I panicked for a split second when I pulled it out of the oven, because I used a darker brown sugar than I usually use, and the whole cake looked like it was topped with ground beef! Luckily, that was just my imagination. It was fine. Cutting it was fine, although in retrospect, letting it cool completely will make it easier to slice without the colors and crumbs bleeding and messing looking. Still tasty, though.
This was adapted from a recipe from Southern Living, originally with peaches instead of pears. I thought it was a reasonable substitute, at least in terms of moisture level. I think pears go together just as nicely with blackberries, if not better. Then again, I’m a little biased. I love pears! Probably my favorite fruit after cherries.
The reason why I’m taking the liberty to call it “Summer Pear” is just that I associate pears with the fall and winter months, and the holidays. Yet this is a popular variety that comes out in the summer months that is just perfectly juicy and sweet, with very soft green skin. In fact, I probably could’ve left the pears unpeeled in this cake, and it would’ve been okay still. And the blackberries I bought at one of the many farmer’s markets across the state. They are perfectly plump and juicy with the right amount of tartness.
Summer Pear and Blackberry Crumb Cake
For crumb topping (streusel):
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp.
About two large pears, peeled, cored, and cut into cubes
Combine the crumb topping in a small bowl and press down with potato masher, use a hand held beater on medium until just coarse, or just use your fingers to create small pea-sized parts with the butter and mix with the sugars. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 5 inch bread loaf pan, or one with different dimensions but of similar volume. Set aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir with a whisk in the bowl to make sure ingredients are well dispersed.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly until incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat until thoroughly combined.
Alternating and starting with the flour mixture, first add about 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat on the lowest possible gage of the beater, followed by add half of the milk, beating until the milk has been incorporated, followed by the second third of the flour mixture, mixing and scraping the sides of the bowl and only mixing until most of the dry flour mixture is wet, then finally the rest of the milk.
You can either place the batter in the prepared pan at this point, or fold in the fruit. I decided to add the batter to the pan first, then to arrange the fruit randomly, followed by topping it with all the crumb (or streusel) topping. The reason I topped the batter is that I didn’t want the fruit at the bottom, and this batter should be thick enough to keep the fruit on top.
Bake at 350 degrees F, for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. Leave to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before turning out of pan and letting cool before slicing. careful not to mistake the streusel or crumb topping being done as meaning that the cake below is done. I had to bake mine 1 hour and 10 minutes, because the pears were very juicy, so keep that in mind, too.