Pear Coffee Cake
On slow weekend mornings, it’s nice to let your partner sleep — and take the kiddo down to the kitchen for some breakfast-y mess-making. Even better if the project is coffee cake because, when the snoozer does wake up, it’ll be to the sweet smell of cinnamon, brown sugar, and nuts baking. Coffee cake is super fun for little kids: they love to get their hands into that streusel, rubbing clumps of gooey butter and sugar into the oats mixture. (After all, the best part of any baking project is licking it off your fingers.)
Aside from being a treat to make, this is also a wonderful coffee cake to eat. Everyone loves the streusel part of coffee cake so much that it sometimes feels like the cake itself gets short shrift. That’s impossible here: the crumb is notably light and tender, and it tastes like real cake — thanks to two sticks of butter, a fat dollop of sour cream, and a generous splash of vanilla.
That said, the streusel is awesome. All its ratios are perfect: It has all the flour, butter, and sugar it needs to hold together — and to bake into a golden brown crust on the top of the cake (not a dry crumble next to it). And the ratio of streusel to cake is ideal (read: heavy on the streusel). It has all the warm flavors of fall, with a delightfully nutty crunch from the pecans. We love how the fan of pear slices sinks into the streusel as the cake bakes, crisping up and almost caramelizing in the topping’s sugars.
It probably goes without saying that a slab of warm pear coffee cake and a strong cup of coffee make a great start to the day. (If you’re feeling celebrational, a glass of champagne is nice, too). But we’d also support pulling the cake out again after dinner, putting a great big scoop of vanilla ice cream on it, and calling it dessert.
For the streusel:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp kosher salt
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
For the coffee cake:
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
3 large Gelson’s eggs
1 ¼ cups sour cream
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
To make the streusel: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. With your hands, rub the butter into the mixture until incorporated, pressing it into clumps. Refrigerate the topping until chilled, about 20 minutes.
To make the coffee cake: Preheat the oven to 350° and grease a 9x13” baking pan.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the sour cream and vanilla.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat the dry ingredients into the batter in three additions until just incorporated.
Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan, spreading it into an even layer. Cover with the streusel topping and place the pear slices on top of the streusel.
Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the crumb topping is browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the cake cool completely, about 1 hour. Cut into squares and serve. The cake can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Recipe adapted from Food & Wine