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Cinnamon-Sugar Coffee Cake, A Vintage Recipe

If you like coffee cake, you’re going to want to try this old fashioned Cinnamon-Sugar Coffee Cake recipe. This vintage recipe is worth the effort.

Coffee cake is one of those things. It’s comforting and familiar and perfect for breakfast. This one, made from a recipe from the 1930s, has a dense crumb and an irresistible buttery cinnamon sugar topping.

No, it’s not that impossibly fluffy and almost-dessert-sweet coffee cake from the grocery store. But it doesn’t want to be. It’s a totally different coffee cake — one that stands up to the fork without squishing into oblivion and that can be eaten by hand without crumbling all over. And it’s really great with a hot, steaming cup of coffee.

It is coffee cake after all.

Making this, I wasn’t sure if the vintage sensibilities would make it a winner for us. But it was. Hugely.

I whipped it up for a brunch with friends last weekend where the cake quickly vanished. Seriously, not a trace was left behind. Good sign, right? And it was so good that I baked another just for our family.

Back to the brunch for a second. Though I adore brunch, I don’t have people over (or go out) for it nearly enough. So I was thrilled to have a little one at my house. The brunch menu was simple — bagels and lox with all the fixings, scrambled eggs, berry and pineapple fruit salad and this Cinnamon-Sugar Coffee Cake.

In the course of the conversation, I shared that this was a vintage recipe — something dug out of my great collection of early 20th-century cookery books, pamphlets and recipe cards.

This recipe comes from the third edition of All About Home Baking, published in 1936 (the original was published in 1933) by the General Foods Corporation, a now-defunct company whose products (Calumut baking powder, Post cereals, Maxwell House Coffee and General Foods International Coffees, to name a few) live on. I bought this hardcover book off eBay a while back.

My friend asked about my interest in vintage recipes, which really got me thinking about why I have been so into pre-1960s cookery. I made this conscious decision to reclaim lost cooking techniques because I feel like as the reliance on prepared, prepackage and shortcut based cooking has grown, we’ve lost some of the skill and technique that our grandmothers and great-grandmothers used in the kitchen.

To them, making a quick coffee cake for breakfast or brunch or whatever was just that. It was simple, uncomplicated and easy.

And when I find a winner — like this coffee cake — I love to share it.

All told, this recipe for Cinnamon Sugar Coffee Cake takes about 30 minutes to make — maybe 40, if you include the cooling time. And most of that time is totally hands-off (making the dough for the cake takes maybe 5 minutes).

Be warned, instead of a batter this really makes a crumbly dough. Don’t worry if it doesn’t form a ball — you just need all the ingredients to have come together before you press it into a pan with floured hands.

And don’t change a thing about the buttery cinnamon-sugar topping. It’s the best part. (Aren’t topping always the best part?)

You can do this. Dust off that cake pan this weekend and give this Cinnamon-Sugar Coffee Cake recipe a try.

Yield: 8 servings

Cinnamon-Sugar Coffee Cake

Cinnamon-Sugar Coffee Cake

recipe from All About Home Baking, 1936

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk


  • 1 1/2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9-inch cake pan all over the inside with a little butter.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or two knives.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk until light and frothy.
  4. Pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir well until all combined. The dough will be somewhat stiff, but keep stirring until everything is incorporated.
  5. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Using floured hands, gently pat it down into one even layer.
  6. Brush the top of the coffee cake with melted butter. Then, stir together the sugar, flour and cinnamon for the topping. Sprinkle all over the top of the coffee cake.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out cleanly. Let cool for five minutes in the pan. Then, gently loosen the sides with a butter knife. Turn out onto a plate and then turn back onto a serving plate.



Friday 8th of April 2016

Hi...I've been looking all over for my grandmother's coffee cake recipe and thought I'd found it til I see that the sugar cinnamon crumb is with white sugar. The cake looks so much like it because hers was more of a bread than cake like. It was to die for. She was from Melville Saskatchewan Canada.. I was wondering if there was another recipe in that book??? thanks Carol

1930's Style Coffee Cake - the domestic fringe

Monday 1st of July 2013

[...] got this recipe from another blogger though, so you’ll have to hop on over to Sarah’s Cucina Bella for the full [...]


Tuesday 8th of January 2013

I have a recipe that my mom cut from a 1951 issue of Better Homes & Gardens. It's a light dessert and I love it. I hadn't made it for years and decided to add it to the Thanksgiving menu a few years ago. When I checked the ingredients, I was shocked to realize that with the exception of lemon juice, it was all packaged ingredients.

I've been looking for a coffee cake recipe like this. Thanks!


Sunday 22nd of January 2012

I have never tasted a coffee cake I didnt think was amazing, I think that this will be another that I really like!


Saturday 21st of January 2012

I'm generally pretty dubious of vintage recipes...I feel like tastes were a lot different back in the day. But I wouldn't have had any doubts about this cake. Anything cinnamon sugar has to be rockstar.

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