Pennsylvania Dutch Coffee Cake

With cinnamon, brown sugar, and buttermilk.

Compare this version from the October 18, 1977 edition of The (Dover, Ohio) Times-Reporter:

Pennsylvania Dutch Coffee Cake

1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 pint sour cream
6 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup chopped nuts
[2 cups sifted flour]

Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition. Sift flour, baking powder and soda together and add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. Blend well after each addition. Add vanilla. Spread half the batter into a greased angel-food or 10-inch tube pan after lining bottom with wax paper. Combine all other ingredients and sprinkle half over batter. Cover with remaining batter and top with remaining topping. Bake about 50 minutes at 350 degrees.

Mrs. Donna J. Snyder
370 4th st. NW
New Philadelphia

Edited December 1, 2014: In the comments, Evelyn had a good catch… there’s no flour in Donna Snyder’s recipe! Sorry about that! I added the correct amount above, but here’s the explanation as to why I think that’s the correct amount.

I confess, I was so focused on thanksgiving preparation when I retyped Donna Snyder’s recipe that I completely failed to notice that the newspaper didn’t specify the amount of flour in it! So I went back and looked in the The (Dover, Ohio) Times-Reporter, and as far as I can tell, they never printed a correction. That said, two other coffee cake recipes in the same edition called for two cups of flour, so I thought that might’ve been close.

I’m pretty sure it’s the right measure, now, given this recipe from the January 25, 1972 of The (Hamilton, Ohio) Journal-News:

Angie’s Coffee Cake

1/2 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
2 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 pint commercial sour cream
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup chopped nuts

Cream the butter; gradually add sugar, and cream well together. Stir in vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time; beat well. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Add alternately sour cream mixed together to dry ingredients; mix well. In small bowl mix the 4 last ingredients. Bake in a tubular pan that has been greased and lined on bottom with wax paper, in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Pour half of batter into pan, cover with half of sugar nut mixture; pour remaining batter; lastly, cover with remaining sugar nut mixture. After baking and cooling 15 minutes, I dribble Easy Icing over the cake.

Easy Penuche Icing

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar packed)
2 Tablespoons milk
1 cup confectioners sugar

Melt butter in saucepan. Add brown sugar. Boil over low heat for 2 minutes. Stirring constantly. Stir in milk. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Cool to lukewarm. Gradually add confectioners sugar. Beat until thick enough to spread. If icing becomes too stiff, add a little hot water.

Angie Nelson
1015 Kingston Drive
Hamilton, Ohio

Thanks again to Evelyn for making sure the recipes are really getting rescued!

From a box sold in Adams, Minnesota, with ephemera from Ohio.

Pennsylvania Dutch Coffeecake

4 c. flour
2 Tbsp. baking powder
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter or oleo

Blend and reserve 1/2 c. for topping. Add to remaining dry ingredients:

  • 2 c. sour or buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt

Pour batter into 3 greased 9-inch cake pans. Melt 1/2 c. butter; divide into thirds and pour over top of cakes.

Add 3/4 c. brown sugar (packed) to reserved 1/2 c. flour mixture. Divide into thirds and sprinkle over cakes. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake 350 deg. for 30 minutes. Can be frozen after baking.

Annalee Broadbeck


  1. Evelyn

    Donna Snyder’s recipe does not have any flour?

    • Whoops–good catch! I updated the recipe and added another that explains why I think this is the right amount, but I’m pretty sure it’s intended to use two cups of flour. Thank you so much for the heads-up!

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