Moist and delicious, this brown sugar Cowboy Coffee Cake Recipe is one of the easiest things you’ll ever bake! It is one of those old school recipes made with simple pantry staples.
It comes out perfect every time and feeds a crowd, so it’s great for gatherings with family and friends. Let’s bake!
Why is it called Cowboy Coffee Cake?
Let’s get the burning question out of the way first. There is no coffee or cowboys in this cake. I know, ladies, I was disappointed too.
Turns out, nobody really knows why the original recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook circa 1950 was named Cowboy Coffee Cake. All we know is that it’s one of those great recipes that has stood the test of time.
The original Cowboy Coffee Cake recipe and the variations that have followed all have a few basic things in common:
- they’re made only with brown sugar (very little or no granulated white sugar)
- they use “sour milk” (now more commonly called buttermilk)
- they have a crumb topping that’s made by scooping a cup of the cake ingredients and setting them aside for sprinkling on top
What’s in this Cowboy Coffee Cake Recipe
You can’t get more simple than this! Here’s what you’ll need:
- All-purpose flour
- Butter (Some versions of this recipe call for shortening instead of butter, which you can substitute in equal measurements)
- Brown sugar
- Buttermilk (If you’re substituting sour cream for buttermilk, use 1 cup of sour cream + 1/4 cup of water)
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
How to Make Cowboy Coffee Cake
In the original cowboy coffeecake recipe, you would work the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter until you had coarse crumbs. Then, you’d take a cup of crumbs and set them aside for the topping, while using the remaining crumbs for the cake batter.
In this particular cowboy coffee cake recipe, we’re going a bit more traditional. First, whip the butter and brown sugar together.
Then, add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk until everything is combined. That’s your cake batter.
Instead of taking from the cake ingredients, we’re making the crumb topping separately because one little cup of crumbs just isn’t enough. And we’re using melted butter instead of cold butter or butter at room temperature.
Why? Because making a crumb topping with melted butter yields a more tender crumb that will sit on top of the cake better without sinking in.
After the cake has cooled, drizzle it with the simple vanilla glaze.
Additions and Variations for Cowboy Coffee Cake
There’s nothing more classic than this coffee cake recipe. It’s so easy that you can whip it up any time! If you’re celebrating special occasions or if you just want to jazz it up a bit, here are some ideas:
- Fruit fillings. Swirl in some raspberry preserves or a cup of fresh blueberries for a summery twist.
- Nuts. Add chopped pecans or walnuts to the crumb topping for great texture and flavor.
- Glazes. I love the vanilla glaze for it’s simplicity, but you could stir in a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg or even pumpkin pie spice in the fall months.
How to Serve Cowboy Coffee Cake
This is the perfect recipe for when you want to feed a crowd. Using a 9×13 pan will yield 12 generous pieces of cake. Serve this cake at breakfast time or for dessert.
How to Store Cowboy Coffee Cake
Wrap left over cake tightly in plastic wrap and then place it into a freezer bag or airtight container for storage. To make things easier for the second time you want to enjoy this cake, wrap it in individual pieces.
Warm it in a preheated oven or in the microwave.
I hope you love this slightly updated old recipe that’s sure to become a classic in your own personal cookbook!
And when you make this Cowboy Coffee Cake recipe, I’d love to hear about it. Drop a rating or leave a comment below. Enjoy!
For more coffee cake recipes, try these:
For more easy baking ideas, try these:
Best Ever Cowboy Coffee Cake Recipe with Buttermilk
- 2 cups all-purpose or gluten free flour
- 1 stick unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose or gluten free flour
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 stick unsalted butter melted
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/3 cups confectioner's sugar
- 2 1/2 Tbsp. milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9×13 cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at at time, until smooth.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Beat the flour mixture into the wet ingredients alternately with the buttermilk. Pour the batter into the cake pan.
- Make the crumb topping: combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the cake batter. Bake 40 minutes.
- Make the glaze: whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Drizzle over the cooled cake before serving.
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