You blink once, and holiday lights are going up in the city. I love this festive time of the year: it makes me want to nestle in, slow down and make the house smell amazing by baking something every day.
In theory. The reality is my days are already bursting at the seams with work and commute and all the other stuff life throws at you, but heck, I’ll find the time to bake something on the weekend.
It’s gonna be a simple and easy coffee cake.
I like simple and I do simple often. More often than not, to be honest. It doesn’t always have to be something lifestyle magazine-worthy. Baking should be about bringing joy: to you during the process, and to those who you share the fruit of your work with. At the end of the day only the smiles count, no matter how simple or complicated the recipe was.
If you are a novice baker, I say you start with coffee cakes – success guaranteed, provided you measure the ingredients properly. Cups are great, but get a scale (Christmas wish list alert).
Coffee cake generally refers to a sweet cake intended to be enjoyed with coffee or tea so basically it can be any cake-like substance, but for me a proper coffee cake is always a variation on the plain yellow cake with the moist and tender crumb.
My go-to recipe was pirated from my granny’s hand-written recipe collection but don’t expect big surprises here, these dense cakes are made with pretty much uniform ingredients and techniques.
Once you have your basic recipe mastered, the sky is the limit for what you can stir or layer into the batter. Wherever you stand on glaze, streusel and fillings, it doesn’t really matter as long as you stay true to the roots, that is: easy and down-home delicious, the reason why coffee cakes are on major repeat in most kitchens.
What you need for this informal, everyday sweet treat is stuff you already have in your pantry, namely butter, sugar, flour and eggs. I love nuts, so I always add either ground hazelnuts or walnuts too (I reserve almonds for butter cookies). And to top the cake, my favorite fruit is pear. And apples. Or plums. Oh, the plums! Here’s the recipe before I get further carried away:
Hazelnut & Pear Coffee Cake
Simple, basic coffee cake with fruit and nuts.
for the cake:
200 g butter
200 g white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
225 g AP flour
75 g hazelnut meal
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
for the topping:
2 medium pears
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp sugar
- Mix sugar with cinnamon for the topping in a small bowl.
- Wash, peel, core and slice pears.
- Preheat oven to 160°C / 320°F, grease and flour a 23 cm / 9” springform cake pan.
- Mix flour, ground hazelnut, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside.
- Beat butter and sugar with a handheld electric mixer (or in the stand mixer equipped with the paddle attachment) on medium until creamy.
- Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
- Add flour mixture to butter mixture by tablespoons, beating on low until combined.
- Pour batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly with a spatula.
- Arrange pear slices on top, sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.
- Bake for 45 min. Cover loosely with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning and bake an additional 25 to 30 minutes or until center is set.
- Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes; remove sides of pan. Cool completely before slicing.