St. Timothy’s Coffee Cake

cropped-timothy-coffee-cake-header-raw1.jpgBrother Aidan Owen carries on his grandmother’s tradition of making coffee cakes during this time of year:

“Along with her equally famous rum cake, my grandmother used to make dozens of these cakes each Advent and Christmas. One year we counted 65 cakes! Everyone seemed to want one. I can remember her saying, ‘I don’t know why everyone goes crazy over this cake. It’s just a plain old coffee cake.’ In some ways she was completely right, but there really is something heavenly about it.

My favorite part was always the flaky top of the cake, crunchy from the cinnamon-sugar. I’d break off small pieces of it when my grandmother’s back was turned. When she saw the pieces missing from her cakes, she’d threaten to come after me with her wooden spoon. But there was always a smile in her voice that belied her threat.

Making these cakes together became a tradition for us. My grandmother has since gone to glory, but when I make one of these cakes, she’s right by my side again.”

Make ye straight what long was crooked,
Make the rougher places plain,
Let your hearts be true and humble,
As befits His holy reign;
For the glory of the Lord
Now o’er earth is shed abroad,
And all flesh shall fee the token
That His Word is never broken. ~ Johannes Olearius (1611-1684)

St. Timothy’s Coffee Cake


  • 2 sticks butter (softened at room temperature)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 cups unsifted flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (pecans work best)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • cinnamon-sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a bundt pan. It’s a nice touch to add cinnamon to your flour for this step.

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Add nuts and raisins and coat well. Set aside.

Cream butter until light and fluffy.

Add sugar gradually and continue to cream.  Blend in vanilla.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.

Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream.  Blend well. The batter will look like whipped cream tinged with honey.

Turn batter into Bundt pan.  Sprinkle the top of the batter with cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Bake for 60 minutes or until cake tests done.

Leave in pan for at least one hour before turning out.  Turn out and sprinkle with more cinnamon-sugar.

Submitted by: Brother Aidan Owen, Order of the Holy Cross

For a downloadable/printable version of this recipe, visit:

Tomorrow: Soup Joumou


Coffee Cake

coffee-cake-pictureLooking to give something from your heart and hands this Christmas? Try Betsy Elkins’ Coffee Cake. Here’s her coffee cake tradition:

“I bake coffee cakes throughout Advent in preparation for Christmas!  I do this because my mother did and I enjoy continuing the tradition.   The recipe for these cakes came with Mom’s new freezer in 1952.  The recipe makes two cakes, it is easily doubled, tripled, etc. and the cakes freeze well. (I make at least 60 cakes each Advent.) Today with the use of a food processor for certain steps it is easier than ever, despite the hours involved!  Mom made cakes for all our friends, neighbors and colleagues and I do the same.  A coffee cake for breakfast on Christmas morning has become a tradition now for many people.

Making coffee cakes as part of my Christmas preparation reminds me of my childhood, my family, friends, old and new.  Baking helps keep me focused on others as I prepare these cakes.  I would rather spend many cozy hours in my kitchen making cakes with my husband for our friends, than shopping in the malls or online for things no one needs.  Making coffee cakes during Advent keeps me focused on the season.  It is best when I have my grandchildren with me to help.”

Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart ~ Acts 2:46

Coffee Cake Recipe
Makes two 9” cakes

Ingredients for crumb topping: (mixing all in a food processor works very well)

  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ cup of flour
  • ½ stick of margarine or butter
  • 1 cup of nuts

Ingredients for cake:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 8 tbsp shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Grease and flour two cake pans (9 inch)

Prepare crumb topping

Sift together dry ingredients for cake: flour, sugar, salt and baking powder

Cut in the shortening, OR toss all in food processor and mix quickly.

Beat together in a small bowl: eggs, milk and vanilla.  Mix into the dry ingredients above.

Divide half of this batter between two of the pans and spread evenly over the bottom.

Sprinkle half of the crumb topping over the two pans.  Repeat with the rest of the batter and cover with the remaining crumb topping

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes—test to be sure it is cooked completely.

Cool completely before removing the cakes from the pan.  These cakes freeze very well.

Submitted by: Betsy Elkins, St. Paul’s Church, Syracuse, NY

For a downloadable/printable version of this recipe, visit:

Tomorrow: Salvadoran Pupusas