How to Make Good Buttermilk Spice Coffee Cakes.

The story of Santa and my family's buttermilk spice coffee cake tradition: I've personally been baking dozens upon dozens of these coffee cakes during the winter holidays for the last, oh, 20 or so years. (For those of you counting, I've likely personally made more than 600 over the course of my life.) Baking coffee cakes has been the tradition in my family since as far back as my memory of Santa goes. Why? Because my dad played Santa in the neighborhood in which I grew up, and to every home he traveled to visit on Christmas Eve, he brought a coffee cake … usually in exchange for Santa's favorite beverage: scotch.

I never made the connection between my mom swearing over making so many "god damn" coffee cakes and the-not-so-coincidental fact that Santa delivered coffee cakes on Christmas Eve … until I walked in on Santa getting dressed. When that veil was lifted, I officially became part of Santa's little sweatshop and have been making coffee cakes and delivering them to friends and neighbors on Christmas Eve ever since. It's a tradition I love and look forward to and one I've already passed down to my daughter … minus, of course, the swearing, scotch and big red suit. I am, however, the proud bearer of my dad's Santa suit which has been brought out in emergency situations over the years. I bet if one were to be so brave as to taste the beard, it would bear a hint of nutmeg and malted barley.

Buttermilk Spice Coffee Cakes

This is a very simple and easy recipe and is meant to be shared. As such, the below recipe produces three 9" cakes. These freeze easily and are delicious warmed with a bit of butter or whipped cream. (And scotch … so I hear.)


  • 5 cups sifted flour
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 3 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, brown sugar and oil.
  3. Blend at low speed until combined but chunky.
  4. Set aside 1 1/13 cup for topping.
  5. Mix in remaining ingredients on low speed and, when done, evenly distribute into three 9" round or 8" square cake pans.
  6. Sprinkle tops with reserved topping.
  7. Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes.