Coffee Cake Donuts

Coffee Cake Donuts - offbeat + inspired

My trips down memory lane frequently take me to the Jersey shore. I shared a recipe for Spiced Rum Banana Ice Cream last year that highlighted a lot of the nostalgia I experience whilst daydreaming of East Coast summers past, and the Coffee Cake Donuts I’m sharing today are thusly inspired.

Coffee Cake Donuts - offbeat + inspired

Beach Haven. A little town on Long Beach Island where my family used to vacation almost every summer. We would rent a house a few blocks from the ocean and spend late mornings trekking across the hot asphalt to the sand where we would set up camp and do several rotations of swimming and napping before heading back to the house for refreshments.

On our last LBI trip, we discovered a little deli on one of our beach-bound walks. Bowker’s. In all my summers spent on LBI, I’d never seen or heard of this place! It was a colorful and inviting surf-themed beach shack with scribbled out chalkboard menus boasting an enticing list of sandwiches and ice cream flavors. We popped in one hot afternoon out of pure curiosity, determined to test drive the deli. Inside, we found a little convenience store stocked with the basics: canned soup, pancake mix, marshmallows, first aid kits, bug spray and a small fridge full of milk and eggs. They had large fans going to combat the heat, but the high temps worked to their advantage as we quickly gravitated towards the ice cream case and deli counter.

Coffee Cake Donuts - offbeat + inspired [a cell phone pic of Bowker's]

This is a cell phone pic of the entrance. I wish I took more!!

We placed our sandwich orders with the friendly guy behind the register and waited, browsing the colorful tubs of frozen sweetness through panes of smudged glass. At the end of the ice cream row, I spotted a couple of empty trays that looked like they were once home to something cakey and crumbly. Intrigued, I asked ‘friendly guy’ what baked goodies had sold out by 11AM that day, and he told me. Coffee cake (aka crumb cake). I learned that this wasn’t your average, run-of-the-mill coffee cake. This was world-class coffee cake. Obviously, I needed some.

I got up early the next morning and headed to Bowker’s. To my delight, there, in the big tray…were two ginormous pieces of the most cakey, buttery, majestically crumb-heavy coffee cake I’d ever seen. I ordered one and tasted it on the spot. Yes. Buttery, moist and delicious with a perfect crumb to cake ratio (50/50, none of that 20/80 nonsense). This was nothing like any of the coffee cakes I’d had before — the boxed kinds from the grocery store, or the kinds I’d had at other bakeries. Those were always too dry, or the cake was good and the crumble was weird, or the crumble was good and the cake was like styrofoam. No. This was, hands down, the best coffee cake ever. The following morning, we ordered a whole tray. It weighed about 20 pounds.

Coffee Cake Donuts - offbeat + inspired

Now that I’m living in Kentucky and summer trips to LBI don’t happen as often, I haven’t had access to that life-altering Bowker’s coffee cake. So naturally, I’ve recreated it in donut form. Since I don’t own an oven large enough to house a mothership-sized sheet pan like the one they use at Bowker’s, I decided a donut would be the next best thing. This is a coffee cake recipe for those who love everything rich, sweet, buttery, cakey and crumbly. There’s only one requirement: have it with coffee.

If you’re near New Jersey, please visit Bowker’s and try the coffee cake so you can experience what I did. If you’re too far away, find a local bakery that does coffee cake and tell me what you think! Either way, make these donuts and enjoy! Let’s get the coffee cake love rolling!

[Recipe at the bottom!]

Coffee Cake Donuts - offbeat + inspired

Coffee Cake Donuts - offbeat + inspired

Coffee Cake Donuts - offbeat + inspired

Coffee Cake Donuts - offbeat + inspired

Coffee Cake Donuts - offbeat + inspired

Coffee Cake Donuts - offbeat + inspired

Coffee Cake Donuts - offbeat + inspired

Coffee Cake Donuts - offbeat + inspired

Coffee Cake Donuts - offbeat + inspired

Coffee Cake Donuts - offbeat + inspired

Coffee Cake Donuts - offbeat + inspired

Coffee Cake Donuts - offbeat + inspired

Coffee Cake Donuts - offbeat + inspired

Coffee Cake Donuts
Yields 12 donuts

For the Crumb

2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
3 1/2 cups cake flour

For the Cake

1 1/4 cup cake flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Spray two 6-cavity donut pans with cooking spray (I use these Norpro pans because the cavities are nice and deep compared to others I’ve tried!)

First, make the crumb. In a large bowl, combine the sugars, cinnamon and salt. Pour the melted butter over the mixture and stir until fully incorporated. Stir in the cake flour until a smooth dough forms and set the bowl aside.

In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Using a hand mixer, add in the butter and beat until the mixture resembles moist crumbs.

In a small bowl, combine the egg, egg yolks, vanilla extract and buttermilk. Mix until smooth, and then add the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing until the batter is light and fluffy.

Spoon the batter into the donut molds. Make sure each cavity is only about 1/3 full. It’s better to under-fill each one, and then go back and add more with any excess batter.

Evenly distribute the crumb dough over the top of each donut. Be careful not to press the crumbs into the batter, just give them a generous sprinkling. Pile on that crumb!

Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into one of the donuts comes out clean. If your oven bakes unevenly, rotate the pans halfway through. If you want the crumbs to brown, move your trays to the top rack under the broiler when there’s about 5 minutes left on the clock. Watch them carefully if you do this because they can easily burn!

When you remove your trays from the oven, let them cool for about 5 minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack and placing them crumb-side up. Once the donuts have cooled, dust them with powdered sugar, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy!

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  1. Oh my gosh, these look so good! I love coffee cake so much. I’ve made jumbo muffin versions in the past, but will definitely have to give my new donut pans a whirl with this recipe!

    • Tiffany | offbeat + inspired says:

      Thank you!! Oh my gosh, coffee cake muffins are TO DIE FOR. I’m going to make those next haha!! 🙂

  2. Absolute luxury for breakfast 🙂
    I love coffee cake and can’t wait to try this. Also baking in a warm kitchen on
    a cold morning is pretty much the coziest thing this time of year.
    Thanks for sharing!!!

  3. Hey Tiffany,
    I have a little silly donut maker and I was wondering if this would this recipe work at all in that? I’d be worried it wouldn’t turn out as well as baking them… any suggestions? thanks!

    • Tiffany | offbeat + inspired says:

      Hi Chelsea! A donut maker should work just fine!! I would check with the manufacturer though, just to make sure that it’s not specifically made for a certain kind of donut. The Coffee Cake Donut recipe would be considered a typical baked donut.

  4. So I’ve decided to start my own donut adventure (it began last weekend), and i am so, so excited to try these, though my kids have created a list of other varieties we have to work our way through first.
    Did you see that video Michael Pollan narrated about the best indicator of a healthy diet? Make stuff at home. So I’ve decided that if i want donuts, i gotta make ’em. While they won’t ever be ‘health” food, they certainly are happiness food.

    • Tiffany | offbeat + inspired says:

      I didn’t see that video, but I’m going to look it up! It’s so true haha! Even if you make sweets at home, it’s still better than the chemical-laden stuff you’d find at the grocery store! 🙂

  5. Just found your blog today and I’m an addict at first sight. If the content wasn’t enough I could scroll through your photography all day long. I’ve sat at the computer so long now that soap operas are coming on the TV in the other room. Must. Step. Away.

  6. I hope I can visit Bowkers someday! It sounds great. These doughnuts look absolutely amazing. I LOVE crumbs, such a great idea to put them on a baked doughnut! I’m obsessed with baked doughnuts!

    • Tiffany | offbeat + inspired says:

      Yes!! Please visit Bowker’s! It’s such a fun little spot. And thank you!! I hope you give this recipe a try!! 🙂

  7. one of my favorite doughnuts. they look great!

  8. I just now discovered your blog and I love it! Thank you for this wonderful recipe, I’ve been super obsessed with baked donuts lately and these look beautiful.

  9. These look delicious… I can’t wait to try the recipe! I just came across your blog after Meredith over at One Sheepish Girl put these donuts in one of her roundups. It’s beautiful, and I’m glad I found it! Plus, your photos are just absolute eye candy - I shoot my own photos for my blog so I’m always looking for inspiration and other photogs I admire 🙂 Anyway, hope you had a great weekend!

    • Tiffany | offbeat + inspired says:

      Ohhh I’ll have to go thank Meredith!! Thank you so much, I’m so glad you like the photos. It’s so much fun to shoot your own food, isn’t it?? 🙂

      • It is so much fun to shoot stuff you’ve made yourself (crafts and food). But sometimes it’s really frustrating too, when I can’t get a photo to turn out how I want it to, and I just think, “damn, I wish I had a professional photographer to capture this” lol. But I just keep practicing 😉

  10. Just tried these and the flavor is FANTASTIC although by appearance my results were less than ideal. Batter overflowed the donut wells and the crumb sunk into batter. 🙁 I’m guessing too much batter per hole? or too much crumble on top? I did not use all the crumble - had about a cup left over because it seemed like too much. Any advice? Have you tried them as muffins?? Thanks! Want to try again because they taste so good - even as I was scraping them off the pans 🙂

    • Tiffany | offbeat + inspired says:

      Hi Mary!! It does sound like there was too much batter. This really depends on the donut pan you used though. The cavities on the Norpro pan I use are deeper than other donut pans I’ve seen, so I fill mine about 1/3 because they puff up a lot while baking! The batter is just enough to fill 12 of the Norpro cavities 1/3 full, so for a more shallow pan, I’m thinking you would be able to get an extra 6 donuts out of the batch! It would work the same with the crumble! I hope this helped. I have done these as mini loaves and muffins, all delicious!! 🙂

  11. This is such a clever idea! Love coffee cake and donuts, so I know I’d love these.

  12. mmmmmmmmmmmm I’d like to live in those photographs please……

  13. These look so delicious, I’m going to give them a try! Can I ask where you purchased the white small coffee mug from that is in your the second picture from the top? It is so cute!
    PS I love LBI! We used to rent a house in Beach Haven for 2 weeks every summer when I was a kid, such good memories

    • Tiffany | offbeat + inspired says:

      Hi Erin!! Thank you so much!! I do hope you try them and LOVE them. These are probably my favorite baked donuts to date. That little stoneware mug was purchased at a boutique in town that sells antiques and high quality thrifted home goods. I would say it’s comparable to the really thick walled restaurant mugs they serve coffee in! You should be able to find something like it pretty easily at any antiques show/fair! And ohhhh my goodness yes. The LBI memories are SO good. We did the exact same thing, I love it! 🙂

  14. Stef Jennings says:

    These just became muffins…and are epic.

  15. I don’t understand the recipe. 5 cups of dry ingredients for the crumb and only 2 cups of dry for the cake? I’ve not tried this, but I’d hate to waste the ingredients if it’s a misprint. Would you double check the printed recipe, please. Thank you.

    • Tiffany | offbeat + inspired says:

      Hi Kathy! The reason there’s so much more dry in the crumb is because these donuts are meant to be at least 50% crumb. The crumb portion is very dense with no leavening and the cake is to be moist and a bit fluffy. This means that the crumb does call for a lot more dry, packed together flour and sugar. I hope you give it a try! These are delicious! 🙂


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