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07/07/2014

~ Simply Splendid Lemony Pear Almond Coffeecake~

IMG_7313Happiness comes in many forms.  This delicate, moist, almost-creamy cake is one of them.  One would think a dessert as delicious as this would be challenging to make, but it is not.  To think the recipe came to me in the form of junkmail is absurd.  Back in the days before the internet, an occasional "free" packet of recipe cards would arrive in my mailbox from some sort of "cooking club".  Their goal was to sell me a subscription to a monthy delivery of recipe cards guaranteed to make family mealtimes more exciting.  I never signed on to any of these promotions, but, I always opened the packet to see what they were peddling.  Occasionally, there was a card or two I hung onto.  This lemon-pear cake recipe is one example.  It was named "Tea-Time Lemon-Pear Cake".  I kept the card because I love pears, didn't have many recipes for pears, and, it implied it was a stylish, refined, English dessert suitable for breakfast or brunch too -- and it is!

IMG_7365I did tweek the recipe a bit to suit my taste (the original recipe did not include the lemon zest, almond extract or almonds, and, it used granulated sugar).  When pears are in season (the Fall) this is one of my go-to recipes, and it's worth noting that I only make it with perfectly ripe (not overripe or underripe) Bosc or d'Anjou pears -- Bartletts are simply too watery for cake baking. About a week ago I was given a box of beautiful Bosc pears, so, it's going to be a Summertime treat today.  I always assumed the recipe, as per its title, was English/British, but, on one occasion an elderly Italian woman told me I make a lovely 'Torta di Pere', and, over the years, I've encountered a few 'Gateau Fondant aux Poires' in some classy French restaurants too. Here in my kitchen, this universally loved pear cake is a simply splended American coffee cake!

IMG_7154This cake goes together very quickly, so,  get organized and prep all of your ingredients as directed before plugging in your mixer.  You will need a 9"-9 1/2" springform pan.  Size does matter.  It can and will affect baking time and the end product.  Do not substitute.

~ Step 1.  Spray the inside of the pan with no-stick cooking spray. Cut out a round of parchment paper to fit the bottom, place it in the bottom (not up the sides) and spray the top of the parchment.  Set aside.

IMG_7132

4-5  ripe Bosc pears, peeled, cored and chopped into bite-sized pieces, about 3 1/2-4 cups peeled and chopped pears (Note:  Do not peel, core and chop the pears until directed to do so in recipe Step 8.)

10  tablespoons salted butter, melted and cooled

3/4  teaspoon pure almond extract, not imitation

1/2  teapoon pure vanilla extract, not imitation

1/4  cup fresh lemon juice and zest (juice from 2 lemons and zest from 1 lemon)

4  large eggs, at room temperature

2  large egg yolks, at room temperature

1  cup confectioners' sugar

1 1/2  cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1  teaspoon baking powder

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

1/2  cup sliced almonds, very-lightly toasted, for topping cake

additional confectioners' sugar, for garnishing cake or cake slices

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing baking pan

IMG_7106 IMG_7115 IMG_7110 IMG_7125~Steps 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7.  In a 1-cup measuring container, melt the butter and stir in the extracts. Set aside to cool.  Using a microplane grater and a citrus juicer, zest and juice the lemons.  Stir zest and juice together and set aside.  Crack 4 eggs into a small bowl, separate the yolks from 2 eggs and set aside to come to room temperature.  Measure confectioners' sugar and set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.  In a small baking pan, very-lightly toast the almonds in a 350 degree oven for 5-6 minutes and set aside to cool.

IMG_6668 IMG_6725~ Step 8. Using a sharp paring knife and a melon baller, peel and core the pears as directed.  For detailed instructions, click on the Related Article link, ~ How to: Choose, Store, Peel, Halve and Core Pears ~, below.

~ Step 9.  Chop pears into bite-sized pieces.  Error on the side of too large rather than too small.  For best results, be sure you have 3 IMG_71421/2-4 cups of chopped pears for this recipe, meaning:  measure them.

IMG_7149~ Step 10. Place the pears in a medium bowl and pour the lemon juice/zest mixture over the top.  Using a large rubber spatula, stir to thoroughly combine.

Prepare the cake batter according to the following directions:

IMG_7170 IMG_7158~ Step 11. Place the eggs, egg yolks and sugar in a IMG_7162large bowl. Over high speed of mixer, whip, scraping down sides of bowl w/spatula until an airy custard forms, about 6 minutes.

IMG_7186 IMG_7176~ Step 12. Reduce mixer speed to low and blend in about 1/2 of the flour mixture.  With the mixer running on low speed, IMG_7178drizzle in the butter, then the second half of the flour mixture. Using spatula, fold in pears and all of the lemon juice/zest mixture.

IMG_7209 IMG_7207~ Step 13. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Give the pan a few back and forth shakes on the countertop to distribute the batter evenly. Sprinkle the almonds over the top.

~ Step 14.  Bake on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven 38-40+ minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Do not over bake!

IMG_7239Remove from oven, place on a cooling rack and allow to cool in pan for about 10 minutes prior to removing sides of from pan.  

IMG_7267Continue to cool prior to serving warm or at room temperature, about 45-60+ minutes.

Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar just prior to slicing and serving, or, sprinkle confectioners' sugar on individual slices and serve.

IMG_7263I sprinkle the sugar on each individual slice...

IMG_7320... before savoring every simply splendid bite:

IMG_7345Simply Splendid Lemony Pear Almond Coffeecake:  Recipe yields 12-16 servings.

Special Equipment List:  9"-9 1/2" springform pan; parchment paper; 2, 1-cup measuring containers; microplane grater; hand-held citrus juicer; small baking pan; cutting board; paring knife; melon baller; large rubber spatula; hand-held electric mixer; cake tester or toothpick; cooling rack 

6a0120a8551282970b0168eb0bc39c970cCook's Note: If it is a few chocolate loving friends your inviting, ~ "Come on over for some coffee and cake."  Coffeecake: Cinnamon-Orange, Chocolate-Chip Pecan Streusel ~ can be found in Categories 6 or 9!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)

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