On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place

A not so perfect Pear Coffee Cake


I hope this doesn’t come as a surprise. Not everything I set my mind to in the kitchen turns out well.

I don’t have many disasters, I think there’s only 1 thing that I had to throw out. My first yeast rolled scrolls if I recall correctly.

There are things I’ve baked that are OK, but not something I want to spend any more time over editing photos and writing about.

This Pear Coffee Cake isn’t perfect, but the flavour is so nice that I still want to share my experience making/baking it.

Baked Pear Coffee Cake

It looks fine. It smelt good. But looks can be deceiving. And all was not perfect once I cut into the cake. Actually I had a hint the cake wasn’t baking quite as you’d expect.

The recipe says 40-50 minutes of baking. Usually I’m on the shorter time for baking. My oven runs a little hot. So if I don’t adjust the temperature I know the baking time is shorter.

I started testing the cake at 38 minutes. I was confident it would be cooked. But the toothpick came out with “moist crumbs”. I finally took it out at 50 minutes having gone through a number of toothpicks.

Without stating the obvious, to make Pear anything, you need pears. I bought these the week before, expecting to make pear and almond muffins. But things got away on me and I made Mixed Berry Muffins instead.

Having the pears sit around for a week longer than intended, I was quite keen to use them. Mr Fussy doesn’t like pears but had I used these in muffins that wouldn’t have been a consideration. The mere discussion about what I was using made Mr Fussy pull a face and mutter words about not having any.


I found quite a lot of recipes. I wanted to use the left over yoghurt I had. And generally buttermilk, sour cream and yoghurt can be used interchangeably. Perhaps not.

Ok, here’s a picture of the inside of the cake, if I get that out the way then we can move on.

Texture of Pear Coffee Cake

As I say, this tasted really lovely, but that texture. It was like rubber. It wasn’t hard rubber, but it had way more bounce than you ever want in a cake.

I’ve looked at the recipe and tried to understand why it didn’t come out right. Did I overmix the batter? I don’t think so. I was really careful not to. Was it replacing sour cream with yoghurt? It shouldn’t have been. They’re meant to be interchangeable.

Were the pears over ripe?

Pear slices

I don’t think so. They weren’t mushy. I didn’t need all of the pear slices to cover the cake batter so I ate most of the left over pear. It wasn’t over ripe at all.

Slice of Pear Coffee Cake

At the time I was getting all the ingredients together on the bench I thought I’d overlooked the butter since there wasn’t any out. But I re-read the recipe and there was no butter. So all the liquid was from the eggs and yoghurt. Maybe it was more crucial in that case to use the sour cream. I made only one other change, to add 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg.

Preparing a Pear Coffee Cake

Here’s the link for the original recipe, Sour Cream Pear Coffee Cake.

I haven’t thrown the cake away. It really does taste nice, and the cake isn’t awful, just an odd texture. It’s not quite like munching into a piece of foam (have you had the Lamington practical joke played on you?) but it’s just not what you expect from a coffee cake.

The left over cake – 3/4 of it – is sliced up and put into the freezer. I’ve let my MIL know where it is so she can snack on it during the week if she likes. Mr Fussy wont have any of course. And I’ve still got enough Mixed Berry Muffins to see me through the week.

I really wish this cake had baked up better.

Oh, one other thing to share, does it annoy you having stickers on fruit? By the time I came to use the pears, the sticker actually pulled the skin from the pears.

Nope, I’ve got another thing to say. When I look at recipes I really want a photo of what the baked item is like on the inside. It helps me understand the texture and what I should see in my own version. This recipe didn’t have a photo but I still went with it. I went with it based on the 5 star rating it was given. I’m going with my own form of “fussy” and reject any recipe as a candidate unless I can be sure of what the item is like on the inside.

Right, I think I’ve got everything off my chest now.


4 thoughts on “A not so perfect Pear Coffee Cake

  1. I am wondering why the cake had both baking powder and baking soda in it – maybe this has something to do with the texture. there is an article in Bite today with comments on the use of baking soda – maybe you can read it.

    • Hi Alison, I don’t know what Bite is. I did a bit of a search assuming it was an online magazine or similar but nothing came up, except allergies and the use of baking soda. I’d be interested in reading the item if you can find the link and have time to post it for me. Cheers.

      • Hi Anita

        Sorry I wasn’t clear – Bite is a foody supplement that comes out in theNZ Herald every Monday. I always assume there are copies lying around most workplaces. Anyway…the article was by Peter Gordon and primarily on Buttermilk but it also went into why Baking Soda needs an acid to start reacting which forms carbon dioxide gas. That is why goods with baking soda in them need to be put into the oven smartly after mixing. He says that he uses Buttermilk in any baked goods that have Baking Soda in them – scones, muffins, soda bread.

        Don’t know if this is helpful as regards your problem.


      • Thank Alison. In Christchurch we have a Wednesday pull-out called Zest. I knew that baking soda needed an acid for it to react, and it’s 3 times as powerful as baking powder. Any acid would work, like the buttermilk, yoghurt, sour cream and vinegar (the ones that spring to mind). I still couldn’t see how this could cause my problem since the yoghurt would do its thing with the baking soda. Well I’ll just chalk it up to experience and move on. It seems others that rated the recipe gave it a big thumbs up. It would appear I’ve done something wrong. The only change was swapping out the sour cream for yoghurt. I like solving mysteries though. I might make it following the recipe to the “T” some time. Lots of other recipes I’m looking forward to making first, it will have to wait 🙂

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