup mixture in the baking tray. With a thin bladed sharp knife poke a couple of slits in the pastry shell of each tatin. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes, or until the pastry has turned golden and crispy. Remove from the oven and immediately but carefully lift the individual tatins from the baking sheet with a metal slice and place on individual plates, pear side up. Serve while still warm, with a scoop of the cinnamon ice cream.

Categories: dairy free, vegan

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19 replies

  1. I am normally not a sweets person but that looks divine. I particularly love cinnamon ice cream so this post is very inspiring. Wonderful photo and the food looks delicious.

  2. Western medicine has been slow to embrace the adage that we are what we eat, and sadly big business has a vested interest in us eating there nutrition poor foods. There mega bucks have a bigger impact on society than those that promote health and wellbeing. Your recipes are the prime example of simple tasty natural and nutritious.

  3. PS ! Oops! My theres should be their, sorry

  4. Thanks so much for introducing me to Jane Plant. What an amazing lateral thinking she was.

  5. Hi Steve.  I have no problem in revealing myself as the relative (brother-in-law) you mention.  I cannot of course prove how much my dietary changes have contributed to the excellent progress I have made since being diagnosed with a highly aggressive form of prostate cancer two years ago. But I ain’t changing ’em. And now my oncologist has just told me that I can finish my hormone therapy a year early, meaning that I will have my last injection next month. My PSA readings continue to be at or below the lowest measurable level. 

    Since adopting Jane Plant’s regimen I  have continued researching the literature further and can thoroughly recommend the following books. Firstly:

    ‘How Not To Die’ by Dr Michael Greger

    This book describes in scientific (but very readable) terms the effect that diet can have on the top fifteen causes of premature death in Western societies. It also advises on the advantages and possible pitfalls of a plant-based diet.

    Anyone who wants to delve deeper into the science behind a pure vegetarian diet should then read:

    “Becoming Vegan” by Brenda Davies and Vesanto Melina.

    This book is very scientific but I can’t imagine that there is another which better analyses all of the foodstuffs essential for a complete diet, yet still vegan. 

    To finish I have to say that, contrary to what some might think, I am eating a far greater variety of foods and enjoying  my meals more than I have ever done. A pure vegetarian (vegan) diet need NOT be boring, as long as you put a bit more effort into it. If you don’t it could just as easily be as unhealthy as a conventional omnivorous diet biased towards a high meat input. Just make sure you know the facts and don’t be brainwashed by the big food corporations. And read the books!


  6. Hi there i was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer in 2009 and made a concerted effort to eat well during treatment.i am veggie anyway, bur only ate organic at the time. I have since grown much more of my own food and have had so much fun, enjoyment and satisfaction from eating it..
    Thank you for your posts,;they inspire me to cook more and be more adventurous

    • Hi Susan. Thank you so much for getting in touch and for sharing your experience with cancer. Growing your own food is so liberating, healthy and rewarding. Thank you, too, for your kind comments about my recipes. Steve 🙂

  7. Haven’t come across coconut blossom syrup. Will have to visit the health food shops. (as usual) Such an interesting post, I could be wrong, but I thought I heard / read that the Chinese are starting to import dairy products. I love my dairy products, oh dear. 🙂

    • Hi Mary. Like you, I hadn’t come across coconut blossom syrup until I spotted it recently in the Suma catalogue and thought “I’ve got to try that”. It’s a 100% natural product. You could substitute maple syrup, although you might want to add slightly more as coconut blossom syrup is a touch sweeter.
      You are right: as their country grows in affluence, the Chinese are rapidly adopting a Western-style diet. Increased prevalence of Western-style diet-related diseases and conditions – obesity, diabetes, fatty liver disease, heart disease as well as cancer – will surely follow.


  8. PS. Do you have the answer to why home made ice cream is rock hard unless you leave it out for 10 – 15 minutes?

    • The softness of the ice cream is due primarily to the fat content, which does not freeze. Vegan ice creams do not have the fat content of conventional dairy ice cream. I tend to add coconut cream in addition to coconut milk to help address this problem. The use of a liquid sweetener also helps. In my recipe archive is another ice cream recipe in which I (successfully) used olive oil to try to overcome the problem. Personally, I don’t mind leaving my ice cream to stand for a while to allow it to soften up, provided I remember to get it out of the freezer in time!

      Steve 🙂

  9. I really wonder at times, if at the age of 73, there is any point in changing my diet. My diet is basically, I will eat anything that is put in front of me. And my biggest health problem is arthritis. And I would DEFINITELY eat that pear.

  10. The cinnamon ice cream sounds divine, thank you for sharing 🙂

  11. What an awesome and yummy looking vegan pudding. I have vegans in the family and will for sure try this. Thanks for sharing


  1. Individual Pear Tatins with Cinnamon Ice Cream – Stay Home Superhero

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