Friday, October 16, 2009

Walnut Pear Sour Cream Coffee Cake

The house where I grew up had an enormous back yard, and at the very edge of the property was a pear tree that produced a lot of fruit, year after year. Every year, as soon as fall arrived, my brother and I were out there collecting the harvest. They were the best pears I've ever tasted, impossibly sweet and juicy. We always had more fruit than we knew what to do with, but my mom always loved trying to come up with new ways to use them. She canned them, dried them, paired them with pork chops and chicken, and baked with them a lot. So while other kids were celebrating the arrival of fall with pumpkins and apples, my brother and I were celebrating it with pears. To this day, I have to say that pears are my favorite autumn fruit.

My love of pears is what initially drew me to this cake. And it actually ended up reminding me a lot of the pear streusel muffins my mom used to make when I was a kid. Needless to say, I absolutely loved it. It came out a little dry, but I think that's only because I cooked it a little longer than I should have (the recipe calls for a 9-inch springform pan, but mine is 10 inches). I think streusel is one of the world's most perfect culinary creations, and it worked so well with the sweet, soft pears in this recipe. I'm filing this one away to make every single autumn.

Walnut Pear Sour Cream Coffee Cake
source: Better Homes and Gardens

1 cup broken walnuts
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 medium pears, peeled, cored, and sliced (about 2 cups)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 8-ounce carton dairy sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan or 9 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Combine the 1 cup nuts, brown sugar, and cinnamon. For topping, cut the 1/4 cup butter into 1/3 cup flour to make coarse crumbs. Stir in 3/4 cup of the nut mixture. Set nut mixture and topping aside.

2. Toss pears with lemon juice; set aside. In a medium bowl combine the 1 3/4 cups flour, baking powder, soda, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl beat 1/2 cup butter with electric mixer 30 seconds. Beat in granulated sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add flour mixture and sour cream alternately to batter. Beat on low speed after each addition until combined.

3. Spread two-thirds batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with reserved nut mixture. Layer pears over top. Gently spread remaining batter over pears. Sprinkle with reserved topping. Bake 10 minutes. For a chunky top, sprinkle with 1/2 cup more nuts. Bake 45 to 50 minutes more or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes. Remove sides of springform pan, if using. Cool at least 1 hour. Serve warm with whipped cream, if desired.


Belle said...

This cake looks delicious! I've been eyeing the baskets of pears at the store lately, but we've only ever tried one pear dessert (poached pears). This looks like a great way to use the pears (the pear streusel muffins sound pretty good, too!)

Debbie said...

Thanks for posting such a great recipe. I've been on the lookout for a good cake recipe that uses pears and this is it....