I come from a large family. Three girls, three boys. We rarely agree on anything. In fact, the list of things we all love with our whole hearts as a group is very short:
- Star Wars.
- Nana’s Coffee Cake Recipe.
This coffee cake has been in the family for years, another oldie, like the pumpkin pie recipe, passed down from my Nana.
These days we don’t get to spend a lot of time together, all off in our own separate lives, so when we are all together, large breakfasts are obligatory.
Bacon. Eggs. Coffee. Freshly squeezed orange juice. Enormous pile of random fruit. And of course, coffee cake.
This recipe comes together in a pinch, and is so simple and delicious. A light, fluffy cake topped with brown sugar and cinnamon, it’s like a cinnamon roll but without the weight and the frosting; the perfect counterpoint to bacon and eggs.
In a bowl, beat the egg. If you sing some Michael Jackson while doing so, it makes it taste even better, I swear.
Then add your sugar, milk, vanilla and oil, and make sure everything is smooth.
Add your flour, salt and baking powder, and just stir until smooth! If you overdo it, it’ll be tough, so ease up on the MJ right around here.
Pour in a 9×9 pan. (The pictures are for a double recipe – I’m pretty sure there would have been problems if there wasn’t enough coffee cake for all of us. Wars have been started for less.)
In a bowl, mix your brown sugar, cinnamon, flour, and melted butter.
Now we come to the Great Division: nuts or no nuts? I LOVE walnuts in this recipe. LOVE THEM. Most of my siblings, not so much. Just means more for me!
Mix everything together, and sprinkle it over the top of the cake. Carefully stake out which side of the cake is going to be yours by marking it surreptitiously with a funny-looking walnut, and sprinkling juuuuust a little more cinnamon on that corner. I mean, you love your family, but this is coffee cake we’re talking about here.
Pop that baby in the oven and let ‘er bake for the longest 25 minutes of your life.
Then let it cool for at least 5 minutes, which are even longer and worse because it’s right there. It helps to distract yourself by helping set the table or make bacon or something, because anything that will prevent you from just staring at this delicious breakfast while you can’t eat it is a good idea.
I love me some corner edges, where it’s just a smidgen crunchy…
It’s the perfect companion to the small, dark, Italian espressos my dad makes…
Sophisticated enough for tea-time and gold-edged plates…
But homey enough to shove in your face in those bleary-eyed ten minutes before a shower or a coffee where no one, and I mean no one is allowed to judge you based on the things you say or do.
Mornings are hard.
This coffee cake is not, and that’s really what makes it perfect.
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 tbsp melted butter
- OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat your oven to 375°.
Beat the egg in a bowl.
Add sugar, milk, vanilla and oil, and stir until smooth.
Add flour, salt and baking powder to the mixture, and stir only until smooth. Do not over-beat, or it will be tough.
Spread in a 9x9 inch pan.
In a separate bowl, make your topping: mix brown sugar, cinnamon, flour, melted butter and optional nuts.
Sprinkle mixture over the top of the cake.
Bake for 25 minutes.
Let cool for 5 minutes and then serve.
Can be made with almond or soy milk, and margarine in the topping for a dairy-free option.