Tuesday, November 11

Pear and Cardamom Coffee Cake with Pecan Streusel

pear and cardamom cake with pecan streusel

It's the same every autumn. Pears sit quietly in the wings while apples take center stage.

It's no wonder. Think about it. Do kids crave candied pears every Halloween? Do moms pack pear sauce in their kids' lunch boxes? Can something be as "all-American as pear pie"?

Pears are good. Some pears, such as Seckel pears -- diminutive, super sweet fruits-- are surprisingly good. Overall though, they just don't get the respect of apples.

When it comes to baking, however, pears blossom into something special. In fact, I have made this cardamom coffee cake with pecan streusel twice -- once with apples and once with pears. You can tell which one I preferred.

Given their mild flavor, pears work beautifully with cardamom, a enticingly fragrant spice. Though a relative of ginger, cardamom has a unique flavor that is difficult to describe. It is intensely aromatic yet not overwhelming in flavor. It has notes of ginger, clove, and citrus, which is why it works so well when paired with fall fruits.

So, go ahead and give pears a little limelight.

So tell me, do you like pears?
What are your favorite ways
to cook and bake with pears?

Oh, and congratulations, Haley! You are the winner of Food to Live By.

Haley was chosen by using the random integer generator at Random.org.

pear and cardamom cake with pecan streusel

Pear and Cardamom Coffee Cake with Pecan Streusel

Print recipe only here.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup chopped pecans
4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup diced, peeled, firm but ripe pears, such as yellow bartlett or bosc
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk

Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter or coat with cooking spray an 8 inch square pan.

To make the streusel, in a small bowl combine flour, sugar, salt, cardamom and pecans and toss until well combined. Pour melted butter evenly over mixture, and using your fingers quickly toss and pinch the mixture until little pebbly pieces form. Refrigerate while making the cake.

Peel and dice pears and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flours, baking soda, salt, and cardamom.

In another large bowl, using an electric hand mixer cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla and beat at medium speed until light. Reduce speed to low and add the buttermilk. Beat until well blended. Add the dry ingredients; beat until just incorporated and the flour is dissolved. The batter will be thick and creamy. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the diced pears until well blended.

Pour the batter into the pan and gently shake it to even it out. Sprinkle the pecan streusel evenly over the top of the cake and press lightly with your hands.

Bake for 35 - 45 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a cake tester inserted deep into the center comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding onto the rack to cool at room temperature.

Unmold the cake, and place on a rack. Allow to set for at least 15 minutes before slicing.

You might also like:

Tuscan Torte di Mele (Apple Cake)

Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Cranberries, Raisins, and Pecans

Fresh Pineapple, Banana, and Pistachio Cake with Rum Icing

Helen's Plum-Raspberry Cardamom Crumbles at Tartelette
Shreya's Thri-Laddoo (a type of Indian festival food) from Mom's Cooking

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Heather said...

ohhh. that looks good! i do like pears quite a bit. i always make a pear cake with spiced whipped cream and candied pecans for my mom's birthday every year. this looks delicious, though! there's a stall at our farmer's market that sells pear cider... mmmm. so good! maybe one day, pears will get the treatment they deserve ;)

Bunny Trails said...

This looks divine! You are so right though, I am one of the ones always focused on the apples (esp. Honeycrisp) and I leave the lonely pears sitting on the market's shelf. You have inspired me to reach for the pear!

Rachel said...

that is just divine..

I love pears and I love it more when it is a pear tart with a wee bit of sherry added into it1

Toni said...

Now this makes me want to run out and buy some more pears! Actually, O love them when they're poached in wine. And served on top of ice cream. Yummmm!

ChichaJo said...

Pears are not really a fruit I grew up with (they don't really grow where I live) so I am actually a pear-newbie! They do sell them here now though (imported) so I do want to give them a whirl...the only way I've ever prepared them (so far!) has been poached and in jam...those were definitely yummy! Thanks for sharing another way to cook them!

Anonymous said...

I like pears better than apples but they are so messy to eat on the road when they are ripe. I rarely bake with them but I love eating them poached in red wine.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What a divine combo! I love the addition of cardamom in both the cake and streusel! Very scrumptious!



Manggy said...

There are certain types of pairs that I find too grainy-- but once cooked, they are all so lovely and buttery :) And perfect in baking too. I am loving the coffee cake! I'd say it's my favorite way to have pears ;)

Anonymous said...

Pear trees have been part of my life twice: my grandparents had a pear tree behind their little house in Brooklyn, and we used to climb it all the time when I was little; and then I moved to this house in Rhode Island and inherited a pair of pear trees. In the years when our trees yield a lot of fruit, I make pear cake, pear tarts, pear pies -- even pear soup. I love cooked pears, even more than cooked apples.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Susan, I love pears and wish I could use them more in my cooking and baking. I made pear madeleines on the weeekend but the flavor was too subtle. :(
Your cake looks fantastic!

Stacey Snacks said...

This cake is right up my alley.
I love any coffee cake and the addition of pears and that special spice cardamom makes this a winner.
Will definitely try this one!
Thanks for posting.

Kara said...

Printing this recipe right now for next week's in-law visit! Looks perfect for a breakfast treat! YUM!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I like pears, but I didn't used to. I think I was in college before I decided I liked them. They're wonderful with cheddar cheese or a handful of almonds as a snack.

I don't bake much with pears because my husband absolutely hates them. It's too bad because there are so many wonderful pear cakes and tarts out there.

This year I have been very disappointed with the pear crops around here. I haven't had many good pears, so I wouldn't be likely to bake with them. Maybe next year they will be better and I'll do some more bakign with them and just bypass Sir Pickypants and take the goods to my office.

Jeanne said...

You are so right - pears never get the kudos of apples, and I do have to say that for the longest time I much preferred apples. For me, it was a textural thing - I like the crispness of apples that most pears lack, but when you bake this becomes irrelevant. Love the sound of this cake as pear and cardamom is a winning combination. My favourite pear recipe is the pear & cardamom tarte tatin I made last year:

Michelle said...

Maybe someone has already mentioned this, but pears have less sugar and more fiber than apples, I believe? This recipe looks great! Just the name of it made me drool a little. Thanks!

We Are Not Martha said...

You're sooo right. Why don't pears get any credit?? I love them! And this coffee cake looks amazing. It's totally time for pears to take the stage :)


Anonymous said...

Pears are such a dependable kind of fruit ... if you get a really ripe one, just slurping it down on the back deck or over the sink is a joy ... more solid ones are perfect for baking. But even more than pears, I do love cardamom!

Terry at Blue Kitchen said...

I'm a much bigger fan of pears than apples, Susan. So I was delighted when my bride recently baked this delicious Frangipane Pear and Cherry Cake.

ames said...

I think the trouble with pears is their alarmingly short shelf life. They're only ripe enough for about 5 minutes before they're too ripe!

But after discovering a pear tree in my backyard, I made some vanilla and honey-scented pear butter that I'm just loving, more so than the apple butter in my fridge...

Haley said...

I saw this pair of pears yesterday, and probably a couple of times today! Just didn't read the contrasting, larger size text above the coffee cake. I was probably distracted by the crumbly goodness! I'm excited for the book!

Anonymous said...

How completely yummy...

Culinary Wannabe said...

I am obsessed with pear cider. It's pretty hard to find in my rinky dink grocery store, but whenever I do I totally load up.

Karen said...

I love pears when they're so juicy it just runs down your arm! Love cardomom, too; just wish is wasn't so expensive!

Anh said...

Pears are such nice fruit. Go so well in tarts, cake! I love your cake! Exactly the type that I fancy!

Goody said...

You really do make the loveliest looking cakes.

I soak 'em in booze. OK, actually I make a sugar syrup with brandy and can them, and then they soak in booze. Lots and lots of delicious booze.

I've had great success substituting pear sauce for applesauce in my Christmas cake (also incidentally, soaked in booze...oh dear, I'm going to get quite the reputation eh?).

If you do decide to try canning them in brandy, use the smaller seckel pears which can retain their shape and stems in the jar. They need about a month to really soak, so start them soon for Christmas.


Unknown said...

I do like pears. I have been using various types of pears, depending on what I'm going to make. I usually use Perre Bosch for poaching, although when I want to have a smaller versions of them, I use Corella pears. Lovely poaching them and drizzled with maple syrup or bittersweet chocolate sauce. For salad, I usually use nashi, it is the round pears with brown skin and it is very juicy and sweet. When it's still crisp, I like to throw them into the salad. Lovely!

Christine said...

Right now we're eating Asian pears everyday for as long as we can get them from a local grower. Around the holidays I like to make a pear upside down cake in a cast iron skillet - very homey and rustic.
Your recipe sounds delicious, I can almost smell it through your photo!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I really have been wanting some coffee cake. Love that topping.

Suzana said...

Susan, congrats for another amazing cake. Pears and cardamom seems like the perfect combination! I've been looking for pecans for ages, and now finally got them. LOVE the topping!

Helene said...

That is too funny! I just posted about pears in a cake!! My favorites are Forelles...small like seckel pears. I love poaching them with star anise, cloves, etc...and serving them hot with vanilla ice cream.

Love the cake!

Cris said...

Wow... cardamom added to the topping, will do that next time I bake a coffee cake! I love the smell of cardamom.

grace said...

i'm totally guilty of ignoring pears. if i had to pick a favorite way to use them, i suspect that your coffee cake here would be high up on the list. i simply can't ignore a streusel topping like that. :)

Anonymous said...

I love pears FAR more than I love apples, and Seckels are one of my favorites. I love them out of hand and in pear butter.

Anonymous said...

My husband is a huge pear fan and I keep telling him I'll make more foods with that in it. This sounds perfect for him!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

That looks like a scrumptious dessert. I absolutely love pears (and baking with them) and also did a pear/cardamom type of cake a while back...its such a fantastic flavor combo.

Anonymous said...

Love loved your coffee cake! I love pears a lot. I like to eat them just like that, raw or make upside down pear cakes. Yum!

Anonymous said...

I love pears with cherries...in crisps or pies or tarts...also poached in red wine and lots of spices.
I love this recipe because I am also a bit cardamom fan.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

heather-Ooh, pear cider? I'd love to try that. BTW- My b-day's in May, if you'd like to make me that cake. ;)

bunnytrails-Yay! I'm so happy to hear it.

rachel-Mmmm... that tart sounds lovely.

toni-They are so delicious poached.

joey-A pear-newbie. Have fun experimenting!:)

linda-That is so true. The juice always drips down your sleeve, doesn't it?

rosa-Thank you!

mark-They do get "buttery," don't they. Well said, my friend.

lydia-Why you're a pear aficionado! :)

patricia-That sounds so elegant though.

stacey-Hope you enjoy it!

kara-Oh, great! Have a wonderful time!

sdoc-Oh, I've paired apples and cheddar but not pears. I'll have to try that. Sir Pickypants. ;)

jeanne-I too prefer the crispness of apples, which is why I prefer baking and cooking with pears. Your tarte tatin sounds lovely too.

michelle- I'm glad you like it. Thanks for the info too.

wanm-Well said!

louise-You do slurp with pears, don't you? :)

terry-I would be delighted too.

ames-Seriously! Do you ship that butter? ;) It sounds fabulous!

haley-I'm happy you won it!


cwannabe-You're the second person to mention pear cider. I have never seen it. Sounds so good.

karen-I know.

anh-Glad to hear it!

goody-Soakin' in booze sounds good to me! I love the idea of adding sauce to cakes too. Thanks for that!

arfi-Those are varieties I'm not familiar with. I wish I was though. They are such a delicious addition to salads.

christine-Those are my dad's favorites. Ooh, and he would love a pear upside-down cake!

tanna-Maybe this one's for you?

suzana-That's awfully kind of you!

helen-I'll be checking it out!

cris-Isn't that aroma amazing?

grace-The streusel gets me every time.

kate-Seckel pears are my favorite as well.

mrsl-I hope you both enjoy ti!

mike-They are lovely together.

farida-I've got to try the upside-down cake.

mary-Pears and cherries? Now that's new (and exciting) to me!

Darius T. Williams said...

Great flavors...and I love pear. I bet this tasted awesome.

And you know your pics are lovely - they're the best!


Proud Italian Cook said...

I'm still getting use to cardamon, I have a new bottle that I used for a Daring Baker challenge and haven't used it since. You inspired me to try it with pears!

Anonymous said...

I like pears poached with syrup and a bit of spice. I love warm fall desserts.

Finla said...

How did i miss this delicious post. The cake looks so delicious. Bookmarking them.

Cakespy said...

Some of my favorite flavors deliciously united! I would love to give this one a try. I've got to keep it on file for my next brunch!

Lynne Daley said...

Your pear crisp looks divine. Pears are so photogenic and are my favorite fruit for still life shots. Here is a recipe that you might like. Roasted Forelle Pears

Sarah S. said...

I made your cake this weekend, and it was delicious! I used apples -- sorry, but in upstate NY that's what we're awash in. Also, the apples were Margils, which are a little 18th-century French variety of dessert apple that's often described as pear-like. So the spirit of the thing was intact.

I wouldn't have dared to put in that much cardamom on my own, but it was great -- thanks!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

darius-I so appreciate that. Thank you.

marie-Try it! Just use it in moderation, and it's lovely.

jude-So simple yet elegant.

happy cooki-Glad you found it then!

cakespy-It's a lovely brunch item.

lynnlu-I love forelle pears and just bought some today!

sarah-yay! Thank you so much for letting me know. I haven't tried Margils, but from your description, I know I'd love them. I kept experimenting with the cardamom until I found just the right amount, so I'm glad you liked it as well.

bee said...

this would be a great topping for apple cobbler too, methinks. i love the cake recipe too - with the buttermilk, etc i'd probably sneak in some liquerish thingy too.

Jaime said...

looks fabulous. i really need to try cardamom one of these days...

Min said...

I love pears and cardamom--I am definitely going to try this recipe--sounds amazing.

My husband's aunt gave me a pear pie recipe that is to die for...I really can't get enough of it! (and ate the 1st pie all by myself) recipe here: http://bad-girls-kitchen.blogspot.com/2008/01/pear-pie.html

And this year I experimented with pear butter that turned out quite well (I couldn't find a recipe, so I improvised)

Ooh! I also recently made a lovely Maple-Pear Upside Down Cake! So old-fashioned and delicious!

Please leave a comment if you try any of these recipes =)

Champa said...

This one is a must try for me. Funny thing is I prefer pear over apple any time.

Unknown said...

I made this last night and it was delicious! I may use more pears next time, because the one pear that I chopped up did come to 1 cup, but seemed kind of scant once I mixed it into the batter.

I sometimes make a very simple pear cake using ginger as the main spice.