Wine Taster’s Coffee Cake – Award Winning Recipe

I participated in the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center Blue Ribbon Country Fair again this year with three entries; I came home with three ribbons. This is my red-ribbon-winning coffee cake; I’m thrilled with a second place with the cake they tasted because I almost didn’t enter this one. I’ll tell you why…

I’ve been in a dilemma about this post because Mr. Saucy advised me to not tell you how I messed up with this cake. But for those of you who know me, you know… I tell everything; especially when I’ve messed something up. And boy, did I mess this up.

Once again, I decided to adapt my great-great-grandmother’s coffee cake batter. I settled on a cake that would be a riff on a wine tasting. So, the main elements of the cake are all things you’d have on a wine tasting table: champagne, brie, walnuts and pears. The cake batter contains walnuts; sandwiched in the middle is a brie cheesecake layer; the top is a beautiful spiral of champagne poached pears glittering with sanding sugar, to replicate the champagne bubbles.

The entries to the fair were due by Friday evening at 5:00 p.m. and last year when I entered, I was taking my entries at the last minutes. This year it wasn’t any different, even though I’d given myself all day to bake. Last year I was sick to my stomach about my entries because I’d never entered a cooking competition before (these are last year’s entries for coffee cake and tea cakes). This year I was sick because I knew I’d made a huge mistake with this particular entry.

I had baked this cake and it was cooling on a wire rack as I started the next recipe I was making. I opened the microwave to melt some butter for the second recipe when I discovered the bowl with the melted butter for this cake. Oh. my. God. I’d left out the butter!

You might wonder how in the world I’d left it out, but this batter is particularly stiff. And while I noticed that it was stiffer than normal, I scanned the recipe I’d planned (I wrote the recipe before I attempted to make it), I didn’t notice anything I’d missed. I suppose that’s because in my mind, the butter was taken care of already. Well, it was…it was melted…but not added to the batter.

I didn’t have time to re-bake the cake. I was certain it would be like cardboard. I thought about not entering it. Then, I was fatalistic. I’d said I’d enter and I would; I put my embarrassment aside and took it.  Later that night, I told Mr. Saucy that the only thing that might save it was the fat in the middle cheesecake layer and the butter/champagne poached pears on top. Those two factors might give it enough moisture to compensate for my mistake.

When I picked up my entries the next day, this one had won the red ribbon, second place, in the coffee cake category. I was able to taste the cake then…and it was moist. But…if you decide to make this…the butter in the batter really does make it so much better. *wink*

That’s one baking blunder I’ll never make again. There will be others, I’m sure. But this won’t be my last cooking competition…I enjoy the challenge of pushing myself to come up with new and unique recipes. A ribbon is the icing on the cake, so to speak. *huge smile*


5.0 from 1 reviews
Wine Tasters Coffee Cake
All of the elements of a wine tasting...champagne, brie, walnuts and pears...come together in this layered coffee cake. The sanding sugared top is reminiscent of champagne bubbles to tickle your palate as you bite into a morsel of magic.
Recipe type: Recipe Type: Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoon baking powder
  • titch of ground nutmeg (fresh is preferable)
  • 6 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1½ cups half and half
  • ¾ cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely ground
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 4 ounces brie, rind removed
  • ¼ cup half and half
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup Greek-style yogurt
  • ½ tablespoon champagne
  • 2 rounded tablespoons flour
  • 4 pears, peeled, cored, sliced
  • 4 tablespoon butter
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • ¼ cup champagne
  • 2 tablespoons apple brandy (optional: if not used, increase the champagne by 2 tablespoons)
  • titch of ground nutmeg
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt the butter.
  4. Add the sliced pears.
  5. Squeeze lemon juice over the pears.
  6. Add the champagne and the apple brandy and simmer covered for 10 minutes.
  7. Increase heat to medium high and allow to caramelize, about 15 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  10. In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients.
  11. Add the melted butter and milk and stir with a wooden spoon. *
  12. Press ½ of the dough into a greased 9″ springform pan (line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper if you are transferring the finished cake to a plate).
  14. In the bowl of your electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, brie, milk and sugar until smooth and creamy.
  15. Add one egg, half of the yogurt and half of the flour.
  16. Beat until well combined.
  17. Add the remaining egg, yogurt and flour.
  18. Beat until well combined.
  19. Pour the cheese filling over the half of the cake batter that is in the pan.
  20. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  21. Remove from oven.
  22. On a lightly floured surface, pat out the remaining batter into a round the size of the pan.
  23. Carefully add the second half of the cake batter on top of the cheese layer.
  24. Arrange the cooled pears on the top of the second layer of batter in the springform pan.
  25. Sprinkle with sanding sugar.
  26. Place back in oven.
  27. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the cake is a fully risen under the pears.
  28. Remove from oven to cool on a wire rack.
  29. After 15 minutes, remove the side from the springform pan.
  30. Cool completely.
  31. Remove from springform pan to plate.
This is a very stiff batter; it is one that I have adapted from my great-great-grandmother's coffee cake. Do not thin the batter.

 ps: My two other entries also earned ribbons this year…Bourbon Carrot Bread and Pink Lemonade Tea Cakes both took third place in their respective categories.


About P ~ The Saucy Southerner

I started cooking when I was ten years old. For me, the process of cooking, from inception of a dish, to the execution, to the washing of the pots is sheer delight. I am now retired from a business I still own, in partnership with my husband. I used to work six days a week and still cook every night. Now, I'm gardening, still cooking, always having fun and hoping to share my joy with you. Thank you for reading...and commenting! P~
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2 Responses to Wine Taster’s Coffee Cake – Award Winning Recipe

  1. nimmy says:

    im gonna make this today. but I dont understand why it says coffee cake. im not fussed, just curious
    is it called coffee cake because it is to be had with coffee or because thereshould be coffee in it? (it’s not in the ingredietns)
    thanks 🙂

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