Cinnamon Coffee Cake From My Grandmother's Recipe Book

Although I'm too young to remember her, I'm told that my dad's mother and I would have been great friends.  She was an artist, a Holocaust survivor, and the one who influenced my family to put sprinkles on unconventional things.

Recently we dug up my dad's mother's recipe book.  I'm calling her my dad's mother because I'm pretty close with my grandparents on my mom's side and I don't want to seem like I'm miffing my Grandma on my mom's side.  But I'm weird.  I'll refer to her as my grandmother now.

Anywho.  According to my parents, my grandmother wasn't big into cooking.  But she had a beautiful red notebook filled with recipes- recipes cut out from 1960s newspapers and taped onto the pages, recipes scribbled in fading pencil and blotchy pens, recipes clacked by typewriter onto index cards, Dutch words mixing with English.  I imagine her coaxing her friends into telling her their recipes over the phone or at a dinner party. 

I wanted to make something from her book, and after a great deal of debate, I decided on a cinnamon coffee cake.

The first ingredient in the recipe was Duncan Hines Butter Cake mix.  I don't know if you've met me, but I don't do anything the easy way if I can do it the hard way, and I don't use a mix when I can make then danged thing myself.  So I enlisted my awesome mom to help make Betty Crocker's Bonnie Butter Cake while still using the rest of the ingredients in my grandmother's recipe.

The recipe we used was:

2 cups sugar
2/3 cup butter
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups milk
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup pecans -- My grandmother's recipe called for walnuts, but this is the south and we had pecans.

Grease and flour a bundt pan.
(Besides the variations in ingredients, the following directions are pretty much verbatim from the Betty Crocker recipe.  They are fully Betty Crocker's, please don't sue me): Heat the oven to 350 F.  Mix sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla until fluffy.  Beat on high speed, scraping bowl occasionally, five minutes.  Beat in flour, baking powder alternately with milk and sour cream on low speed.

(The following are per my grandmother's directions):  Pour half the batter into the bundt pan.
Mix cinnamon, brown sugar, and nuts in a separate bowl.  Sprinkle over top of the batter.  Add the rest of the batter over top.

With the nuts on top.
(Back to Betty Crocker.)  Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes (will probably need more); cool.

Before the day we made the Cinnamon Coffee Cake, a cake had never been made in my house that was not chocolate.  If there was ever a cake to break that record, this should be the one.  It's moist, sweet but not overly so, and has just the right interlude of spices.  While it couples well with its namesake coffee, it's enjoyable by itself, although it also pairs nicely with ice cream or chamomile tea.
With coffee ice cream
And sprinkles, of course!

Not only did we get a delicious cake, but making it was a cool way to connect with a relative I've ever met.  If you make it, tell me!  In the comments or by tagging me on Facebook or Instagram @theblerghblog.

World peace and love,

Heather <3

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