Prize Coffee Cake


Coffee Cake Cooling

One of my goals in life is to win a blue ribbon at a county fair. Dead serious.

I have no experience with State Fairs aside from the Rogers and Hamerstein movie, so they don't particularly interest me. But as a kid I lived in the county seat - so I had to go to the fair a lot. I'm sure this isn't actually the case, but it seemed as though we had three or so major fairs at the Napa Valley Expo center a year and I was at pretty much every one.

First there were the educational fairs. There was the one my modeling clay mission was displayed at amoungst the hundreds of other missions of the pasta, cardboard, and/or lego varieties. There was the fair that they had the city-wide science fair at: my experiment on the water purifying abilities of the sun didn't even place. There was the year I volunteered to do an anti-drug puppet show at, only to find upon arrival that the "booth" contained no puppet stage and I spent several hours sitting under a table teaching kids to "Just Say No," while the woman at the next table urged people to vote no on proposition 9.

And then there was the Town and Country fair where the 4-H kids strutted their hogs and the quilts and jams were on proud display. There were games: a friend once won a guppie and then passed it off on a happy little girl and her less than happy parents; there was food: corn dogs and funnel galore! There were the rides that only one year I was allowed to ride, which included a fun house/maze that I raced though only to be incredibly disappointed when I came out the other side that I hadn't spent more time.

But missions and guppies aside, the real reason I went to fair after fair was to dance.

Anything Goes

Not at the Fair, but you get the idea. (That's me in the far right, front row)

From approximately 1988 to 2001 I was made to put on my tutu and blue eye shadow and dance with my classes in tap, jazz or ballet. The stage was unforgiving concrete and it was always devilishly hot. One year my teacher told us not to bother with wearing foundation, it'd just melt it off. I love dancing, but I hated dancing at the fair, it was uncomfortable and there was a good chance someone I did not want seeing me in a leotard would stroll by during my performance (and several have).

Spandex and sequin trauma aside, I always like the craft, food, and animal displays and I still hope to win a ribbon of my own some day.

Coffee Cake and Sausage

This particular recipe won a ribbon for my family once upon a time (though the recipe card always said "prize" so I have no idea which prize it won - but if anyone in the family wants to clarify that'd be great) and so after that long introduction, I give you:

Prize Coffee Cake:


  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup butter or shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup milk


  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbl melted butter
  • 2 Tbl flour
  • 2 TBl cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease and flour a 9"x9" pan. 

Mix together sugar, butter, and egg to make butter cream. It may look good, but do not sample - it tastes terrible as a college roommate of mine discovered. Add milk and mix.

In a separate bowl, blend flour, baking powder and salt. Add dry mix to butter cream. Pour into pan.

Mix together topping ingredients. If necessary add a little more melted butter until it clumps, but we wary- too much butter will cause the topping to turn molten and sink into the batter instead of staying nice and crispy on top.  Sprinkle topping on top of the batter.

Bake 25-35 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Recipe doubles well, just add 5-10 minutes cooking time for a 9"x18" pan. 

Breakfast Aftermath

Surprise sleepy folks with coffee cake, eat all the crumbs.

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