LAUSD, our public school district in Los Angeles, the 2nd largest one in the US, has a recipe for Coffee Cake that is legendary, it’s so delicious. It’s from 1954, and has been served in Los Angeles schools ever since that day.
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Los Angeles Unified School District is responsible for feeding hundreds of thousands of children each day, which they are valiantly trying to keep doing during this pandemic, and this Coffee Cake recipe has been one of their staples for over 60 years.
I don’t want to overstate how delicious this Coffee Cake is, but let me just say this: My then-10-year-old son decided what Middle School he wanted to attend because they served him this Coffee Cake when he visited as a 5th grader. (Middle School Administrators and Food Service workers, please take note.)
The LAUSD 1954 “Old Fashioned” Coffee Cake Recipe
One day, as I was scrolling on Twitter, I saw that Austin Buetner, the Superintendent of LAUSD, had tweeted out the original 1954 recipe. Someday it would be awesome to see how they’ve adapted it to make enough to serve 350,000 at a time, but for now, we have this.
The original, likely mimeographed*, version of the recipe is attached below. (*Look it up.)
The ingredients are simple, although not all of us may have nutmeg or buttermilk on hand. But they are worth getting! Delicious.
2 1/2 cups Baker’s Flour (we used all-purpose flour)
1 cup Brown Sugar, packed
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon Granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Nutmeg
3/4 cup Salad Oil (we used Canola Oil)
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Large Egg
1 cup Buttermilk
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″ X 13″ pan.
2. Combine first 6 ingredients, meaning: flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, nutmeg and salad oil – and mix with a fork or spatula until crumbly.
2A. Reserve 1/2 cup of this mixture for the topping, and add the cinnamon to it. Mix with a fork and set aside.
3. Combine the last 4 ingredients, meaning baking soda, baking powder, egg and buttermilk and mix, using a fork to break up the egg.
4. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and blend until well combined, but not over-mixed, using a spatula.
5. Pour into the prepared 9″ x 13″ pan and smooth out to make it even. Sprinkle the cinnamon mixture by hand evenly over the top of the batter.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, depending on your oven. Look for a golden brown color and for a toothpick to come out clean from the center.
7. Serve immediately for best enjoyment, but can last several days.
Our notes about this recipe:
The Coffee Cake is really good! It’s got a little bit of a salty taste in the crumble on top, and of course it’s sweet, so the two things help to balance it. It’s not too “cakey,” either – it’s got a lightness in texture. Can we ascribe that to the oil? Maybe.
We used whole nutmeg and we think it makes a big difference in the flavor. You’ll need a grater like this microplane one. (Affiliate link)
We don’t have any idea what they mean by the terms “Baker’s Flour” or “Salad Oil”, but we used All-Purpose Flour and Canola Oil and they worked fine. We have used Canola oil for other baking, so it was what we chose. We are certain you could use some other oil – and you may want to try other oils. Or even Butter as an alternative. Let us know what worked for you in the comments.
Also, we love the word “crumbly” and hope to use it again some day.
We’d like express our gratitude to the LAUSD food service team from 1954 that came up with this recipe – and to the Superintendent for sharing it.
If you make it, let us know how it goes and how you like it.