Old-fashioned Coffee Cake

piece of coffee cake on plate

Coffee cake is a wonderful sweet treat to have with coffee (or without), so I was pleased to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Coffee Cake. The cake turned out well. It was moist and tender with a nice cinnamon and sugar topping.

Here’s the original recipe:

Coffee Cake Recipe
Source: The New Dr. Price Cook Book (1921)

And, there’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Coffee Cake

  • Servings: 7 - 9
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print


2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons shortening, melted

1 cup milk

Topping Mixture

3 teaspoons flour + additional, if needed

1 tablespoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons sugar + additional, if needed

3 tablespoons shortening

Preheat oven to 375° F. Put all of the cake ingredients in a mixing bowl. Beat to combine. Put batter in a greased and floured 9-inch square cake pan.

In a separate bowl, place the flour cinnamon, and sugar. Stir to combine. Add the shortening, and mix together until the texture is crumbly. It may helpful to use your hands to get the shortening mixed in.  (When I made the recipe I added more flour and sugar than called for in the original recipe, to make it more crumbly).

Spread the topping mixture over the top of the cake. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until a wooden pick comes out clean.


28 thoughts on “Old-fashioned Coffee Cake

      1. I didn’t mean to be a mythbuster, but Coffee Cake generally doesn’t include coffee. Rather coffee cake is supposed to go well with coffee.

    1. I’ve eaten cakes with mocha (coffee) frosting, but I don’t think that I’ve ever had a cake that contained actual coffee.

  1. Coffee cake: a staple of midwestern kitchens for decades. When “come by for coffee” was a standing invitation and “coffee klatch” still was in our vocabulary, this sort of coffee cake was a necessity.

      1. There apparently was regional variation in the popularity of Coffee Cake. When I was growing up in Pennsylvania, we occasionally made coffee cake, but didn’t have it very often. It sounds like Coffee Cake was made more frequently in the midwest.

  2. Growing up, especially in the summer, my mother always had coffee cake handy for when the neighbors came over (there was always someone drinking coffee at the kitchen table). Us kids only were allowed to have it on Sundays – if there was any leftover. Monday was when she baked a new one!

  3. I love coffee cake and was curious about the Dr. Price baking powder. Turns out he was the grandfather of the actor : ) Also will be trying this recipe, the small size will be just right!

    1. Fascinating – I never would have put it together that Dr. Price was Vincent Price’s grandfather. Your comment led me to google “Dr. Price baking powder”, and I was even more surprised to discover that the doctor and the actor shared the same first name. I think that you’ll like the recipe. The Coffee Cake has a nice taste.

    1. There probably are a lot of similarities. The Bisquick would have already contained a leavening agent, so you may not have needed to add baking power.

        1. Your comment reminds me of Impossible Pies that my mother used to make. They were made with Bisquick. The Bisquick was combined with other ingredients, but it sank to the bottom and made a crust.

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