Pear Gingerbread Crumb Cake ~ a lightly spiced shortbread based coffee cake that celebrates the flavors of the season.
I know it’s still pretty hot out there, but there’s a certain slant to the light these mornings, and I’m celebrating that hint of change with the combination of pear and gingerbread. I love them together. The sweet juicy pear tempers the warm spicy gingerbread flavors and the whole thing just screams coziness. This one can be breakfast or dessert, and it satisfies my craving for something fall-ish in that crazy in-between season where we want fresh tomatoes one minute and pumpkin pancakes the next, although for me it’s mostly about the pumpkin pancakes.
Pears can be stunningly beautiful, even straight from the supermarket bin, and if you choose carefully you can have a work of art on your counter for a few days before making this cake. I know there are probably big differences between the varieties but I’m not fussy, I use whatever looks good. Today it’s these bosc pears. Just try not to let them get too mushy ripe before you use them, they’ll bake up better if they are still a little firm.
This recipe was really just an excuse to use my new Muscavado sugar. It’s a rich, moist, minimally processed brown sugar and it smells almost fruity, like raisins. It’s perfect for gingerbread, and also goes well with chocolate and coffee flavors. You can substitute dark brown sugar for a similar effect. I found mine at whole foods, but you can also buy it online.
Pecans in the topping add some crunch and the nutmeg glaze is there, well, just because the cake looked kinda naked without it. You could sub out cinnamon or cardamon, or really any of the spices for the nutmeg.
How do you satisfy your early fall cravings?
- 4 ripe but still firm pears, any variety, peeled and rough chopped
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 sticks (1/2 lb) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2/3 cup dark brown sugar (I used Muscavado sugar)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cardamom
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans (measure after chopping)
- 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- enough milk or cream to thin
- Set the oven to 350F
- Toss the pear chunks with the cinnamon and lemon juice and set aside.
- Cream the butter with the sugar until fluffy. Take a moment to make sure the brown sugar has been well combined and there are no large lumps. Add the salt and the spices and mix well.
- Add in the flour and mix until just combined, the dough will be crumbly.
- Spray the bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan. Press 2/3 of the dough mixture into the bottom of the pan. Be sure to cover the entire surface, but don't pack it down too forcefully.
- Spread the pears out evenly over the dough.
- Mix the remaining dough with the pecans and crumble it evenly over the pears. Break apart the dough with your fingertips to make nice even crumbles. Don't worry if some of the pear shows through.
- Bake for about 45 minutes until lightly browned.
- Cool for a few minutes before releasing the springform pan, and then let the cake cool further before glazing.
- Make the glaze by mixing the sugar, nutmeg and enough milk or cream to thin it to a glaze consistency. Drizzle over the cooled cake. Alternatively, you can serve the glaze in a little bowl and let everyone glaze their own piece of cake.