Pear and Pecan Cake with Pecan Streusel
Updated: Feb 12, 2019
Every time I bake this cake I wonder why we don’t bake it more often. It’s actually one of my favourite coffee cakes - you know the cake with no coffee in it but the one that pairs up very well with coffee or tea.
So, what flavours exactly are you getting here?
Mellow but in the same time sweet, citrusy-like pears wrapped in buttery pecan cake batter. All topped up with crunchy pecan streusel. This cake ticks all the boxes of good coffee cake (or tea cake for that matter) - quick and easy, comforting bake, full of flavour with a good balance of soft, mellow and crunchy textures.
This cake is slightly different to most of our quick bakes. There is no yogurt, no kefir, no sour cream or milk in it. You will be preparing this cake in similar way rich shortbread or rich sweet crust is being prepared. First, flour is mixed with ground nuts, then butter is worked into the nutty flour until crumbly texture is formed. I used to prepare this cake in food processor (working with few pulses in-between additions). This is perfectly OK and will work. It’s very subjective but nowadays I find that old-fashion mixing by wooden spoon or spatula works even better for this cake. Few gentle stirs will give you good result and you will be able to control the batter texture better (pea-sized butter pieces at the end are a good sign!).
You will then add sugar and eggs to your crumbly buttery texture and few gentle stirs will form the thick cake batter required here. For a good bake here stick to the recipe and add caster sugar (don’t substitute) - this will contribute to the lighter texture.
Pears need to be gently folded into the cake batter. As a last step you will pour the batter into cake tin, sprinkle with coarsely chopped pecan nuts, you will press in few pear slices and cover it all up with pecan streusel. For a good bake here don’t go overboard with loading cake centre with streusel. If you have some streusel remaining it’s better to spread it on cake edges or leave it out.
Read few hints below on pear types you could use for this recipe.
Pear and Pecan Cake with Pecan Streusel
Yield: 12 servings
Active time: 20 minutes prep + 70 minutes baking
Tin: 18cm or 20cm spring form or round form with removable bottom
For Cake Batter:
- 3 medium pears (not too ripe, the harder the better - read hints)
- 1 Tablespoon potato or corn starch
- 100g pecan nuts, split (70g ground, 30g coarsely chopped)
- 1 cup* (150g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/3 teaspoon baking soda
- 175g unsalted butter, straight from the fridge and diced
- 2/3 cup (140g) caster sugar
- 2 large eggs, straight from the fridge
For Pecan Streusel:
- 70g pecan nuts, coarsely chopped
- 50g unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup (75g) all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup (70g) light brown sugar
*cup= 250ml cup
1. Preheat oven to 160C. Line baking tin with parchment paper and lightly grease sides of the tin and apply some flour.
2. Prepare pears, pecan nuts and streusel: Peel, core and coarsely chop 2 pears (will go into the cake batter). Toss coarsely chopped pears in 1 Tablespoon corn or potato starch. Peel, core and slice into thin slices remaining 1 pear (will go on top of the cake). Grind in food processor or grinder 70g of pecan nuts. Coarsely chop 100g pecan nuts (30g will go on top of the cake, 70g will go into Streusel topping). For the streusel: melt butter then mix all ingredients until crumbly texture is formed.
3. Prepare cake batter: Sift flour with baking powder and baking soda. Add ground pecan nuts and mix by spatula or wooden spoon until combined (if you use food processor - few pulses only). Add diced, cold butter and form crumbly texture - use pastry cutter or food processor (few pulses only). If you don’t have one or the other work with hands - incorporate the butter into flour until crumbly texture is achieved (you can use same move you make when your hands are cold, and then with finger tips incorporate butter into the flour). Add sugar and eggs to the crumbly cake batter and mix gently only until incorporated - few gentle stirs using wooden spoon or spatula or few pulses only using food processor. It’s OK if you still see pea-sized chunks of butter (good sign!). Gently fold in 2 coarsely chopped pears. The batter with be thick. Transfer the mixture to the baking tin. Sprinkle with 30g coarsely chopped pecan nuts and press in 1 sliced pear. Sprinkle with Pecan Streusel (don’t go heavy in the middle of the cake - if you have any residue sprinkle sides of the cake).
4. Bake at 160C for 70 minutes. If you opt to skip Streusel then bake for 55-60 minutes. Check with chopstick if fully baked through. Once baked leave in the baking tin for 30 minutes, then run thin knife to loosen edges and leave to cool for another 30 minutes. Eat warm or cold with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.
1. Pears - for this bake choose hard or semi-hard pears. Bosc type would be best. If you are using Bartlett or Concorde make sure you get semi-hard fruit.
2. Nuts - don’t substitute pecan nuts with walnuts. In this cake walnuts will bring bitter taste and overtake pear flavour. Pecans are sweeter and complement pears better. If you want to substitute or you can’t get pecan nuts replace pecans by hazelnuts.
- make sure to use starch for the fruit
- don’t over mix the cake batter - few pulses using food processor or few gentle stirs using spatula or wooden spoon
- this cake does not like sneaky peeking halfway through the baking. Hence, start checking the texture after 55 minutes (if baking without streusel) or after 65 minutes (if baking with streusel).
4. You can easily convert this cake into Sheet Cake (22cmx32cm form) - bake from 1.5 portions (but stick to 2 medium pears going into the batter), bake for 70-75 minutes.