Coffee cake — a versatile snack

To someone not hearing the term before, coffee cake could mean a cake using coffee in the ingredients. But then it would usually contain chocolate as well and be called a mocha cake. Or the thought could be that someone forgot to put "and" between the word cake and coffee, making it an American form of the English custom of afternoon tea.


But it is neither.


A coffee cake is a heavier, sweetened batter, with a streusel mixture of cinnamon, brown sugar and nuts either sprinkled on top of the batter before baking or putting half of the batter in the baking pan, sprinkling on the sugar mixture and topping it with the remainder of batter before baking. Either way, it is delicious and is wonderful served warm for a breakfast or brunch.


The Betty Crocker Cookbook defines the coffee cake as a quick bread, a descendant of the crude hearth cakes of long ago. Some such breads are like the bannocks o' barley that Robert Burns wrote about. They are classified as quick because they are made with quick-acting leavening, such as baking powder or baking soda and sour milk combined.


The quick breads can be made at the last minute - no waiting for yeast to rise as in other types of doughs. They can be mixed, baked and served piping hot from the oven in just a short matter of time.


Here are some recipes for the versatile coffee cake. It can be made using fruit in the batter or in the filling and usually has a flavorful cinnamon-sugar streusel included.


This cinnamon coffee cake is spicy, fragrant and delicious, so the recipe states. It was brought from the Isle Royal by Esther Scarborough of Minneapolis, and is from the Betty Crocker Cookbook.


Prize Cinnamon Coffee Cake


3/4 cup sugar


1/4 cup soft shortening


1 egg


1/2 cup milk


1 1/2 cups sifted flour


2 teaspoons baking powder


1/2 teaspoon salt




1/2 cup packed brown sugar


1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon


1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans


Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix sugar, shortening and egg. Stir in milk. Sift or stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. (Few cooks have sifters any more-this cookbook is from the 1950s.) Mix until combined. Spread batter in a greased and floured 9-inch square pan. Sprinkle with streusel topping. Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick thrust into the center of the coffee cake comes out clean. Serve warm, fresh from the oven. Makes nine 3-inch squares.


Blueberry Coffee Cake


3/4 cup sugar


1/4 cup shortening


1 egg


1/2 cup milk


2 cups flour


2 teaspoons baking powder


1/2 teaspoon salt


2 cups well drained frozen blueberries or fresh blueberries


Set oven to 375 degrees. Mix sugar and shortening together, add egg and combine. Stir in milk. Slowly stir in flour that has been combined with baking powder and salt. After the batter is mixed well, carefully add the blueberries, folding into the batter.


Sprinkle the top with the following crumb mixture:


1/2 cup sugar


1/3 cup flour


1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


1/4 cup soft butter


Mix together until crumbly and sprinkle on top. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. Serve warm sprinkled with confectioners' sugar. Serves nine.


This coffee cake is from the book where I entered an Ohio Cook Book Contest in 2002. This is not my recipe for coffee cake, but I have several recipes included in the book, including my apple raspberry streusel pie.


This coffee cake calls for yellow cake mix and sour cream, and although I have yet to try it, it looks easy and delicious.


Apple Crumb Coffee Cake


18.25-ounce box yellow cake mix


3/4 cup vegetable oil


1/4 cup sugar


4 eggs


8-ounce carton low-fat sour cream


2 cups chopped cooking apples


1 cup well-packed brown sugar


1 teaspoon cinnamon


1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts




2 cups powdered sugar


4 tablespoons milk


1 teaspoon vanilla


2 tablespoons butter, melted


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine cake mix, oil, sugar, eggs and sour cream and mix well. Fold in apples. Pour half of cake mixture batter into a 13-by-9-inch cake pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. In another bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts; sprinkle half of mixture over cake.


Swirl sugar-nut mixture throughout the cake with a small knife. Pour remaining batter into pan and sprinkle with remaining sugar-nut mixture. Swirl the topping lightly into the top layer. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.


To prepare glaze: In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and melted butter and mix well. When cake is removed from oven, pierce holes in top with toothpicks or tines of a fork.


Pour glaze over coffee cake while still warm. Allow to cool for 1 hour before serving.


Note: I don't think I would swirl the sugar-nut mixture on top of the cake. It would look better if it were just sprinkled on.


This a coffee cake that contains healthy ingredient of oats and also bananas. It is moist and flavorful.


Banana-Oatmeal Coffee Cake


1 cup flour


1 1/4 cups oats, uncooked


3 teaspoons baking powder


1/2 teaspoon salt


1/4 teaspoon cinnamon


1/3 cup oil


1/2 cup sugar


1/2 cup well-packed brown sugar


2 eggs


2 bananas, mashed




1/3 cup sugar


1/3 cup flour


3 tablespoons butter


1 teaspoon cinnamon


1/2 cup cut-up nuts


Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; stir well. In another bowl, combine oil, sugar, brown sugar, eggs and mashed bananas. Mix well. Add dry mixture and stir well.


Make streusel by rubbing the flour and sugar between the fingers with the butter. Add the cinnamon and nuts. Pour into a greased and floured 9-inch square cake pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture.


Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serves nine to 12.


This is a scone recipe, but it is baked in a 9-inch circle that is cut in wedges and sprinkled with sugar and is either served warm for breakfast or for an afternoon tea. It is from the Ohio Cook Book.


Orange Scones with American Clotted Cream


2 cups flour


1/3 cup sugar


2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder


Pinch of salt


3 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into small pieces


8-ounce carton lemon or vanilla yogurt


1/4 cup orange juice


1 tablespoon grated orange peel


1 tablespoon sugar


Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add yogurt, orange juice and orange peel. Stir just until moistened; dough will be sticky.


With floured hands, place dough on a greased baking sheet and pat into a 9-inch circle. Score dough into 10 wedges and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.


Serve with American Clotted Cream and a favorite jam or jelly.


American Clotted Cream


8-ounce package cream cheese, softened


3 tablespoons sugar


1/2 cup whipping cream


1 teaspoon vanilla


In a bowl, whip cream cheese. Then add sugar and whipping cream. Beat in vanilla. Continue beating until semi-thick and smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.