Swept up in Olympic spirit, we decided to have a little gracious competition of our own. My quest to duplicate a coffee cake that a friend once brought to our river home fanned this Olympic flame. That coffee cake was the best I’ve ever had, but sadly the recipe is not to be shared – I’ve asked for it twice!
My friend received the recipe from an unnamed source (I suspect she is a Gracious Posse reader) who shared it on the condition that it not be given out. Evidently it is one of those closely-held family/state secrets. I respect her restraint, but disappointment doesn’t begin to convey my feelings. The coffee cake was that good.
For our competition, Alison and I baked four different coffee cakes. We held the contest at a small gathering to celebrate kMg‘s birthday. Check out our fork-by-fork analysis for each. Our criteria for judging each coffee cake were
- taste (multiplied by 2)
- ease of preparation
We measured each criterion on a pearl scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best. Then pearls were added together for the overall score or each cake, and medals were awarded accordingly. Recipes for the medal-winning cakes appear at the bottom of this post.
Let the competition begin!
Oatmeal Coffee Cake
Up first, this yummy twist on the coffee cake hails from Georgia Bed & Breakfast Cookbook. It’s tagline is Recipes from the Warmth & Hospitality of Georgia B&B’s and Historic Inns. I was quite confident that I would find something competitive from the folks who are pros in the hospitality business. We were not disappointed, though Alison thinks the cake would score more pearls with some chopped apples or raisins thrown in the batter.Taste Appearance Ease of Preparation Overall: 24
Sour Cream Coffee Cake
This traditional entry also goes by the name of Texas Coffee Cake. The recipe I used comes from Tea-Time at the Masters from The Junior League of Augusta, Georgia. It easily outpaced the first competitor.Taste Appearance Ease of Preparation Overall: 32
Gingerbread Coffee Cake with Cranberry Pecan Streusel
Alison ran across this interesting recipe on the Willow Bird Baking blog. She modified the baking time a bit because she didn’t have a 9″ square baking dish called for in the recipe. It wasn’t necessary as the cake turned out too dry. Though the recipe sounded delicious, it contained too many steps and ingredients for a small coffee cake, causing it to finish off the medal stand.Taste Appearance Ease of Preparation Overall: 19
Gâteau du Café
Our final entry also hails from the Georgia Bed & Breakfast Cookbook. I decided to try this cake because the recipe includes raw sugar and simply bakes in one small cake pan. Our judges didn’t leave a crumb of this buttery treat.Taste Appearance Ease of Preparation Overall: 35
The taste scores were ultimately decided by how much of each cake was consumed over our weekend getaway. Since we didn’t duplicate the elusive coffee cake, none earned a perfect score of 40, but we did find new and different twists on the venerable sweet.
Do you have a favorite coffee cake recipe to enter into our next competition? Maybe it’s the object of my on-going pursuit. Please share!
- 1 ¼ cup boiling water
- 1 cup oatmeal
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup shortening
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup condensed milk
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup pecans or walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13-inch pan. In a large bow, mix together boiling water and oatmeal; set aside. In a separate large bowl, cream together shortening and sugars. Add in the eggs and oatmeal and mix to combine. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add dry mixture to the oatmeal mixture and combine thoroughly. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 30-35 minutes.
- For the topping: While the cake is baking, melt together all of the topping ingredients in a skillet over medium heat. Once the cake is done, spread the topping over the top and place under the broiler just long enough to brown. Watch the cake carefully as the topping can burn quite easily.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups sifted cake flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition. Fold in sour cream and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients and add to mixture. Put half the batter in a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Sprinkle half of topping over batter. Add remaining batter. Add remaining topping. Bake for 55-60 minutes. Cool thoroughly before removing from the pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar in the raw
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 3/4 cup whole milk (a little warm)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (King Arthur Brand recommended)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, must be cold
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup sugar in the raw
- Pinch sea salt
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and milk and add to the butter mixture. Add the vanilla and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl so that everything is fully incorporated. In a medium bowl, sift together dry ingredients; add to wet mixture in two parts, making sure that all ingredients are well combined. Pour the batter into a buttered 9-inch cake pan. Scatter the topping over the cake and bake approximately 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes away clean.
- For the topping: Place flour and sugar in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter and "sand," or crumble together with your fingers, until small pieces are made, but the butter does not melt or warm.