Coffee’s Optional, You Know

Thank goodness Pear & Apple Coffee Cake is only a title, as associating today’s entry with coffee besmirches a fine dessert.  Truth is, this would be just right with a glass of milk, and is wonderful by itself too.  “Coffee Cake” merely is the name given to a whole range of crumbly sweets, no particular beverage required.  No sir.

After all, the cake is loaded, nearly to saturation, with nice pieces of apples and pears, Granny Smith and Bosc respectively, that make this moist dessert even more succulent.  While this would be an ideal post-dinner evening treat, for many it really shines (as it were) in the morning, a charming way to rouse the taste buds.  Even among those who insist on consuming it with a drink this journal doesn’t deign to mention.

Either way, dessert or breakfast, the recipe is good enough to inspire an article in the September/October 2018 AllRecipes magazine.  Best of all, the idea, at least this particular incarnation of it, comes from a reader in suburban Chicago, a happy slice of Earth the author once called “home.”  Really, Pear & Apple Cake, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off…how does one area get so lucky?

Anyway, the cake is sublime, giving tasters something they haven’t enjoyed in, it seems like forever – sweet, juicy fruit.  Let’s not forget the topping, though.  A crumbly combination of cinnamon, brown sugar and walnuts adds warm spice and a little bit of crunch to the sweet, tender cake below.  It’s like a cinnamon roll loaded with walnuts, pears and apples.

It’s a scrumptious mixture, good for a sweet uplift at any time of day.  If enjoyed in the morning, please,  don’t take the “coffee” part literally.  It’s merely a suggestion, and not a very good one at that.  Still, if there’s one thing that would make coffee drinkable, perhaps even tolerable, it’s Apple & Pear Cake.


Pear & Apple Coffee Cake

  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, unsalted butter softened and divided
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Disaronno, optional (*1)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and finely chopped (*2)
  • 1 medium pear, peeled and finely chopped (*2)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Spray a 13-inch x 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the granulated sugar and 1/2 cup of the butter until light and fluffy, about two minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add half the flour mixture to the creamed butter, mixing at low speed until incorporated.  Add half the sour cream, again, mixing it in at low speed.  Repeat with the last half of the flour mixture and the rest of the sour cream.

Detach the paddle from the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, scrape any excess batter back into the mixing bowl.  Remove the mixing bowl and, with the same rubber spatula, fold in the apples and the pears.  Scrape batter into the baking pan you prepared, using the spatula to smooth to an even thickness.

Next, make the topping.  In a small bowl, use a fork (*3) to combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.  Stir in the walnuts.  Sprinkle this evenly over the batter.  Cook for 35 minutes, then cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.


1 – Optional, but it does add a nice hint of almonds, and it keeps everything moist.

2 – As mentioned in the text above, coupling a sweet variety of pear (Bosc) with a tart apple (Granny Smith) is a nice combination.  Moreover, a coarse chop, just short of a cubing, preserves more of the fruits’ identity.

3 – The recipe suggests using a fork, but really, your fingers are the best tool for the job.




34 thoughts on “Coffee’s Optional, You Know

    1. Much appreciated, as always, Crystal!

      As you anticipate, two slices are the least we can do. Else, we insult the pears.

      Therefore, both beverages will have their moment. My own choice is clear, but I cast no aspersions on the misguided Followers of the Bean who seek to destroy their palates. You’re the ones with the problem, not I.

      Besides, this cake’s good enough maybe, just maybe, to make even coffee drinkable. Magic Recipe Box, you’ve done it yet again!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, Angela, doesn’t this prove, though, that men have motivations beyond just impressing women?

      Sure, that explains, like, 97.6% of what we do, but within the remaining 2.4% all sorts of aspirations swirl. Among them, the quest for good food.

      Of course, that part inspires women too. Thus sated, both sexes can get down to the business at hand, which, for men, is impressing women.


      1. Numbers all scientifically verified, of course. …or at least they’re based on my own observations.

        It isn’t just our species, either. This is the way the sexes interact in all cases. We follow the script, as do leopards. Likewise, squirrel monkeys Brook trout too, insofar as they have personalities.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Can I ask you a genuine question? Why aren’t you teaching some university? although thinking about it now, you actually are a teacher of your art. I just could listen to you talk all day.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh my, Angela, thank you!

        The topic fascinates, and it inspires all sorts of great conversations. You supply that in abundance, and how could I not respond with enthusiasm?

        Plus, planning future expeditions makes thing all the more effervescent.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Thanks, Angela!

        Specific knowledge of what’s ahead is simultaneously an advantage and a disadvantage. The good part is the enthusiasm, anticipation and dreams the future generates. The bad part is having to wait months, and in many cases, years, to show it to you. Oh, the things that are planned!

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Why thank you, Tamara!

      I’ll send you a first-class ticket, because who knows? Cake such as this could be served with the meal. Maybe more of a possibility back in air travel’s glorious past, but we always aspire, don’t we?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jenn!

      It was tasty, for sure. Will be, too, as most of the leftovers were wrapped and frozen, in contrast to former times, when they would’ve gone to office coworkers, or to relatives I’d visit.

      Anyway, this combination of fruit is a good one, as the pears’ sweetness and the apples’ tartness compliment each other beautifully. Plus, some of those luscious juices escape confines and lace the surrounding cake. Nice!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Wicked to show that photo of a delicious walnut stepping into the role of alluring temptress! Not to mention, quietly sneaking in the Disaronno By the way, I might consider doubling that 1 tablespoon, at the very least… just saying.

    You’ve also solved the problem of having to decide between a scumptuous sweet dessert made with apples or pears. Just use both, duh… seems so obvious!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For too long, we believed it to be an Either/Or situation. You were on Team Apple or on Team Pear. Each had its advantages, but for the Love of God, keep them apart! Then along came this desert, and it broke all the rules.

      Well, I never!

      Actually, you should.

      As for your advice concerning Disaronno, taken up with enthusiasm! It’s one of the few times my taste in booze ventures beyond beer and wine, and I’ll use that exception to advantage. Thanks, JoAnn!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is great! Two excellent fruits, some cinnamon, some sugar… Mmm. I wish I read this much, much earlier (sorry!).

    Question about the Disaronno: it’s optional, but is it replaceable? A touch of almond extract or some such?


    1. Oh, absolutely, Rachel. Pick up a little jar of McCormick Almond Extract in the spice aisle, then go to town!

      Of course, I would point out that extract also has a high alcohol content. The only difference between it and the liqueur is that you’d use a much smaller quantity of the former.

      If you want to forego the booze altogether, try a couple tablespoons of almond paste (you’d find it in the baking aisle, usually next to the various sugars).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ahh. I suppose the alcohol would cook off either way though, huh? Still, there is one other difference I’ll point out: I have some almond extract on hand. Though the paste might be something to look for.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. If you do decide to give he paste a try, you’ll be glad you did, Rachel. After all, it’s one of he main things that goes into marzipan.

        In fact, I’ll be using the paste in an upcoming recipe for Catalan (i.e., Spanish, more or less) Almond Cookies, so you’ll see it “in action” before too much longer.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yep! Provided I keep the audience’s interest, we’re on through April 2025.

        …and counting.

        Plus, with all (that is, with no) due modesty, the best is yet to come, both in terms of ideas, and of props used to enhance them. Or so I plan.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Uh huh. As you will see, also dinnerware, linens and, above all, placemats/tablecloths, Props too. Yes, props! Just you wait, my friend. Quite the production, this will be.

        Hand on heart, I’m excited!

        Liked by 1 person

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