Now that fall is upon us in full force, my last yearnings for the crisp and cool flavors of summer have dwindled, and I’m getting into the spirit of all the wonderful, comforting, seasonal ingredients this time of year has to offer.
Earthy root vegetables, hearty squash, and juicy pome fruits—the family of fruits with a core of small seeds surrounded by a tough membrane (think apples, pears, etc.)—have taken the place of my daily salad fix. These ingredients also inspire me to embrace the more soothing tastes and textures of autumnal produce and spices for the next few months.
My much-loved ingredient hitting the markets right now are pears. Fragrant with a deep, intense flavor and bursting with juiciness, a perfectly ripe pear hits high on my list of favorite fruits overall. And while I enjoy all varietals, each kind providing its own distinct characteristics, my absolute favorite is the brown-russet Beurre Bosc (more commonly known as Bosc). Not too flashy in appearance, with a matte, rusty brown skin, this unassuming pear reveals the sweetest, most succulent flesh behind its dull mask and bursts with flavor and juiciness with that first bite.
Beurre Bosc pears are one of the oldest varieties available today, first cultivated in Belgium around 1807. Unlike apples, which nowadays are mostly twentieth century newcomer clones, almost all pears we find these days are true heirloom varieties. This accounts for their rich, luscious taste, which is unparalleled by more recently cultivated produce.
The pears in this delicately spiced, lightly sweetened, fairly simple coffee cake genuinely shine through. Hints of cardamom and cinnamon add a distinct and exotic element reminiscent of spicy chai tea, complementing the pears perfectly. Serve for breakfast or afternoon tea for a slightly sweet treat, or add ice cream, whipped cream, or clotted cream for a decadent dessert. If you’re feeling extra indulgent, some chocolate sauce would be outstanding!
If you can’t find Bosc pears or have another favorite pear on hand, feel free to use it in addition to or instead of the Bosc. Adding or substituting apples would be a great option as well. Just be sure that your apples are slightly more firm than you’d normally eat them. Their structure will hold more integrity, and they’ll stay in nice big chunks inside the cake as it bakes.
Sour Cream-Einkorn Coffee Cake with Pears, Walnuts, and Cardamom
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: approximately 1 hour
Makes 1 (9-inch) cake
For the streusel topping:
6 tablespoons cold butter, grated or diced
3 tablespoons coconut sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
⅔cups walnuts, roughly chopped
½ cup whole grain einkorn flour
For the cake:
¾ cup soft butter, plus more for pan
1 cup coconut sugar
3 large eggs
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1½ cups sour cream
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
3 cups whole grain einkorn flour
3 pears (choose from Bosc, Anjou, Bartlet, Comice, etc.), peeled (if desired) and diced
For serving: crème fraîche, sour cream, whipped cream, or ice cream, if desired
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush a 9-inch springform pan with melted butter. Line bottom and sides with parchment paper.
- To prepare streusel topping, rub all ingredients together with your fingertips until the butter forms pea-sized lumps. Set aside.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and extracts, mixing thoroughly until combined. Mix in sour cream and all dry ingredients until combined. Gently fold pears into batter.
- Spread batter into prepared pan. Scatter with streusel topping. Bake until cake springs back easily and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center, about 50–60 minutes (or longer if necessary).
- Let cake cool in pan for about 20 minutes, then remove to cool completely. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of crème fraîche, sour cream, whipped cream, or ice cream, if desired.
Image by Briana Goodall.