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Upside Down Pear Crunch Coffee Cake

Upside Down Pear Crunch Coffee Cake from Elizabeth Falkner

by Creative Culinary on November 5, 2012

Bread or cake? Sometimes it’s hard to tell, especially with quick breads; except for the pan they’re baked in they often seem to fall closer to the cake group. The items on this document from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture consider a lot of our everyday baked goods as quick breads – those breads that do not require yeast. The list is long and varied and includes muffins, coffeecakes, scones, waffles, and pancakes. Coffeecakes? Who knew? Although quick and yeast breads are typically categorized because of the leavening agents, all quick breads are just that: breads that can be made in a short period of time and with very little effort. What is there not to love about that? And that is what I loved about this coffee cake. Easy and amazing too. I don’t think I baked with pears until a few years ago and now I look so forward to them showing up in the market each fall. This coffeecake is now officially on the list of why.


Although I love occasionally making a loaf of yeast bread (especially focaccia and challah) I have limited time to be paying attention to rising so you’ll most often see something quicker on this site. I only wish I had the the time to proof yeast and knead and…no I don’t. I’ve never been one to get the joy from that activity that others do; maybe it’s my tendency towards carpal tunnel when kneading which can lead to my hands killing me all night long? Yeah…that must be it!

Elizabeth Falkner’s Latest

I was recently asked if I would like to use this recipe from Elizabeth Falkner who some of you may know from the Food Network. She has a new restaurant, Krescendo, opening in Brooklyn, has appeared in several culinary competitions and is the author of ‘Cooking Off the Clock: Recipes From My Downtime‘ published just last month by Ten Speed Press. Look for her in the Food Network’s ‘The Next Iron Chef – Redemption” competition too; she is a character and I only wish I could see her in action but I no longer get the Food Network…invite me over, OK?

Elizabeth has partnered with gourmet gift retailer Harry & David for a Seasonal Chef Program. She created three seasonally-inspired recipes including this Upside Pear Crunch Coffee Cake, an easy-at-home recipe which is a fabulous breakfast treat for next Sunday or for your holiday dessert table. I recently received a gorgeous basket of fruit from Harry and David and can attest to the quality of their pears…they are the BEST!

While we struggled a bit deciding how to place the pear slices ‘just right’ it didn’t really seem to matter. What I loved? My daughter and her friend were here and they not only went on and on about the fabulous scent that enveloped them when they walked inside the foyer but were even more taken with the final result. It was simple and stunning. And guess what else? Quick! Really nothing difficult at all but something magical happens at times with a combination of ingredients and this bread is the perfect example. A moist and rich cake (oops, I mean bread) with pears and a brown sugar and butter topping. Umm, umm good!

Upside Pear Crunch Coffee Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
An upside down pear coffee cake with a brown sugar and cinnamon topping.
For the Crunch:
  • 1 ½ C. demerara sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ t. ground nutmeg
  • ½ t. salt
  • 1 TB. flour
  • 2 TB. butter
For the Coffee Cake:
  • 2. large Pears, cored and sliced into ½ " slices with skin on
  • 4 oz. unsalted butter
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 2 ea. large eggs
  • 1 C. sour cream
  • ¼ C. milk
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ C. flour
  • 1 ½ t. baking powder
  • ½ t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt
To Make the Topping:
  1. Work all ingredients together with a food processor, spatula or your fingers and set aside.
To Make the Coffee Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees convection. (Without a convection oven, baking will take longer).
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together with a spatula or in a mixer with paddle attachment.
  3. Add the eggs and combine to mix thoroughly.
  4. Add the sour cream, milk and vanilla extract and mix into butter and egg mixture thoroughly.
  5. Add dry ingredients just to combine.
To Assemble:
  1. Spray the inside of two loaf pans with vegetable oil or rub lightly with butter.
  2. Sprinkle half of the topping mixture divided between 2 loaf pans. Divide the pear slices lined down each loaf pan on top of the Crunch layer. Divide Coffee Cake batter over the pears in each pan. Finally, divide the rest of the Crunch over the batter in each pan. Bake for 30 minutes until cake is set.
To Serve:
  1. Cool completely, this takes awhile, be patient. Then invert cake upside when cool, slice and serve.
The recipe I received called for 30 minutes using a convection oven. I'm lucky to have one and because I'm at altitude I increased my temp to 350 degrees. We had to bake this coffee cake for an additional 20 minutes at least so I've indicated a bit longer baking time but please be sure to test with a toothpick; it should come out clean after inserting into the center of the cake.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: Serves 16; 8 slices per loaf


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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Betsy @ Desserts Requiredt October 20, 2014 at 6:23 pm

This is a gorgeous quick bread/cake. I can understand why everyone loved not only the tease from entering your house but the actual taste!


2 Creative Culinary October 20, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Thank you Betsy; I’m so fond of pineapple upside down cake that I might have not given other fruits a change; glad I did with this one.


3 Sherron@Simply Gourmet December 7, 2012 at 1:15 pm

WOW. I love the idea of using pears this way. Your bread looks perfect too. Elizabeth’s book sounds amazing.
Sherron@Simply Gourmet Most Recent Post: 244. Shredded Chicken with Green Chili’s


4 Creative Culinary December 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Thanks so much Sherron…I don’t often think of using pears for breads but this was perfect.


5 Jayne November 28, 2012 at 8:19 am

This looks wonderful, so moist and delicious! I so wish I’d gone with a quick bread this month, ah well we live and learn! Great loaf Barb!


6 Creative Culinary November 28, 2012 at 9:24 am

I think I’m vying for the quick bread queen title. I love making yeast bread but have precious little time for them. This was fabulous too…I love pears in baked goods; far more than I do raw.


7 Renee - Kudos Kitchen November 16, 2012 at 6:56 am

Well, I completely messed up for this month’s #TwelveLoaves.
I thought the theme for this month was fruit and not specifically apples and pears. My bad.
I made the most incredible cinnamon raisin bread for my submission and now I realize that made it only for my own enjoyment. Boo Hoo. LOL I’ll have to be more careful in the future. That said, I think I’ll still submit it if it’s OK? Do tell.
Renee – Kudos Kitchen Most Recent Post: Spicy Cilantro Honey Lime Chicken Thighs


8 Creative Culinary November 16, 2012 at 8:36 am

I think times like this show what it’s really like to be a cook…an oops is always part of our experience…let’s share those too!


9 Kelly Senyei (Just a Taste) November 13, 2012 at 10:08 am

I’m new to your site and cannot wait to search around for more enticing recipes! This one really caught my eye. Adding it to the Thanksgiving menu for sure!
Kelly Senyei (Just a Taste) Most Recent Post: Pecan Pie Brownies


10 Creative Culinary November 13, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Welcome Kelly…we just loved it…have a nice holiday. Barb


11 Shanna@ pineapple and coconut November 12, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Finally got my post up! I had fun making my recipe for #Twelve Loaves. Thanks for letting me join in the fun!
Shanna@ pineapple and coconut Most Recent Post: Apfelkuchen ( Bavarian Apple Cake) for #TwelveLoaves


12 Autumn November 8, 2012 at 5:55 pm
13 Creative Culinary November 9, 2012 at 11:31 am

Smelled absolutely divine in the oven…and tasted even better. We inhaled those two loaves WAY too quickly. :)


14 Chris @ Menus For A Week November 7, 2012 at 11:18 pm

Thanks for letting us know the step by step preparation process for this Coffee Cake. I will try to prepare for this weekend. Hoping the taste of my preparation will be good. :-)


15 Laura (Tutti Dolci) November 7, 2012 at 9:51 pm

How scrumptious, I love the pears!
Laura (Tutti Dolci) Most Recent Post: chocolate chip & cranberry muffins


16 Aly ~ Cooking In Stilettos November 7, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Making bread is one of those things that terrifies me. Granted I have a bread machine and have made it a few times but to make a loaf from scratch – not a mix… I swear Barb – y’all inspire me :) I might have to give #TwelveLoaves a whirl.

If I do have to make a bread, it’s pumpkin bread (or a harvest bread) – definitely a quick bread with “spirited” dried fruit and tons of flavor :)
Aly ~ Cooking In Stilettos Most Recent Post: The Barefoot Contessa Is Foolproof On The Today Show And A Book Tour Update


17 Creative Culinary November 7, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Do it! Try focaccia…I think it’s about the easiest ever as a starter or well, beer bread which creates a yeast like loaf without the yeast like hassles! :)


18 Sylvie Shirazi (@gourmandeinthek) November 7, 2012 at 3:04 am

I’m more of a quick bread baker, yeast breads have always been more of a challenge and time commitment whereas quick breads have more instant gratification and I have to say I love that!
Sylvie Shirazi (@gourmandeinthek) Most Recent Post: Raw Kale, Cabbage and Carrot Chopped Salad with Maple Sesame Vinaigrette


19 Creative Culinary November 7, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I am too Sylvie…I LOVE yeast bread but my schedule does not. :)


20 Kate | Food Babbles November 6, 2012 at 4:22 pm

I have only attempted an upside down cake of any type once and well, it didn’t go so well. I think that’s scared me off from reattempting. This looks fabulous! It may inspire me to give upside down cakes another shot. In the meantime, I can’t wait to start thinking about what I’ll submit for Twelve Loaves this month!
Kate | Food Babbles Most Recent Post: Cinnamon Apple Bread with Vanilla Buttermilk Glaze – Secret Recipe Club


21 Creative Culinary November 6, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Oh you HAVE to try again…that magic of sugar and butter in the bottom is one of my most favorite things! I can’t wait to see what you do!


22 Rachael {SimplyFreshCooking} November 6, 2012 at 9:29 am

Oh so yummy!!!!! I think the pears sound so good! :)
Rachael {SimplyFreshCooking} Most Recent Post: Spicy Beef and Potato Curry


23 Creative Culinary November 6, 2012 at 1:05 pm

I have never done pears like this and they now rival pineapple!


24 Terra November 5, 2012 at 7:40 pm

I love Chef Elizabeth! I was so hoping she would have won the Next Iron Chef last year. How fun to get to try her recipe, it sounds and looks sooooo good! I totally agree, a upside down cake should be part of the bread group:-) Yum, Hugs, Terra


25 Creative Culinary November 5, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Well she’s coming back…I like her too…her independent spirit is fabulous and I’ve always loved her wacko cake creations. I don’t miss a lot of the Food Network shows but she and Alton are missed. I like characters!


26 Lora @cakeduchess November 5, 2012 at 7:31 pm

It was so interesting to read those links about how a coffee cake is a quick bread. I really never knew that. Now to this cake-oh my yumminess! I love the crunch and those pears are perfectly gorgeous. This is really my favorite kind of cake. Great addition to #TwelveLoaves:)
Lora @cakeduchess Most Recent Post: Apple Bread Ring-#Twelve Loaves November


27 Creative Culinary November 5, 2012 at 8:52 pm

It was truly fantastic…but next month it’s yeast I promise. Uh oh…wait; if I recall what our theme was, then maybe that will have to wait another month. :)


28 Shanna@ pineapple and coconut November 5, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Yum this looks really good. I have been wanting to make pear upside down something for a while. I will try this recipe soon!
I actually like making quick breads and yeast breads. Yeast takes longer but its so worth it. I am definitely not afraid of working with it. Just as long as its not a yeast product that I have to deep fry – that I am afraid of. But yeast, flour the rest of the ingredients and an oven? I am all about it
Shanna@ pineapple and coconut Most Recent Post: Halloween Candy Cheesecake


29 Creative Culinary November 5, 2012 at 8:54 pm

I like doing both too…I just find juggling the real job and the blog job leave me little time to devote to yeast breads; quick breads work on so many levels…including that quick business! :) Love to have you join us!


30 Maureen | Orgasmic Chef November 5, 2012 at 4:17 pm

The top (bottom) of that bread simply glistens with syrupy sweetness. What a beautiful bread and then to read that it smells ambrosial, I’m sold.
Maureen | Orgasmic Chef Most Recent Post: Eat Drink Blog 2012


31 Creative Culinary November 5, 2012 at 8:35 pm

It was so very good; actually it still is! I gave my daughter one of the loaves; well, she begged me. :)


32 Creative Culinary November 5, 2012 at 8:54 pm

YOU might have called it Orgasmic. :)


33 kitchenriffs November 5, 2012 at 4:11 pm

I definitely consider “quick” breads bread – yeast breads are great, but they’re just one type of bread (admittedly, a very popular one). Anyway, this looks terrific. I enjoyed baked pears, and it’s nice to include them in a nice bread like this. It’s really pretty, too! Good stuff – thanks.
kitchenriffs Most Recent Post: The Ward Eight Cocktail


34 Creative Culinary November 5, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Thank you…this worked on so many levels…I actually liked my own photo too and I can’t always say that! :)


35 Brian @ A Thought For Food November 5, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Well, if the experts say it is… it must be true! I’m loving this scrumptious looking upside down cake! And I can’t think of a better way to serve up some Harry and David pears ;-)


36 Creative Culinary November 5, 2012 at 8:56 pm

I can deny that the became experts when their info matched what I wanted to find…that still counts right? :)


37 Paula November 5, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Being a resident of Canada I’m not entering for the book giveaway but had to comment anyway and tell you how wonderful your pear crunch coffee cake looks. I can also imagine how good this would be using apples as well. Thanks for sharing the recipe Barb.
Paula Most Recent Post: Halloween Hooters


38 Creative Culinary November 5, 2012 at 8:56 pm

We have to work on these folks…mailing a book to Canada is not that big of a deal is it? Anyway…it is lovely and I agree, apples would be fabulous too.


39 Donna November 5, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Must make this for a luscious Autumn brunch!!….Question…I have a husband with an unfortunate aversion to pears…could I possibly sub apples or another fruit?…He loves the crunch part (as do I!)….Thanks so much for sharing this splendid recipe!


40 Creative Culinary November 5, 2012 at 2:17 pm

I’ve only done it with pears but don’t see why apples wouldn’t work well too. Plenty of time for them to bake in the pan and soften. Try it…and if you do it this month; be sure to come back and share it with us!


41 Joan Shaffer November 5, 2012 at 1:51 pm

This sure is mouthwatering! And I can’t wait to try it on my own! I just love pears!


42 Creative Culinary November 5, 2012 at 2:18 pm

It’s the first time I’ve made an upside down something with pears…we just loved it!


43 Holly November 5, 2012 at 1:26 pm

This looks great. I always send Harry & David baskets to my grandmothers around Christmastime and wish I lived closer to them to make this recipe. I’ll get started thinking about what to make to join you for Twelve Loaves this month!
Holly Most Recent Post: Pear-Ginger Jam


44 Creative Culinary November 5, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Don’t they just have beautiful gifts Holly? So glad you’re joining us…though you know we should be planning better so we could get together and nosh on both of our creations over a cup of coffee.


45 Lana @ Never Enough Thyme November 5, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Gorgeous bread! Just lovely. For me, pretty much anything that involves dough I call bread. Yeast or not. Biscuits, cornbread, crackers…whatever…and I love them all. But my favorites have always been quick breads. So fuss free and so tasty. Just can’t beat them.
Lana @ Never Enough Thyme Most Recent Post: Carrot-Pecan Quick Bread


46 Creative Culinary November 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm

See…a woman with a vision that makes this category thing vanish…I like including all sorts of things and I’m also with you on the quick breads. Wish I had the time but I don’t for the longer time required for yeast breads.


47 Barbara @ Barbara Bakes November 5, 2012 at 11:59 am

I love quick breads and yeast breads. Pumpkin chocolate chip quick bread is always a favorite around here. Your pear bread wouldn’t last long either.
Barbara @ Barbara Bakes Most Recent Post: Pumpkin Sour Cream Coffee Cake


48 Creative Culinary November 5, 2012 at 2:20 pm

I love them both too but I sure do make more quick breads. After making my own challah recently, I’m totally smitten with it.


49 Suzanne November 5, 2012 at 10:32 am

Looks wonderful Barb, think I will make it right now!
Suzanne Most Recent Post: No Words Necessary


50 Creative Culinary November 5, 2012 at 10:45 am

Thanks Suzanne…wish you could just come over; I’ll serve it to you. Coffee too?


51 Suzanne November 5, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Would love to, perfect with coffee and of course after that I would have to have one of your brilliant drinks.
Suzanne Most Recent Post: No Words Necessary


52 Jamie November 5, 2012 at 9:13 am

I was just thinking the same thing… bread – quick bread – coffee cake and want to make a yeasted coffee cake for Twelve Loaves – when I get my kitchen back! This cake looks just scrumptious and perfect for breakfast. And we need the comfort an fruitiness of this right now. I love it!
Jamie Most Recent Post: AN ODE TO MOVING


53 addie | culicurious November 5, 2012 at 9:06 am

This bread looks great :) YUMMM. I can’t wait to make my loaf this month for Twelve Loaves
addie | culicurious Most Recent Post: Twice-baked Sweet Potatoes Recipe


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