Pear Coffee Cake

Liam's put a poached-pear spin on a traditional bake for Old School Week.

Liam's put a poached-pear spin on a traditional bake for Old School Week

This coffee cake is a true original, with only the tips of the whole pears breaking the surface — just enough to intrigue and tempt guests to dig in! The pears can add too much moisture to the cake, so be sure that they are knife tender when poaching them. To core the pears while keeping the stem attached, make a cone shaped cut into the bottom.

This cake was featured on Old School Week of The Great Canadian Baking Show.


Poached Pears:

  • 3 crisp Bosc pears, peeled and cored from bottom, stem attached
  • 3 cups (750 mL bottle) dry white wine
  • 1-1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 4 cloves
  • 3 star anise pods
  • 2 cinnamon sticks


  • ¾ cup plus 2 tbsp (200 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups (200 g) flour
  • 2-1/4 tsp (3 g) baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 3/4 tsp (3 g) salt


  • 1/2 cup (100 g) lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (35 g) flour
  • 1/4 cup (22 g) large flake oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1⁄4 cup salted butter, softened


To poach pears:

Combine the pears, wine, sugar, cardamom, cloves, star anise and cinnamon in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer and poach until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove pears from liquid and set aside to cool. 

To make a finishing drizzle, reduce poaching liquid until thick. Set aside to cool. 


Heat oven to 350F. Brush 9x5-inch loaf pan with butter and line with parchment paper to overhang sides. Brush parchment paper with butter and set aside. 

Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with a hand mixer until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating each egg completely before adding the next. Sift the flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt over the batter; fold in gently. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Press the pears into the batter to base of pan, stem end up. 

Streusel topping: 

Whisk together the brown sugar, flour, oats and spices in a medium bowl. Add the butter and work it in by hand or with a fork until the mixture resembles wet sand. Sprinkle onto cake.  

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean (be sure to avoid going into a pear), about 50 to 60 minutes. Cool 30 minutes before removing from the pan to a rack to cool completely. Adjust the thickness of the reduced poaching liquid as needed for a nice consistency and drizzle across top of cake before serving.

Yield: Serves 8-10 (1 loaf)


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