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Cowboy Coffee Cake: A Family Favorite

I'll go ahead and get a few things out there. First, I don't know why it's called Cowboy Coffee Cake. Not sure what makes it particularly "cowboyish", but it's a fun alliterative name at the very least. Second, if you're looking for a healthy breakfast option, this is not the recipe for you. However, if you want something delicious, that will make your house smell amazing, and is pretty simple to make, read on!

Family Tradition

I grew up eating this coffee cake and now we've made it a family tradition in our house. We made it our Christmas Morning Breakfast a few years ago and I celebrate how much easier it is to throw together on that busiest of mornings than the cinnamon rolls we use to make. WIN!

Getting Started

The first step is mixing together the flour, brown sugar, and salt. Then you cut in your shortening. Do you have one of these pastry cutters? If you ever make pie crust, or if you're going to give this recipe a try, grab one! It makes cutting in the butter or shortening so much faster. When I was younger and foolish I once used two butter knives to try and cut in the butter to a pie crust. What a nightmare.

Anyway, you want to cut it in until the ingredients resemble coarse crumbs. You don't want huge chunks of shortening, but it's okay to have bits. Plus they'll start sticking together a bit, so it will look like you have some bigger chunks than you really do. Then you scoop out a 1/2 cup, and put it to the side.

Spice it Up!

Next you add your spices. This is where things start to smell good! You grab the cinnamon and nutmeg, as well as the baking powder and baking soda. Stir up your ingredients so it's well mixed.

Then come the wet ingredients: eggs and buttermilk. If you don't have buttermilk you can also use "sour milk" which is made by putting 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup and pouring in milk up to the 1 cup line. Sounds weird, but it works! Mix well, until you don't see any dry bits. It's okay to still have some lumps, it'll work out, I promise.


Pour into your pan and top with the reserved 1/2 cup of flour mixture. You can bake in a variety of different pans, depending on who you're serving. Originally the recipe called for two 8 or 9-inch round pans, and that is how I always made it. You want to spray and flour those before pouring in your batter. Lately, after the suggestion of my husband, I've been using a 13x9 baking pan. It takes a little longer to bake, but it is a little easier to serve and store extras this way. Additionally, I've made muffins with the batter before, so that works too. See, a versatile recipe! If you are baking to share with others outside of your household, I suggest the rounds or muffins so it's easier to divide and deliver.

Bake in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, following the cook time for whichever pan you chose. As it bakes, your house will take on a heavenly smell that will make even the grumpiest morning grump smile. Once it's done baking, pull it out, cut it up, and serve to your happy family/roommates/guests. We prefer to eat it warm, cut in half with a little butter. Enjoy!

What recipes do you make that you've pulled from your childhood?


Cowboy Coffee Cake

12-16 Servings


2 1/2 cups All-Purpose flour

2 cups brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup shortening

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup buttermilk or sour milk

2 beaten eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in the shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; reserve 1/2 cup for topping. To remaining crumbs, add baking powder, baking soda, and spices; mix well. Add milk and eggs; mix well until wet. Turn into greased 13x9 inch baking pan (or 2 8-9 inch rounds (greased and floured), or muffin pan (use liners)).

Bake at 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes (13x9), 25-30 minutes (rounds), 15-20 minutes (muffins). Serve warm.

Note: To make sour milk, take 1 Tablespoon lemon juice and add milk for total amount of 1 cup.

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