I was going to call this “Doughnut Coffee Cake” because the nutmeg reminded me of a doughnut in coffee cake form. However, after further research I discovered it is called Cowboy Coffee Cake. Cowboy Cake is a streusel coffee cake where the streusel is made by simply scooping out some of the flour/sugar/butter mixture and setting it aside to use as the topping.
It’s possible the name came from the idea that cowboys were resourceful and couldn’t use a hundred different bowls. I am not quite sure, but if this is the way cowboys made cake, I’d like more cowboy recipes! This cake was just so relaxing to make — a good “baking therapy” cake because of its ease of preparation and scent. Plus, you can vary the spices. The first time I made it I used nutmeg, but the second time I got a little adventurous and Cake Spice, which is a blend of cinnamon, anise, nutmeg, allspice, ginger and cloves
Cowboy Coffee Cake can be made in a 9 inch square pan or in a 9 inch round springform. If you have a little 6 inch round cake pan, you can halve the recipe and make a 6 inch cake that will feed 4 to 6.
Cowboy Coffee Cake
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 12 oz or weigh out 12 oz pastry flour
- 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar 7 oz
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar 5.25 oz
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg or 1 tablespoon cake spice
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves omit if using cake spice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup 6 oz unsalted butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup buttermilk at room temperature
- 2 whole large eggs room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup toasted chopped pecans
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar mixed with 2 tsp ground cinnamon for sprinkling
- 2 teaspoons butter melted
- 213 cup plus a tablespoon powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Water as needed
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 9-inch round springform pan.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, nutmeg, cloves and salt.
- Pour in the melted butter and stir until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (you can use your fingers if you need to). Remove 3/4 cup of the mixture and put in a small bowl; set aside.
- Add the baking powder to the mixture left in the mixing bowl and stir well.
- Add the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth — no longer than 1 minute. If there is still a lump or two, that’s okay. Don’t overbeat.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.
- Sprinkle crumb mixture over the top, then scatter the nuts over it and sprinkle with the sugar-cinnamon mixture.
- Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean; if the top begins to brown too quickly during baking, cover loosely with aluminum foil.
- Set cake on a wire rack to cool. Loosen sides of springform, but do not remove. Allow the loosened cake to cool, then remove the sides of the pan.
- When the cake is completely cool, make the icing and drizzle it across the top. To make the icing, mix the melted butter and sugar together in a 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup or a small bowl. Add the vanilla, then begin adding water about a teaspoon at a time, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth and can be drizzled.