Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pear Coffee Cake

It's been a busy 2009 so far. I've had little time for baking, and even less for blogging. Here's the first of what I hope will be several catch-up installments: the Pear Coffee Cake I made for Christmas breakfast. It admirably met my requirement for a delicious treat that would function equally well as both breakfast and dessert.

I adapted this from the recipe for "Buttermilk Peach Coffee Cake" I found in this delightful book:

The Cake Book, by Tish Boyle

The Hilo Public Library has closed for three months for roof repair and renovations, so any books borrowed the last week in December aren't due back until the end of March, which is cool, so I grabbed some cookbooks while I was stocking up. The Coffee Cake is the only thing I've made from this book so far, but I've been browsing (and drooling) a lot, and hubbie has a birthday coming up, so stay tuned.

You'll find the original coffee cake recipe on page 108. Here's how I made my pear version. As usual, I used some WW flour, yogurt instead of buttermilk, used a little brown sugar, added some cinnamon and cardamom (so good with pears), and so on. I used some rolled oats and spices in the topping, too, and pecans instead of almonds 'cause that's what I had lying around.

The original peach version (probably also delicious) calls for a drizzle of white sugar glaze, which I skipped because at that point I was tired of being in the kitchen and this looked like it was going to be sweet and fattening enough without it. Which it was.

Pear Coffee Cake

2 bartlett pears
3 tsp lemon juice (divided)
1 C all purpose flour
1 C whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
3/4 C unsalted butter (12 T; 1.5 sticks), soft
3/4 C sugar
1/4 C brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 C plain whole milk yogurt
1/4 C whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350 and butter and flour a 9" round baking pan or springform pan.

Peel, core, and dice the pears, and toss in a small bowl with 2 tsp of the lemon juice. Set aside.

Sift together the flours, baking soda and powder, salt, and spices. Set aside.
Mix the yogurt and milk with the remaining tsp of lemon juice (it will curdle; that's okay). Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add the vanilla extract and blend in.

Beat in half the flour mixture at low speed, then the yogurt mixture, then the rest of the flour mixture.

Spoon half the batter into the baking pan and smooth the top. Top with the pears (scattered evenly over the batter) and half of the crumble topping (below). Cover with the rest of the batter and then the rest of the crumb topping.

Bake 50 minutes or until done. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. If using a springform pan, remove the sides after cake has cooled for 20 minutes.

Crumble Topping/Filling

1/2 C all purpose flour
1/2 C rolled oats
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
pinch nutmeg
2/3 cup pecans
4 T butter (soft)
1/4 C milk

Put all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until well blended and the nuts are chopped. This will be thick and sticky, not dry Use a fork to drop clumbs of it all over the top of the coffee cake before baking.


I followed the recipe's instructions to place 1/2 the batter in the pan, then add the fruit, sprinkle with half the crumble topping (that's what the odd-looking dark bits in the middle are, in the photo, above), then top with the rest of the batter and the rest of the crumble. Next time:

1) I'll use a little more pear (some of mine was mushy and had to be tossed, so I ended up with less than expected) and fold it into the batter rather than putting it all in the middle.

2) I'll make less crumble topping and only use it on top.

3) I'll use a metal baking pan. I used my large, glass, deep-dish pie pan for this, 'cause something else was in the metal pan I should have used (don't remember what, but the glass pan was option #2). This meant it baked longer, even at a slightly higher temp, and the bottom and top got darker than they probably should be by the time the middle was done.

This coffee cake was delicious, though. I ate way too much of it, without a single regret. I'll definitely consider making it again, when a year or so has passed and I've forgotten the damage it contributed to my end-of-year weigh-in.

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