Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pear Teacake with Marzipan Streusel

Everyone has childhood memories of family traditions - whether it is a special holiday tradition, a favorite family recipe, or an annual trip. In my family, one thing I could always count on was that at around 3:30 every afternoon, no matter what else was going on, my grandmother would stop what she was doing and have tea.

Mom or I would put on the kettle, brew a pot of tea, set a pitcher of milk and the sugar bowl on the table. Three teacups and saucers. Three spoons. And then... Grammie would say, "how about a little something?" You see for Grammie there was tea at breakfast, a cup of tea around 10am, a cup with lunch, a cup after dinner and maybe a cup as a pick-me-up during the day. But tea time in the afternoon was different, special. The table would be set, a whole pot would be brewed instead of a single mug, china cups would come out... and there would be "a little something."

"A little something" was often a simple slice of cinnamon raisin toast with cream cheese but sometimes it was apple pie or leftover cake from a birthday or holiday. Sometime in my early teens my Mom and I started making this incredible plum teacake (the pears come later). It was incredibly dense and rich, not overly sweet. The plums stayed juicy and plump on the top while creating a thin sliver of a delectably moist layer right underneath them. A hint of cinnamon and this cake was perfection with a hot cup of tea. Over the years I've tweaked it to make it better and better.
Certainly any stone fruit could be used in place of plums but while pears and apples are in season I've been thinking of ways to make this cake using them instead. Here is my first adaption of the (insert movie announcer voice) MOST AMAZING TEACAKE EVER into Pear Teacake with Marzipan Streusel.

Pear Teacake with Marzipan Streusel
inspired by Plum Torte
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2t almond extract
2 cups AP flour
1t baking powder
1/4t salt
3 medium pears, peeled and sliced
cinnamon & sugar, to taste

1/4 cup marzipan (almond paste)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup AP flour
cinnamon, to taste

You will need a 9" springform pan, sprayed with baking spray or buttered and lightly floured.

Preheat oven to 350º F

Peel the pears and slice. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.

Combine the softened butter and sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs, heavy cream and almond extract. Beat well. At this stage the batter will have the appearance of a too-thin pancake batter.

Sift the remaining dry ingredients into the batter and gently incorporate. Now the batter will be quite thick and hold onto the whisk for a few seconds before dropping down into the bowl.
Spread half of the batter into the prepared 9" springform pan. Layer pear slices on top. I use my broken and less uniform slices here.
Gently spoon the rest of the batter on top and spread it evenly over the whole. Lay the remaining pear slices on top.
Cover the whole with the streusel topping, broken into pea sized pieces. I like to cover the batter first and then use whatever is left on top of the pears. Bake at 350º F for approximately one hour, or until tester comes out just a bit moist. Let cool before removing from pan or the cake may tear apart.
This cake may be frozen for up to one month, but it is best enjoyed fresh with a pot of tea and conversation with friends.


  1. MMM!! Your little something is super tempting. Memories like you have are so special, I'm so glad you shared them here (along with this cake!)

  2. Being German, both streusel and marzipan are very dear to my heart. this sounds like a to-die-for combination of the two, and pear is always delicious in baked items. :)

  3. Jennifer, A terrific story here steeped in family tradition - it doesn't get any better than that! Grammies always seem to know what to do to make that certain moment special... I'm smitten by the marzipan streusel, paired with the flavors of the cake. This recipe is now yours to hand down and your grandchildren will think of you as lovingly as you do your Grammie. Brava!

  4. Oh, this looks so inviting! I think I will bake this for tea with my mom and daughter :-)

  5. pears and cake - what a great combination :o)

  6. Made this last night and everyone was murmuring "delicious cake!" I did not put any sugar on the pears - they were Harry & David and quite ripe. Slightly shorted the sugar. Subbed 1/4 cup of almond flour + 1/4 cup oat bran plus a couple tablespoons chia seeds - for equal amount of unbleached all-purpose flour. Didn't have a springform pan so buttered & floured a nonstick tall round pan, cut the cake with a plastic knife, and it held its shape perfectly for serving, no problem. Was insecure about its being done. Glad you mentioned tested would be moist. No batter clinging to it but touching the middle it seemed so liquid rather than springing back, though I gave it an extra 8-10 min. At that point, pulled it out to not have it overdone. I think it was perfect. So notice to all, don't worry that the middle doesn't spring back - perhaps especially if your pears are as juicy as mine were - that thought was what made me ready to pull it out. Wonderful recipe and will add it to ones to repeat!

    1. Thank you for this wonderful comment! I'm so glad you made the cake and made it your own with substitutions. Thank you for letting me know how it turned out for you.


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