Food You Can Eat: Buttermilk Coffee Cake

There's eggs and dairy in this recipe, which means it's not dessert

Breakfast is served.

First things first:  My plan for the family cookbook is to have it ready to go by Christmas.  However, at the rate I’m going with validating the recipes, I’m not going to make it in time.  So, I’m doubling up now, working on desserts and breakfast recipes at the same time.  Mrs. Butcher is looking at me rather askance because of all the cake I’ve been eating recently, but no sacrifice is too great.  This is for the good of humanity.

A caveat before we get started:  I wish my grandmother were alive for a whole host of reasons—not the least of which being so that I could ask her what alternate reality she lived in where these recipes are stating baking times which are literally half the time needed.  This recipe says “30-40 minutes” but it took a straight hour, and this is easily the 10th recipe I’ve done where the times aren’t even close.

Here’s what you’ll need:


1 ½ Cups Sugar

½ Cup Shortening, room temp

2 Eggs

1 ½ Cups Buttermilk

2 ½ Cups Flour

½ tsp Baking Powder

1 tsp. Baking Soda

1 tsp. Vanilla

Pinch of Salt


¾ Cup Sugar

¾ Cup Flour

1 Stick Butter

2 tsp. Cinnamon

Cream together shortening and sugar, pouring sugar in a steady stream.  Add eggs and buttermilk.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula, then mix again until fully incorporated.  Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla and salt.  When mixed, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides again with the rubber spatula and mix again until smooth. Do not sift the flour for this recipe.  Coffee cakes should be fairly dense.

Your untrained eyes can’t tell, but this is a much denser batter than those with sifted flour.

Pour batter into a greased 9 x 13 pan. 

Mix together sugar, flour and cinnamon for topping.  Cut in butter with a pastry cutter.  Spread mixture over the cake batter.

If you don’t have a pastry cutter, do yourself a favor and get one. You can’t get results like this with a fork.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30-40 minutes an hour, because we live in the real world.  Use a knife instead of a toothpick to test doneness, because the topping will scrape the toothpick clean.

This is my breakfast for the week. I will give of myself so that you may know the Truth.

I know this is a recipe for coffee cake, but I fucking hate coffee.  So, I’m upping my milk intake this week.

About butcherbakertoiletrymaker 557 Articles
When you can walk its length, and leave no trace, you will have learned.


  1. That baking time thing is so interesting. What are the possibilities? Poorly calibrated oven? Ovens used to cook hotter? What do you think?

    • …two possible answers…both of which are a stretch to believe but could be true if it were a member of my family who were responsible

      …one possibility is that the window (in this case 30-40mins) is the time when it’s okay to check & seen if the cake is done…before the first time opening the oven runs the risk of stopping the cake rising properly (no idea if this is true but heard it a lot as a kid) & the later time it still won’t be burnt so there’s no rush…from there on out you just check every few minutes until “it looks right”

      …the second possibility is that the lady who wrote the recipes had been using the same clockwork kitchen timer for long enough for the spring to degrade…so the times are in fact accurate…provided you are using that exact timer

      …who knows what the real answer is…but weirder things have proven to be true in my experience?

      • I forgot about the need to use kitchen timers – that could be it!

    • Altitude?  

      • I doubt that it’s altitude because we’re at roughly the same elevation here.  Mrs. Butcher’s theory is that it’s a combination of gas vs electric ovens, poor temperature calibration with old ovens, and poor calibration of timers.  That’s a lot of shit to go wrong all at once, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

  2. Scrummy!

  3. The condo I grew up in was built in 1966 and the stove I think was original. My mom’s (1976) orange Betty Crocker cookbook had all these little notes about actual cook times because that oven ran fucking HOT. Like cookies that were supposed to be baked 10-12 mins would be burnt at 9 minutes unless we dropped the temp 25 degrees or more.  It also baked completely unevenly so anything temperamental (cheesecake, pies with merengue) was always a situation of OMG BABY IT AND WATCH IT LIKE A HAWK.

  4. Also I love a slab of coffee cake with milk or hot tea. Coffee is totally not required!

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