Apple and Pear Coffee Cake with Brioche


The University of Minnesota is a leader in developing new varieties of apples. Among them are the Haralson, Honeycrisp, Prairie Spy and dozens more. The latest to hit the markets is the Sweetango. The new apple is sweet and juicy, like its mother (Honeycrisp), but it has a little more acid to it, from dad (Zestar). The combination is incredibly tasty with a lovely snap.

I moved here from Vermont where the quintessential baking apple was the McIntosh. Now that I live in the land of 10,000 lakes and almost as many apples I like to use a variety of them in my baking. I combine apples that will break down and those that will keep their shape. I also like to use some that are sweet and others that have a bit more acid. To add a bit of perfume and richness to the mix I add a bit of pear.

This coffee cake is a perfect way to show off the autumns best apples. Mixed with brioche and streusel topping the cake is great for brunch or an after school snack. Apple and Pear Coffee Cake

The Streusel Topping:

1 cup oats

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup brown sugar, well packed

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1 cup melted butter

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

The Cake:

1 pound (grapefruit-size portion) Brioche dough (page 189) – You will notice that I have decreased the amount of dough, because the technique I’m using in this post is slightly different. Either way will result in the same cake.

2 small apples (1 tart and 1 sweet, thinly sliced)

1 large pear, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons brown sugar

zest of half an orange

1 1/2 cups streusel topping (above)

To make the streusel: Place all the ingredients in a bowl and toss until well combined.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare an 8-inch x 3-inch round cake pan or an 8-Inch Nonstick Springform with grease, a round piece of parchment and a dusting of flour or sugar.


Split the pound of dough in two equal pieces, form them into balls and roll them out to be just slightly wider than the cake pan. place one of the disks of dough in the prepared pan. It should come up the sides just a bit.


Combine the apples, pear, brown sugar and zest in a bowl. Spread half of the apple mixture on the first layer of dough.


cover with about 3/4 cup streusel. Repeat with other layer of dough, rest of apples and another 3/4 cup streusel. Let the cake rest for 1 hour and 20 minutes.


Bake for about 45 minutes, until tester comes out of the center clean. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake.


If you used the cake pan, invert the pan onto a plate. Lift the pan off the cake.


Peel the parchment paper off the bottom of the cake and then invert onto a cake plate.


Make coffee or tea and enjoy!

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95 thoughts on “Apple and Pear Coffee Cake with Brioche

  1. Would this work with challah dough? I’m allergic to eggs and have figured out what to substitute to get a great egg-free challah, but I haven’t mastered the brioche egg free yet.

    Thanks for all the beautiful, great ideas!!!

    1. Hi Cathie,

      Yes, it will work really nicely with the challah dough. Will you share your eggless challah recipe with us?

      Thanks! Zoë

  2. mmm. I get a killer coffee cake from a local bakery that’s more crumb than cake, but OH SO GOOD. I couldn’t help look at it as I munched wondering if I could make it myself with the brioche dough, and here is the recipe! Well, that one wasn’t so interesting with apple and pear, but I know what I’m making for the next fellowship Sunday!

    1. Hi Christina,

      Thank you so much for catching my error! Yes, there is a rest time. I’ve fixed the directions on the post!

      Thank you and enjoy! Zoë

  3. Oh my, I have 3 different kinds of apples and some great pears all out on the porch , as well as some really ripe plums which are just ripe for combining together, and just enough brioche dough in the freezer right now. Talk about serendipity!

  4. OOOHH! I am drooollling! 🙂 Would also love to know how to make eggless challah dough. How to sub for the eggs?

    THANKS, wish I had a slice right now!
    Judy L, TN

  5. Here’s what I do to make my eggless challah dough. The big difference is that I use a lot of “special” ingredients that I know you were trying to avoid when you wrote the book. It’s also not vegan, as I use gelatin.

    (Here’s what I do to replace the 4 beaten eggs)
    1 1/2 tsp. gelatin bloomed in 2 Tbsp. cold water, then 4 Tbsp. boiling water added, then cooled (to replace the binding properties of the egg whites)
    1/3 c. coconut milk (to replace the fat in the egg yolks)
    1/4 tsp. guar gum (to replace the emulsifying properties of egg yolks)

    3 Tbsp. vital wheat gluten (to replace the leavening properties of the egg whites)

    Mix the wet ingredients together first with the yeast and salt. Add the guar gum and vital wheat gluten in with the flour until completely incorporated.

    Follow the rest of the instructions from the book.

    Just a note that the vital wheat gluten tends to make the dough a little drier. Don’t let that bother you. It performs just as nicely. I haven’t tried it without the vital wheat gluten yet. I suspect increasing the liquids a bit might still make for a fine dough.

    I’ve made lots of different recipes with this such as doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, monkey bread and just nice loves of braided challah.

  6. Dr. Jeff, in your wreath bread video, you put the bread into the oven without any resting period. Was that just because there wasn’t time to show that step, or can we really skip a resting period?

    1. Robert: That bread’s intended to rise/rest BEFORE cutting it, which we omitted for the purposes of live TV, good catch. But don’t let it rest after the cuts are made or you lose all the definition and shape of those cut edges. Jeff

  7. Ooo – I think this will be dessert tonight and breakfast tomorrow . . . .
    Question, though. My springform pan is 10 inches . . . . how much should I increase the bread and apples to have it turn out just as cake-like?

    1. Hi CJC,

      The reason that I used a 3″ tall pan is because this is really too much cake for the regular 2″ pans. In other words I think that you will have a lovely 10″ cake if you leave it as it is. If anything I would just use a bit more of the streusel and possibly one more apple.

      Enjoy! Zoë

  8. Lord have mercy….I made this yesterday because I, of course, had my beloved challah dough waiting for me in the fridge (that dough and I have a thing going on.) . Oh, my my my. This may be the most lovely thing I have ever made. I didn’t have a pear so I used an extra apple and threw in some dried cranberries. I also left out the oatmeal because I am a streusel purist. It was the coffeecake I’ve been looking for all my life. Thank you ever so.

  9. I am so grateful to have y’all available to answer questions!

    I’ve 2 today. 1st….for some reason, my wwsandwich dough is way too liquid. Do I still and more flour & let it rest for a day? Or what?

    2nd – I’ve some whey (from making homemade riccotta really easy). what recipe would you recommend to use this? Obviously it’s an experiment….but y’all know your recipes!

    many thanks

    1. Hi Helen,

      Yes, you can certainly add more flour and then let it rest again. It is very forgiving and will be just fine with the addition of more flour.

      I would try it in the buttermilk bread! Please let me know how t comes out!

      Thanks, Zoë

  10. If we go for a 2 lb loaf where the 1 lb instructions say rest 40 min & bake 30 min @ 450, how long should the rest & bake times be? Temp the same, right? Thanks!

    1. Bob: Go for a 60 minute rest, at least. See what it looks like, if it’s starting to spread sideways, into the oven. Otherwise a 90 minute rest may be to your liking. Significantly depends on your kitchen temperature. Baking time: check it at 35 minutes; it will probably need close to 45 minutes or longer, depending on how thickly you shaped it, to get the color we are looking for.

      Those 1-pounders are definitely more predictable, and take less judgement than big loaves, which is why we defaulted to that size in this book. But once you’re experienced, it’s great to start experimenting.

      Same bake temperature though… Jeff

  11. This looks fabulous! My MacIntosh tree is overloaded, and I still have a few bartlett pears in my fridge. I know what I’m taking to the potluck now. Thanks for this beautiful recipe!

    1. Hi Camille,

      I’m so jealous that you have an apple tree in your yard. Do enjoy them, this cake will be perfect!

      Thanks, Zoë

  12. I love this recipe. I make 2 coffee cakes at a time and freeze one. I also have to make a version with just the streusel and chocolate chips because I have kids who do like apples. I know they are weird.

  13. Hi Jeff,

    I missed the link…don’t know how because I think do more shopping with Amazon than most anywhere else! I didn’t wait though, used a 9″ spring load pan and upped the dough by about 3 ounces and added an extra apple. Had more than enough streusel topping. I also covered the edges with foil the last 20 minutes or so as they were getting nicely colored….and then I left it in the oven another 15 minutes after I turned it off at 45 minutes….I wasn’t getting anything on my cake tester but the streusel looked a bit loose.

    It’s cooling now….I’m trying to be patient in cutting it…and figuring how best to both have my cake and share it too. Most of it will go to the office this afternoon. I don’t dare keep it in house. For all of the baking you two…and Dorie Greenspan have brought into my life the past year or so….I have to practice what she calls “Bake and Release”!

    Many thanks for all you and Zoe do for all of us!

  14. Looks absolutely delicious, but we cannot have it with SO much butter in the streusal topping. Is there a way to lighten the fat content and still have decent results?

  15. Thanks for the tips. I think the method is so foolproof it doesn’t matter what I do.

    Now another question: I’m *finally* going to make the brioche. Will it be improved by using duck eggs?

  16. Hello,

    I cannot wait until the new book comes out but today I have a question from the first book.

    I want to make caramel rolls for breakfast but I would like to do all the prepping the night before. How long should I let the refrigerated assembled pan of rolls rest at room temperature before popping it in the oven? Or what do you recommend?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Bob: Sounds like the dough was too wet. Maybe the duck eggs are much bigger– I see that you wrote “NO DUCK EGGS.”

      You end up with a soft but brown crust. Jeff

  17. The crust was soft the first time I checked it, so I cooked it longer. I compensated for the larger size of the duck eggs by using tiny chicken eggs.

    The taste was great but the crumb was too dry. I think the extra “fluffiness” was a bad thing. Overcooking didn’t help, either. Now that I know the crust is *supposed* to be soft I’ll hopefully do a better job next time. Maybe add that detail to the next printing? 🙂 Thanks for the help and I’m still looking forward to Zoe’s thoughts on duck eggs.

    1. Hi Bob,

      Oh my, what I would give to have duck eggs. I’ve never used them in the brioche dough. In fact, I’ve only ever had the privilege to use them once in baking, but they were farm raised and had the most magnificent yolks I’ve ever seen! I imagine that your issue is more to do with over baking than the use of duck eggs, unless their large size messed with the consistency of the dough?

      Enjoy and they are worth experimenting with for sure! Zoë

  18. Zoe, if you do a demo in the Roseburg, OR area I’ll give you all the duck eggs you can carry! Or DM me (@Cyanaura) an address and I’ll send you some. It’s the least I can do. They have thicker shells, so they easily last 2 weeks unrefrigerated, longer (like forever) in the fridge. But the best eggs I’ve ever had are tiny chicken eggs with orange yolks. Worth the $4/dz easily. The most incredibly good taste. So good I only eat them as a plain scramble. To good to mix them with anything. Hard to find, but worth the effort.

  19. Hi Jeff and Zoe,

    whenever i try to email one of your pages, I get a “fatal error.” Am I doing something wrong?

    I’d like to email this page for the great recipe and the egg sub tips.

    Thanks, Judy L, TN

    1. Judy: This feature is working fine on my computer. Is anyone else having trouble? Incidentally, all it does is e-mail the webpage with the recipe, so you could just highlight and copy the URL line in your web browser and e-mail that. Jeff

  20. Hello,

    I actually have 3 topics:

    I’m repeating a question I tried to send when my PC was being tempermental. The flatbread recipes appeal to me. I’d like to understand the lavash recipe better. It says that it makes several, but doesn’t explain how the 1/2 pound portion of dough is divided. Please explain.

    I just found the instructions for brotchen. I plan to try it but would like to ask if there are there any other breads that dough could be used for?

    I find that when I try to bring up the comments in the miscellaneous category, my explorer, IE8, goes to “Not Responding”. Could you tell me if anyone else has reported that?

    Thank you for all the great bread,

    1. Hi Steve,

      It is rather unclear in the text, but you can make one large lavash or cut the dough into smaller pieces and make several. It really depends on how large you want it to be. As long as you are rolling it out thin enough, it doesn’t matter how big they get. I’ve done really loarge ones, which are very dramatic, or small individual sized lavash. What ever you are in the mood for!

      The brotchen is made using the Master recipe on page 25. This is the same dough that can be used for lavash, pita, pizza, boule, baguette or any number of other breads in the book. It is a wonderful all-purpose dough!

      I’m not sure about the comments int he miscellaneous category? I’ll ask Jeff if he knows anything about the issue you describe!

      Thank you, Zoë

  21. Aha! Now I know what I’m doing with all these apples I’ve got, just begging to baked into something. And wouldn’t you know I’ve got brioche dough just sitting in the freezer?? How long should it defrost in the fridge before using? And do you think that Stayman apples would work well in this recipe — it seems to me that they are a good balance between sweet and tart, yes?

    Oh, and I’m not sure how it took me this long but I finally made a batch of the olive oil dough yesterday and made a kind of ciabatta out of it — made it into a rectangle, dusted the top with sea salt, and baked it like a boule. Possibly the best bread to go with pasta I have ever made! Outstanding. Can’t wait to make a pizza with it (since I’ve made pizza with just about every other recipe in the book)…

    1. Laura: We generally say that you need to leave frozen dough in the fridge overnight to defrost it. I’m afraid I’m not familiar with the Stayman variety.

      Great to hear about the ciabatta! Jeff

  22. Is there any way to print your fabulous recipes without the pictures? There is an awful lot of wasted paper here.

    1. Sharon: There’s a way, but it’s not very smooth. Open a word processor document (the easiest is WordPad, the free word processor that comes with Windows, because it won’t even accept the pictures). Highlight and copy the post you’re interested in (avoiding the side text), then paste it into the word processor document. Now, single-click on the pictures if they were accepted, and once-highlighted, delete them. Adjust the margins if you used a sophisticated word processor to do this like MS-Word. Jeff

    1. Hi Laura,

      Yes, it very well could be that the dough lost some of its rising power from being frozen. Sometimes it just requires a longer rise when using frozen dough. I do think that after a while the freezing affects the eggs in the dough and it just doesn’t have the oomph it once did! How long was it frozen?

      Thanks, Zoë

  23. in this coffee cake, are you supposed to use only 1.5 cups of the strudel that you make? are you supposed to have leftover strudel?

    1. Hi Ellen,

      We don’t have that exact recipe, but you could certainly make this cake with the pastry cream recipe in the book and blueberries. It sounds so great I have to give it a try!

      Thanks for the inspiration! Zoë

  24. Thanks Zoe, I will try that. My inspiration comes from a local french pastry shop in my home town. Almost every time I visit, I stop by and pick up one of their Blueberry custard coffee cakes. I may try the Brioche dough recipe and see if I can’t replicate it.

  25. Thnks! Jeff and Zoe for this wonderful recipy. I made the cake with challah-dough and substituted the honey for Australian ginger syrup. Yam!

    1. Hester: Challah dough will work great, though the result will be a bit lighter. Just a different effect. Assuming that Australian ginger syrup is about the same sweetness as honey, this should be fine, give it a try and let us know how it turns out. Jeff

  26. Ginger syrup is a very good substitute for honey. It adds spice to your bite and combines well with cinamon and apples. Needless to say that this coffee cake disappeared in no time! Thnks again!

  27. Hmmm, what do you think of this cake with the pumpkin brioche? I’m thinking of just doing apples so as to not have too many flavors, but I might have to drop in a few “crasins” to add some Chrismas morning cheer. Thoughts?

    1. Bridgit: The pumpkin brioche is subtle. I think that the pumpkin does add flavor, but even more importantly, moisture and texture. Apples or apple/pear, your call, I don’t think it will be over-complex with two fruit varieties. Your idea will work beautifully and the pumpkin is a very healthy ingredient. Craisins also a nice touch. Jeff

  28. Love your recipes. How wet is the Brioche dough supposed to be? Mine came out very wet and I was barely able to roll it when making the brioche bread with chocolate ganache. Do I just add more flour? How much is too much?

    1. Hi Diane,

      It does sound like your dough is too wet if it is still that wet after being refrigerated. You can certainly add more flour and then just let it sit for a couple of hours to allow the flour to absorb the water. It is important to use the scoop and sweep method of measuring the flour or you will end up with a wet dough. That seems to be the most common cause.

      Thanks! Zoë

  29. I didn’t know where to putt his comment. I just made sticky pecan rolls using the brioche dough. OMG! They are the best thing I have ever made!!! I had no idea I was using the wrong dough to make cinnamon rolls (which I will make soon). I want to make this cake now. I hesitated because the finished product looked dense. The camers does not give it justice! Thank you from the bottom of my stomach and heart for having that dough recipe in the book so I would make it!

  30. I made this in my cast iron pot, because I had neither a deep cake pan or a springform pan, and it turned out beautifully. There are pics on my website. I brought it to work yesterday and will bring it to church tomorrow. Everyone really loved it! Thank you so much for your terrific books. I have both and love everything I’ve made from them. I love too!

  31. Oh my goodness… I have this cake baking right now and the smell coming from the oven is absolutely heavenly! I used peaches instead of apples & pears because we went peach picking recently and have an overabundance of them in the fridge.

    I went outside for a few minutes and when I came back in, I couldn’t stop sniffing and making this involuntary yummy noise! How long do I have to let it cool before I cut into it? I don’t know if I can stand the wait!!!

    1. Hi Melissa,

      That does sound outrageously good. I can’t wait to hear how it comes out. If the peaches were really juicy you may need to add a few extra minutes to the baking time. Let it cool so that you can easily handle the pan or even let it sit to room temperature, although the warm peaches will be lovely. You do want to give it plenty of time to set so the dough is not gummy, which happens when you cut into hot bread.

      Enjoy, Zoë

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