Contestant, Wisconsin State Fair, 2013


Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance



Wisconsin State Fair

August 4, 2013




Grandma Great’s Prize Coffee Cake

Stephanie Paul, Butler, Wisconsin


Every time my family gets together for anything you can call a “brunch”, we have Coffee Cake. The recipe for coffee cake has always been in this tattered old notebook, which also boasts other recipes, such as “Sunday Fried Chicken” and “Banana Cream Torte”. I grew up helping my mom make the Coffee Cake ­by far the most used recipe in the entire notebook. As I got older, I learned that the recipes, while written down by mom, contained the family’s ancient recipes. The Coffee Cake was handed down to my mom by her Grandmother-In-Law, or Grandma Great.


I was lucky – I got to know my Grandma Great very well. Whenever she came to visit my Grandparents, we’d go for a walk around the neighborhood. One day I remember, sitting in the car talking with her when all of a sudden, her teeth popped out! After a split, shocking, second, we both just melted into uncontrollable laughter. I will never forget that moment with her. It really speaks to her character – turning uncomfortable situations around with humor.


Most of the recipes in my Mom’s tattered notebook came from her. She was known to be a very good cook. Although, she was also known for serving up weird food (frog legs anyone??) and, when asked, saying it was “chicken”. According to my Mom, everyone knew to be worried when she said chicken! My Grandfather used to say that he never knew that real chicken had bones until he met my Grandma and her Mom. His mom couldn’t even boil water! In the last months of his life, he suffered strokes, and would have to visit the hospital. We had just taken the Coffee Cake out of the oven as he was rolled by. I think he was more upset about missing the cake than the hospital visit! I made him another one when he was able to come back home.


The recipe is so popular, that a second column of numbers was written down next to the first column. The second column was added out of necessity – too many people wanted the Coffee Cake, so the second column was added with the doubled ingredients. My first time making this recipe, I didn’t realize that it had the two columns, and I ended up making the double batch in a single pan! And even thought the middle was hardly cooked, it was still gone (behold the power of the SPOON!)


So this is my Grandma Great’s Prize Coffee Cake. The family’s favorite go-to recipe. Everyone has a copy, and has threatened to the death anyone who dares change it. Well, the one change that everyone does is to double the cinnamon streusel topping – that’s ok to double, but beyond that, forget it!



Grandma Great’s Prize Coffee Cake

Stephanie Paul, Butler, Wisconsin



.75 stick softened butter

1.5 cup sugar

2 eggs

4 tsp baking powder

3 cups milk

1 tsp salt

1 cup milk



2 cups brown sugar

2.5 cups flour

1.5 stick cold butter

2 tsp cinnamon



.33 cup milk

1 cup powdered sugar

.5 tsp vanilla


1. Cream butter


2. Add sugar and eggs and mix well.


3. Mix flour, salt, baking powder in a separate bowl


4. Alternate with milk, and add to batter


5. Spray 9×13 pan with Baker’s Joy (flour/oil mixture)


6. Spread half the cake batter in pan


7. Use a fork and cut butter into streusel mixture


8. Spread half the streusel mixture over cake


9. Spread the rest of the batter over the streusel mixture (batter is thick, best to put spoonfuls of batter all over the pan and “connect the dots”)


10. Spread rest of streusel over the cake


11. Bake on 375 for 25-35 minutes


12. While baking, whisk together glaze ingredients


13. As soon as cake comes out of oven, pour glaze over the top of it and let cool.


Serves 12