Tomorrow is the first official day of fall, my absolute favorite time of year.
The colors are mind-blowing; the air is pleasant, with just the right amount of freshness so I can slip on jeans and a light sweater (insert a big autumn sigh here.)
Cooler temps mean the oven will be turned on in abandon to create luscious baked wonders usually found in favorite coffee house haunts. I admit to being more of a savory sort of girl, but the thought of warm, buttery, spice-filled coffeecake gets me every time.
The brilliant beauty of my coffee-sipping dreams is not some run-of-the-mill kind with a few wimpy sprinkles of cinnamon and sugar on top. Nope, the craving involved the exquisite, just right blend of fruit and ginger-vanilla cake piled with big, fat crumbs of goodness.
Like countless recipes, this is a change-up of an adaptation. The first time I whipped this up was in the spring with rhubarb, then there was the later-in-the-year blackberry breakfast cake. But now, glorious pears that grow in orchards scattered across the Northwest get the staring role.
Ginger-Vanilla Pear Breakfast Cake with Big Crumbs (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from the New York Times, 6/6/07)
You will need
- 2 ripe, but firm pears, cut in ¾” chunks
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter, melted
- 1 ¾ cups flour
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter softened
What to do
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch round cheesecake pan (the round makes a pretty presentation) or square baking pan.
- To make crumbs: in a large bowl, whisk sugars, spices and salt into melted butter until smooth. Then, add flour with a spatula or wooden spoon. It will look and feel like a solid dough. Leave it pressed together in the bowl and set aside.
- To prepare cake: in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, eggs and vanilla. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Cut butter into the flour mixture until it resembles crumbles of peas. Stir in a spoonful of sour cream mixture and until flour is moistened. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating well after each addition, until well incorporated. Scoop out about a ½ cup batter and set aside.
- Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon pears over batter; drop dollops of set-aside batter over pears.
- Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about ½ inch to ¾ inch in size. Pile crumbs over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool slightly and serve.
Don’t be afraid of all of the butter, a whopping one cup! Small slices will be very satisfying, and hey, it’s not like we eat this way every day. For us, this baking occurs on the weekend. I’ve also discovered this very moist pear-laden cake is even more delicious and deep in flavor and texture if stuck in the fridge overnight.
Coffee and cake, yes please –