Coffee Cake

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Coffee Cake

John Gihlstorf uses this old family recipe to make coffee cakes in various configurations as well as sweet breakfast rolls. One recipe will make approximately three coffee cakes or two dozen rolls. Leftovers freeze well.

Yield: 3 coffee cakes or 2 dozen rolls.


  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 cups warm milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup shortening or margarine
  • 7 to 7-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon mixed with 1/2 cup sugar


In a large mixing bowl sprinkle the yeast and sugar onto the water. Stir in the milk, sugar, salt, eggs, shortening, and enough of the flour to form a stiff dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Place the dough in a covered greased bowl or pan and let rise until doubled. Divide the dough into 1-1/2-pound parts (you'll get three pieces plus a little left over for sweet rolls) or simply divide the dough into thirds. Roll each portion into a 12-inch circle. Butter and sprinkle the rounds with the cinnamon and sugar mix and divide into 6 triangles. Roll each into a crescent. Moisten ends of each crescent with tap water and join crescents into a ring on a greased cookie sheet (each crescent should be facing with its "tongue" pointing out). Let rise until doubled. Bake in 350 degree F oven for 20 minutes. Cool on a rack. Blend frosting ingredients and frost cakes then sprinkle with chopped pecans.
For sweet rolls, prepare dough as for coffee cake. Divide the dough into thirds and roll each into an 8x12-inch rectangle. Butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mix. Roll each rectangle up like a jelly roll. Moisten the long seam and pinch to seal. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Place on a baking sheet and press flat with the palm of your hand. Let rise until double. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown. Cool and spread with frosting. Press each roll, frosted side down, into bowl of chopped dry-roasted peanuts.

For the frosting:


  • 1 pound superfine confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

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