Mary B.’s Coffee Cake

"grammy and grampy thompson

Grammy & Grampy Thompson

My cooking memories of Grammy Thompson are fewer than those I have with Grammy Caldwell for the simple reason that we didn’t live as close to her. Though their numbers are less, the recipes I do have from her are nonetheless precious. As far as I (and many of my family) am concerned one of her signature recipes was her coffee cake. My siblings, cousins, and I call it Mary B.’s Coffee Cake for Mary Brock Thompson. Grammy T. and her children called it Phyllis Marrin’s Coffee Cake after the woman in Grammy’s bridge club who originally shared the recipe with her, while my nephews and niece refer to it as Marcy’s Coffee Cake after my Mom, whom they call Marcy (and sometimes Grammy). I guess what you call it is all about the cook you tasted it first from.

"Mary B.'s coffee cake

Mary B.'s Coffee Cake

Regardless of how you refer to this coffee cake it is a staple at our house for Christmas Day. This past Christmas Isabelle became the queen of coffee cake making since the guys and I were all sick with pneumonia. Bella baked us the requisite Christmas morning coffee cake, and then because we gobbled it up so fast she made us another a few days later, and one more for New Year’s. She was on a roll so she also made one for her boyfriend, and took one as a Christmas present to another friend. They do make wonderful gifts for people. My mother made one for my nephew Bennett’s birthday last year and it was such a hit she went on to make one for each of the three grandchildren who live down the street from her (see what I mean about proximity bringing food blessings?) as one of their Christmas presents. Nathan, Bennett, and Avery couldn’t have been happier.

Mary B.’s Coffee Cake

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup vegetable shortening (or you can use all butter)

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 cup flour

1 cup sour cream (you can use low fat or greek yogurt, but not no fat)

2/3 cup cinnamon sugar (3 Tablespoons cinnamon with sugar to make 2/3 cup)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease an 8″ x 8″ pan and set aside. Cream butter, vegetable shortening, and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, then add the vanilla. Beat in the baking powder, baking soda, and 1/2 cup of flour. Alternate mixing in the sour cream and the rest of the flour, beating well after each addition. Plop slightly more than half the into the prepared pan. Sprinkle on 1/3 cup of the cinnamon sugar then carefully drop the remaining batter evenly across the cinnamon sugar. Don’t try to spread it as it will just roll around in the cinnamon sugar. You’ll have more success if you drop it by spoonfuls then nudge the batter to touch the edges of the pan, where it will stick and stay. Sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar on top and bake for 55-60 minutes. Cool as long as you can resist the amazing aroma.

If you are giving this as a gift I would suggest lining the pan with foil (leaving some to hang over the edge) so you can simple bake, cool, then lift out and wrap in the foil it was baked in. If you try to shift a cake baked directly in the pan the cinnamon sugar on top will fall off.

"sandwiching cinnamon sugar in batter"

Sandwiching the cinnamon sugar in the middle of the batter

"coffeecake ready to bake"

More cinnamon sugar on top and ready to bake

"coffee cake"

Waiting for it to cool


Filed under 50 Recipes

7 responses to “Mary B.’s Coffee Cake

  1. alexis

    Happy New year! What a great aluminum foil idea! And I can’t wait to try the coffee cake. Love AA

    • Happy New Year to you too!
      I find the aluminum foil fits easily if you turn the pan upside down and press the foil over it. Then just lift it up and it is “pre-molded” to fit nearly perfectly on the inside of the pan. Just a few tucks and presses are needed.

  2. Allison Miler-Solomon

    I remember your mom made it when Mikey & I came to Manlius, i think she made 2 & I gobbled almost 1 whole one before it was even cut & served.

  3. Heather Caldwell

    Hi my sister! Since I could not get home this year for Christmas, I made this coffee cake for the first time ever. My attempt was good, but not great. My “crumb” was not half as moist and yummy as mom’s, nor was it as yellow. I bought organic shortening – could that have been the problem? So great to have pieces in the blog on both the Grammies.

    • Hey Sis! I’ve switched over to organic shortening too, so I don’t think that was the problem. I’ve tried this recipe beating the batter by hand, using a hand mixer, as well as making it with a stand mixer. I have to say that the softest crumb seemed to come from the hand mixer, though in reality they all should be pretty equal. The other thing is to do a fair amount of beating, but mostly to the butter, shortening, sugar and eggs. The other change I made was I use a lot more cinnamon sugar than Mom or Grammy use/d. Regarding the yellowness that will come from the color of your butter and egg yolks. My advise is to make it again! 😉

  4. bellegroveatportconway

    I really enjoyed your post! I am opening a bed and breakfast on the historic property where James Madison was born soon. So I am always on the lookout for good ideas for breakfast. I look forward to your future post!

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