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 Upside Down Pear Crunch Coffee Cake 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
An upside down pear coffee cake with a brown sugar and cinnamon topping.
For the Crunch
- 1 1/2 C. demerara sugar or brown sugar
- 1 t. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 t. ground nutmeg
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1 TB. flour
- 2 TB. butter
For the Coffee Cake
- 2. large Pears, cored and sliced into 1/2 " slices with skin on
- 4 oz. unsalted butter
- 1 C. sugar
- 2 ea. large eggs
- 1 C. sour cream
- 1/4 C. milk
- 1 t. vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 C. flour
- 1 1/2 t. baking powder
- 1/2 t. baking soda
- 1 t. salt
To Make the Topping:
- Work all ingredients together with a food processor, spatula or your fingers and set aside.
To Make the Coffee Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees convection. (Without a convection oven, baking will take longer).
- Cream the butter and sugar together with a spatula or in a mixer with paddle attachment.
- Add the eggs and combine to mix thoroughly.
- Add the sour cream, milk and vanilla extract and mix into butter and egg mixture thoroughly.
- Add dry ingredients just to combine.
- Spray the inside of two loaf pans with vegetable oil or rub lightly with butter.
- 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.
- 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.