Pear and Cheese Coffeecake (Zapekanka) Творожная Запеканка

Pear and Cheese Coffeecake Zapekanka (500x334) My taste buds are loyal to my Slavic roots and this “cake” is a great example of it. We call it a “zapekanka” – Творожная Запеканка. This is my absolute favorite simple dessert. The best way I can think of to describe it, is to say that it reminds me of a combination of a cheesecake and a coffeecake. It’s made with farmer’s cheese, (tvorog) which gives it that creamy, cheesy texture and flavor and the addition of butter and eggs elevates it to a cake. I used semolina, (farina or mannka) instead of flour. If you’re Slavic, you probably grew up eating it as a porridge for breakfast. It really contributes to give this Zapekanka a really awesome texture.

The gently cooked pears are infused with lemon and vanilla flavor and are an exclamation point to the whole dessert. It is such a perfect combination with the cake. Get your coffee or tea started, because anytime this glorious Pear and Cheese Coffeecake comes out of your oven, it’s time to get the party started. 

Ingredients:

1 stick of butter (8 Tablespoons), softened

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs, separated, room temperature

1 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in 1 teaspoon white vinegar

2 cups farmer’s cheese (15-16 oz)

3/4 cup semolina (Cream of Wheat, Farina, манная крупа)

3-4 pears, peeled, seeded and sliced thinly

To cook the pears:

1/4 cup water

sugar, to taste

1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice

1 Tablespoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 2.5 quart baking dish.

Cream the softened butter and sugar in a standing mixer using the paddle attachment or a large bowl and a hand mixer, until light and fluffy. IMG_7036 (500x334) Add the egg yolks and vanilla. Mix until incorporated. IMG_7038 (500x334) IMG_7041 (500x334) Add the baking soda that has been dissolved in the vinegar to the batter and mix to combine. IMG_7053 (500x334) Add the semolina to the mixture and mix to combine. IMG_7051 (500x334) IMG_7055 (500x334) Add the farmer’s cheese and also mix to combine. (You can also use cottage cheese or ricotta cheese instead of the farmer’s cheese, just make sure to drain it well first. Place the cheese in a cheesecloth (or coffee filter) lined strainer/colander and place some kind of weight on top of the cheese. Allow it to stand for a few hours until the cheese is very dry. IMG_7064 (500x334) IMG_7067 (500x334) In another bowl, using the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites with a little bit of sugar (a Tablespoon or so) until soft peaks form. IMG_7062 (500x334) Gently fold the egg whites into the batter with a rubber spatula. IMG_7069 (500x334) IMG_7072 (500x334) Peel and seed the pears. Slice them thinly. IMG_7076 (500x334) Place a layer of overlapping pear slices on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. You will use 1 1/2 -2 pears for this, depending on the size of the pears. IMG_7079 (500x334) Spread the batter evenly over the pears. IMG_7083 (500x334) IMG_7084 (500x334) Bake in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and doesn’t jiggle in the center. IMG_7108 (500x334) While the cake is baking, place the remaining pears slices into a small saucepan or skillet with the water (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan) the sugar, vanilla and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 3-5 minutes, just until the pears soften. The sugar and vanilla will infuse the pears with great flavor and the lemon juice will prevent the pears from browning, as well as bring a bright note to the pears. IMG_7144 (500x334) Scoop out the pears slices carefully from the water and drain on a paper towel. When the cake is baked and has cooled for about 15 minutes, sprinkle it with powdered sugar and serve with the rest of the cooked pears. Pear and Cheese Coffeecake Zapekanka (500x334) Cheese Coffeecake with Pears (500x334)

Pear and Cheese Coffeecake (Zapekanka)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Sweets
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 stick of butter (8 Tablespoons), softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 2 cups farmer's cheese (15-16 oz)
  • ¾ cup semolina (Cream of Wheat, Farina, манная крупа)
  • 3-4 pears, peeled, seeded and sliced thinly
To cook the pears:
  • ¼ cup water
  • sugar, to taste
  • ½ Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 2.5 quart baking dish.
  2. Cream the softened butter and sugar in a standing mixer using the paddle attachment or a large bowl and a hand mixer, until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg yolks and vanilla. Mix until incorporated.
  4. Add the baking soda that has been dissolved in the vinegar to the batter and mix to combine.
  5. Add the semolina to the mixture and mix to combine.
  6. Add the farmer's cheese and also mix to combine. (You can also use cottage cheese or ricotta cheese instead of the farmer's cheese, just make sure to drain it well first. Place the cheese in a cheesecloth (or coffee filter) lined strainer/colander and place some kind of weight on top of the cheese. Allow it to stand for a few hours until the cheese is very dry.
  7. In another bowl, using the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites with a little bit of sugar (a Tablespoon or so) until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter with a rubber spatula.
  8. Peel and seed the pears. Thinly slice the pears.
  9. Place a layer of overlapping pear slices on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. You will use 1½ -2 pears for this, depending on the size of the pears.
  10. Spread the batter evenly over the pears.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and doesn't jiggle in the center.
  12. While the cake is baking, place the remaining pears slices into a small saucepan or skillet with the water (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan) the sugar, vanilla and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 3-5 minutes, just until the pears soften. The sugar and vanilla will infuse the pears with great flavor and the lemon juice will prevent the pears from browning, as well as bring a bright note to the pears.
  13. Scoop out the pears slices carefully from the water and drain on a paper towel.
  14. When the cake is baked and has cooled for about 15 minutes, sprinkle it with powdered sugar and serve with the rest of the cooked pears.

 
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Comments

  1. demelzabunny says

    This looks absolutely delicious! I’m planning on making this for my husband and his parents, who are from Russia.

    By the way: do you have a recipe for smetannik? That’s my absolute favorite Russian/Ukrainian/Slavic dessert. Thanks.

  2. says

    Looks delicious! I’ve never had anything like it. I’ve got some farmers cheese in the fridge and didn’t know what to do with it till now ;). Thanks for the recipe!

  3. says

    It looks so delicious, Olga! And the pears look like such a perfect match. I am with you on the loyalty to the Slavic roots. My husband is away on a business trip and I find myself making more Russian food. :-) I love using semolina, I used it for one of my zapekanka recipes and now I use it for any cheescake, it seems to give it a softer, less dense texture.

    • says

      Yep, I agree about the semolina, Julia. Good idea to add it to cheesecakes:).
      The pears were perfect for this – great flavor and texture combination.

  4. Oksana says

    This is on my list to make this week now. Seems simple, and I already have manka, since we make sure to never run out. Now I just have to make the tvorog. Can’t wait to try the recipe, it sounds perfect with cup of tea or coffee. Thanks

    • says

      I prefer using apples or pears in this coffeecake, but you can use peaches as well, if you’d like. The texture won’t be the same a might be just a tad bit too sweet.

  5. Dorina says

    This recipe is great for last moment decision :-)! It’s easy and quick to make!:-) thank you for sharing with us, any more new recipes? Love to bake! Thank you again!

  6. Sarah says

    Great recipe. My husband (Russian) loved it. I baked it with parchment on the bottom of my pan and inverted it for a sort of pear upside down cake. Thank you.

  7. Maryana says

    Hi Olya! I am trying to build up my breakfast stash of frozen things. Do you think I can prepare this and freeze without cooking or the pears on top and then just pop into oven? Thank you! Love your site!

  8. Yulia says

    Olga cpocibo bolshoe za etot retceptik. Zapekanka ydalas na clavy. Vce domashnie procili dobavki. cechas xochy poprobivat zdelat bylochki c yablokami po vashemu retcepty. Thank You !

      • Yulia says

        Olechka, ya zdelala bulochki c yablochnoi nachinkoi oni y menya polychilic , no y menya pochemyto bylocki pri pechenue ne ctali vozdyshnimi, u kakoi to prifkyc bil drojei. ne znaete pochemy? vrode vce delala po retcepty.
        Thank You!

        • says

          Hi Yulia,
          Sorry, but I don’t know what went wrong with your recipe. It’s hard to know if I’m not in the kitchen with you while you’re making it.
          Maybe the dough rose too long or not enough, or your yeast wasn’t fresh. I really don’t know.

  9. Gail says

    I made this last week. It was delicious. There is something very addicting about it, too. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  10. yulia says

    Hi, Olga! Zapekanka is one of my favorite dishes and I couldn’t make it for a long time in the US because I couldn’t find the cottage cheese that would be dry enough. Finally I found some farmer’s cheese by the same company that makes Kefir and finally made it. It tasted different than any zapekanka I had before (outside the US) and I just had four (!) pieces of it! I put apples on the bottom and some dried cherries in the batter, I LOVED how the apples turned out – it is such a good idea to add a fruit to this dish. Should try pears next time. Thank you for the recipe!!!

    PS. And one question – when you do it is it moist inside? My turned out moist – with a very buttery taste like you find in some cakes.

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