Pear Streusel Coffee Cake

If you do nothing else this weekend, make this cake. I know it’s a long weekend and I should be shoving BBQ and appetizer and cocktail recipes down your throat.  And believe me, those are three of my favorite things. But I want to talk about something else. I’ve got pears languishing in the garden as far as the eye can see. It’s a virtual fruit graveyard. I have such an issue with wasting food. I can’t help but think of kids (and people, for that matter) going to bed hungry while we’re letting it rot on the ground. It makes me feel super badddddd.

I gotta be honest, I’m not really one for cooking with pears. It’s not my go-to baking fruit. Every year, I give away A LOT of my pears. However, I wanted to mix things up this season so I busted out the laptop and Googled ‘Pears Recipe Baking.’ Why I think Google will understand me better when I write like a foreigner makes zero sense to me. And I don’t think Google liked it much either because I was given a handful of baked and roasted pear recipes. Not the treasure trove of pear delights that I was looking for.  After my recent crostata  triumph (and feeling a little full of myself) I thought perhaps a galette might be the way to go. And then I was off searching the difference between a crostata and a galette. As best as I can tell, one is Italian and the other is French. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. I’d really like to know.

Then something came to me out of nowhere and said: cake. I should make a pear cake. Do a cake tai tai. Can you hear it? It was a very pre-Halloween, ghost-like voice. Between you and me, I was thinking coffee cake.  Yes, cake for breakfast. Let’s hope the ghost agrees.

I love me some coffee cake. I love me some Barefoot Contessa coffee cake. Ina knows how to simplify recipes and they come out delicious every time. Her instructions are the best. Fail-proof. Do you like how we’re on a first-name basis?

Below is my interpretation of her Sour Cream Coffee Cake. I made a couple of ingredient alterations/substitutions and had my way with the instructions a bit. They felt a little cheap afterwards, but they’ll be ok.

Pear Streusel Coffee Cake

Makes 8 Servings

INGREDIENTS

For the Cake

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 tablespoon to toss the pears in
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt salt
  • 1.5 sticks of unsalted butter (12 tablespoons), room temperature
  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1.5 teaspoons real vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups Greek yogurt, 2% or higher fat
  • 2 pears, cored, peeled and diced

For the Streusel

  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup chopped almonds or dark chocolate…depending on how frisky you’re feeling…these are optional and for thrill-seekers only

For the Glaze

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Heat your oven to 350 degrees F. As far as cakes go, this baby goes fast. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt cake pan.
  • Whisk together the flour, corn starch, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.
  • Put the butter and the sugar in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat until nice and light and fluffy. Add your eggs, vanilla and yogurt. Scrape down the sides of the bowl (and the bottom) so that everything gets mixed beautifully. Shouldn’t someone come up with a machine that can mix ingredients without needing me to step in? I’m just saying if I can get an espresso at the push of a button…
  • Sprinkle the flour mixture around the bowl of the sugar/ butter mixture and blend on low until just combined. Don’t overdo it. This is a really rich, golden batter. Don’t you just want to swim in it?
  • Toss your diced pears in the additional 1 tablespoon of flour. Can I just say a quick note on the size of the pears? In this instance, size does matter. I don’t want to take a bite of my coffee cake and get a big mouthful of pear. I want a little pear in every bite. So make it a small dice. Using a spatula, fold the pears into the cake batter. Be GENTLE. You want the pears suspended in the batter.
  • In another bowl, mix the streusel ingredients: brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and butter. I like to use a pastry blender for this. You want to make sure that the butter is pretty well blended. Add the almonds or chocolate, or both. Mix well and set aside.Evenly sprinkle the pears over the top of the batter.
  • Pour half of the cake batter into the bundt pan; then sprinkle with 3/4’s of the streusel. Pour remaining batter on top and then cover with the remaining 1/4 streusel mixture.
  • Bake for 50 minutes, watching your cake around 45 minutes depending on your oven heat.
  • This next note is CRUCIAL. Don’t get all excited and flip it out of the pan. It will end up sticking to the sides and leaving half of the cake in the pan. So if you’re having people over allow this hot little number enough time to cool down before serving.  I’m thinking an hour would be ideal.
  • I love the glaze for this. I think it looks a little thin in my photos. I like it thicker, you want to see some whiteness against the tan of the cake. Play around with the liquid to powdered sugar ratio until you get the consistency you desire. This is such a forgiving glaze because you can always add liquid (water or syrup) to thin it and if it gets too thin, just throw in some more powdered sugar. Make sure you give this a good whisk so that all of the clumps are out. You could sift the powdered sugar beforehand, but then you’d have to do more dishes.
  • You could get funky here with flavors. Instead of the maple syrup, you could use some fresh squeezed orange juice? If you used the chocolate in the streusel, I think that would be grand. What about grapefruit…I have no idea why grapefruit is coming to my mind but it is. Just a whisper telling me grapefruit. Are you there ghost, it’s me Tai Tai.
  • When you are absolutely sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the cake is truly cooled down, you can flip it over and glaze it. Maybe run a butter knife gently along the sides to make sure the cake will willingly pull away from the side of the pan.
  • Now, it’s not like me to miss an occasion to pair liquor with breakfast. And I’m not about to start now. Tequila Sunrise? Nah. You’d be a hot steaming mess by noon. I don’t know why a Bloody Mary seems like a more refined booze option, but she has my vote. After all, it is Labor Day. You’ve worked hard. You deserve this. And Halloween is just around the corner…

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