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Cinnamon Coffee Cake

This is a recipe from McCall's Great American Recipe Card Collection. If I remember correctly, these cards were collected over time, arriving in the mail in installments. Each installment filled another section of my Aunt Hen's large plastic recipe box that she received with her subscription.

The recipe card has the year 1973 printed on it. It is no longer kept with all of the other recipes in a neatly organized file but belongs in a folder in my kitchen file drawer when it isn't thumbtacked to a cork board inside my kitchen cabinet, indicating that I have specific plans to make it. This card has been mine for almost 30 years now.

Like the dear bunny in "The Velveteen Rabbit", this card has grown shabby. It is stained and creased and worn. Time has turned it yellow and experience has spattered batter on the front picture and spilled something else, maybe vanilla, on the back. Still it is well loved, regarded and remembered. It holds the secret formula for a coffee cake we have consistently treasured in my family since the beginning. Perhaps in posting it here it can even become REAL. As the book says, "When you are Real shabbiness doesn't matter."

My family has used this cake with a few candles on top as a birthday cake, with a big nut baked inside as a King Cake and, for a while, we made it almost every Sunday, without variation, for an after church brunch. To newlyweds on a tight budget this coffee cake was a real treat. Warm out of the oven it is fragrant, soft and delicious. Later in the day it is a little firmer but still wonderful.

Last week my husband wanted a cake to share at work. Of course, this is the one he asked for. Cut into sixteen small pieces it was gone in an instant. Really, it's that good!

Sunday Special Coffee Cake
adapted slightly from McCall's Great American Recipe Card Collection


1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, softened


1 1/2 cup flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

Prepare the topping by combining 1/2 sugar, 1/4 cup flour and 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a small bowl and then mixing in the 1/4 cup softened butter with a fork until the mixture is crumbly. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

For the batter:

With a whisk, combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg until frothy. Add 3/4 cup sugar and 1/3 cup melted butter blending until smooth.

Add the milk and vanilla, whisking until well combined.

With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour mixture until smooth and well combined.

Pour the batter into a prepared 9 inch square baking pan. Scatter the topping evenly across the top. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until done.

Cool a bit on a wire rack, then cut into pieces and serve warm.



noble pig said...

How delicious is this. I haven't heard the word McCall's in years but remember the magazine. I have to make this!

the southern hostess said...

This sounds so good. I might have to get in the kitchen on Sunday morning.

Bunny said...

I love cakes like this they are a real treat, thanks for posting the recipe!

pam said...

i love these kind of cakes! I remember the McCall's paper dolls!

Donna-FFW said...

I love coffee cake and this looks delicious. Ill have to try this variation.

MaryBeth said...

WOW... McCalls is a name you don't hear much about any more. This is a wonderful recipe, I love making these on a cold Sunday morning for breakfast.

grace said...

bliss, thy name is cinnamon coffee cake. so moist yet still properly crumbly, redolent of cinnamon. sigh. :)

Cathy said...

My favorite coffeecake ever. I have an old McCall's cookbook from the 1960 that I love. Lots of old fashioned recipes.

Elyse said...

This coffee cake looks incredible! I love that the recipe card has grown shabby and worn with love--evidence of how great this cake is. Sorry that I've been an absent commenter; I just finished up my law school exams and am finally getting around to my google reader.

Chrissy said...

This looks wonderful! I love home baked goods and I will definitely try this one. I grew up with McCalls too, reminds me of cutting out pictures with my Mom and Grandma.

Maybelle said...

Pardon me, but is there really no coffee in the cake? Nonetheless, I'm sure to try this recipe. Thanks so much for sharing!

Robin Sue said...

I love those worn out recipe cards. I do remember that subscription of recipe cards that came once a month. My roomie had them in college too. The cake looks so moist and delicious.

Anonymous said...

I made this bright and early this morning because we were expecting visitors. It is SO GOOD! We loved it, and I'll be making it again... and again.

Thanks muchly!

Lisa said...

Anonymous - Thanks for your kind comment. I was up bright and early this morning making this coffee cake too. Today it was for my youngest son's birthday. He wouldn't say what kind of birthday cake he wanted but the men in my house always love this coffee cake!

Anonymous said...

I made this today for my family. however I added 1/2 cup chopped pecans to the batter. What a wonderfully easy to make recipe. Thanks for sharing.

Kelly, mama of 4 said...

this is our new favorite recipe... We all love it and the kids enjoy helping... Thanks Lisa for your amazing blog to give Moms new ideas!

Lisa said...

Kelly, and all -I'm so glad to hear you like this coffee cake as much as my family has over the years. Thank you for your comments!

Anonymous said...

Just wondering, why is it called coffee cake when there is no coffee added?


Anonymous said...

Thanking for post this recipe. My mom got these cards when i was a kid and i always made this coffee cake. Years later the card got lost in a move. And I have been looking for the recipe for a long time.Glad i will be able to make it for my kids. Thanks

Alice D. Millionaire said...

this is in my oven as we type. in hindsight though, i wish i'd doubled the topping and put it in the middle & on the top. yummm.

ravenlockes said...


I was searching online for over an hour for this recipe-my son;s favorite recipe and I could not find the card in my file--praise GOD!! THANK YOU!!!