How many recipes from your childhood are you still making today? I call those “retro” recipes. Webster describes retro as “pleasantly reminiscent of an earlier time” which sounds far better than old and frumpy. Even though this coffee ring recipe is nothing new, I’ve yet to find the person of any age who doesn’t like it. Or who makes it. The original recipe was undoubtedly clipped off the front of a box of Grape Nuts cereal by mother, circa 1963. (I still have that original cardboard recipe.) If you’re younger and think that sounds weird, well, it’s just how it was. Ladies back then clipped coupons wherever they found them, and they were often on boxes of the product called for in recipes. You didn’t throw your cereal (or any) boxes in the recycling bin (umm, what’s that?) without first clipping out what you wanted. Nope. You got out scissors and put that treasure on your Pinterest board-I mean, in your recipe box. Did your friend want your recipe? If she did, she called you on her rotary-dial phone and you patiently read it to her while she wrote it down on a recipe card that probably said something on the top like ”What’s Cookin'” or some other equally catch phrase. Then she turned on the television and watched a soap opera, and most of the commercials were for cigarettes-which the spokesperson (smokesperson?) was actually smoking. After that she went to the grocery store to get all the recipe ingredients and a nice young man bagged her groceries and never asked if she needed help carrying them out, because of course, he wouldn’t dream of letting her carry her (paper) sack herself. She drove home without wearing a seatbelt because no one ever wore one.
Thanks for driving down Early Sixties Memory Lane with me, without your seatbelt. Through some research, I was able to determine that this recipe was a joint venture of Robin Hood Flour and Grape Nuts. Click here if you want to see the retro ads for the products plus a copy of the original recipe. And get a 7 cents off coupon for cereal. (I think that might be expired.) Nowhere on the Robin Hood Flour or Grape Nuts websites can I find this recipe, so other that the advertisement in the MSU archives, I don’t have any links to provide you with. I have adapted my recipe from the original one advertised by Robin Hood Flour and printed on the Grape Nuts box. If you have a link directly from either the flour or cereal website with this recipe, please share it in the comments and I will amend my post. Apparently it wasn’t a terribly popular recipe, which is a shame because it’s delicious and definitely a family favorite. Put on your favorite AM station and bake this with me.
Obviously you’ll need some Grape Nuts. If you don’t like to eat it as a breakfast cereal (I grew up eating it-with ample sugar-and found it preferable to the other “healthy” cereal my mother was always buying: Wheaties), there is no end to the recipes you can put it in. Just google “Grape Nuts recipes” and you’ll have your entire box used up in no time. If you have a nut hater in your family, this is a great recipe to get your crunch fix with. Just to be clear: Grape Nuts cereal does not contain nuts. Or grapes. Okay, soften the cereal with a little hot water and set it aside. Make the dough, which is pretty much just a wet biscuit dough. Nothing too sweet (that’s all in the filling) and easy to work with.
Roll out the dough. Mix the rest of the ingredients in with the Grape Nuts and spread it on the dough. Roll it up starting from the long side and put it on your baking sheet. The biggest variation in my recipe is that I double the amount of filling originally called for. It’s so good-my mom never doubled it and I would always beg her to let me eat a tiny bit of that sweet, crunchy filling. She would let me scrape what I could from the bowl after she finished with it, which wasn’t much. Because that’s the best part, I decided to double it one day, and always have since.
Since it’s a coffee ring, it needs to be formed into a circle. Now for the fun stuff! Every inch or so, cut (kitchen shears are perfect for this) into the ring about ⅔ of the way in. Put your hand in the middle of the ring and gently push out a little. You’ll widen the ring a little and separate all the sections. Twist each section just a bit so it’s on its side, leaning towards the section behind it. If you don’t want to twist it, you don’t have to. This is primarily for looks and doesn’t affect taste. Lift the edge of the foil up (at the very edge of the baking sheet) all the way around about an inch to catch any drips of filling.
Darn, there were drips! Take a butter knife and get rid of those drips right when the coffee ring comes out of the oven, while they’re still pliable and haven’t turned into rock candy yet, so your coffee ring will look nice and neat. After 30 minutes, gently slide the coffee ring off the foil onto your serving plate or cake stand. Let it cool a few more minutes, then drizzle on a little glaze.
Breakfast? Brunch? Dessert? You decide. Our family has always enjoyed the brown sugar, crunchy filling in this whenever it’s served. I like that although it’s entirely made from scratch, it isn’t difficult, and unless I’m out of Grape Nuts, I always have all the ingredients on hand to make it.
Try this instead of conventional coffee cake. It tastes good warm or at room temperature, and keeps a couple days covered with some plastic wrap. Frankly, it rarely lasts that long at my house, though. Because it’s a little sturdier than conventional cake, it’s perfect for lunch boxes or to grab as snack as you run out the door. Let me know if your family thinks this retro recipe is a keeper.
Glazed Coffee Ring
- FOR THE COFFEE RING:
- 1 c. Grape Nuts cereal
- ¼ c. hot water
- 2 c. flour
- 2 Tbs. sugar
- 1 Tbs. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/3 c. shortening
- 2/3 c. milk
- ½ c. brown sugar
- ¼ c. butter, melted
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- FOR THE GLAZE:
- ½ c. + 1 Tbs. powdered sugar
- 1-2 Tbs. milk or cream
- ¼ tsp. vanilla
- Step 1 Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Step 2 Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray the foil with non-stick spray. Choose a rimless sheet to make it easier to move the coffee ring onto a serving plate after baking, if desired.
- Step 3 In a medium bowl, mix the Grape Nuts with the hot water and set aside.
- Step 4 In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- Step 5 Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender, or use two knives, until the mixture has just pea-size lumps in it.
- Step 6 Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the milk, stirring with a wooden spoon to form a dough. (Use your hands if it’s easier.)
- Step 7 Put the dough on a lightly floured board and roll out to a rectangle approximately 9” X 16”. (This is a forgiving recipe-I usually don’t even measure the rectangle. Just be certain the dough doesn’t look more than ¼ inch thick.)
- Step 8 Add the brown sugar, melted butter, and cinnamon to the bowl with the Grape Nuts. Spread this mixture evenly over the dough.
- Step 9 Beginning with the long side, roll up the dough into a log. Place the dough on the baking sheet and gently curve it around into a circle.
- Step 10 With a sharp knife, or kitchen shears, cut 2/3 of the way into the coffee ring at one-inch intervals (see photo).
- Step 11 Gently push out on the dough from the inside of the coffee ring, fanning out each section, and making a better circle. Twist each section on its side just a bit. (You can skip the twisting part if you want to. It might look prettier, but it tastes just the same either way!) Take the edges of your foil and turn them up about an inch all around to prevent to any leakage in your oven if you’re using a rimless baking pan.
- Step 12 Bake 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Place on wire rack and with a butter knife, scrape away any sugary filling that bubbled out around the bottom of the coffee ring. Let cool 30 minutes.
- Step 13 Gently slide the coffee ring off the foil onto a serving plate or cake stand, if desired (see photo). Let cool 10 more minutes before glazing.
- Step 14 To make the glaze: put powdered sugar in a small bowl. Mix in 1 tablespoon of milk and the vanilla. Add more milk gradually as needed. Drizzle over coffee ring.
- Step 15 Store coffee ring covered, at room temperature. Individual slices may be rewarmed in microwave, if desired.