Cinnamon Loaf Coffee Cake ❤︎ Petje’s Cake

This Cinnamon Loaf Coffee Cake was my Dad’s favourite cake, and it’s a hands-down family favourite over here. My Dad was my kids’ beloved Petje, and I made this cake for him often. In fact, I’ve easily made over a hundred of these over the years. And when I serve one now, someone inevitably asks, “Is that Petje’s cake?”

Cinnamon Loaf Coffee Cake | © 2016

When a Cake Is More Than a Cake

Sometimes a cake is much more than a cake. This particular Cinnamon Loaf, which my family usually calls coffee cake, is a good case in point. I know that whenever I serve it to my children, someone will ask, “Is that Petje’s cake?” Just this Thanksgiving I made it for our family brunch, setting it out without any fanfare. Sure enough, the question was asked and the reminiscing began.

The most cherished recipes carry history and emotion. I often made Cinnamon Loaf when my parents came to visit. I don’t know how Mom came by the recipe, but it was a staple in her repertoire and I copied it out on a 3×5-inch recipe card before I left home long ago. Unlike many of the other recipes in my stuffed-to-bursting recipe box, this one has been used frequently, as the state of the card testifies. Stained, torn and rumpled, the card stock is softened by repeated handling over the course of almost 40 years.

Cinnamon Loaf Coffee Cake

Why? Well, it’s a good cake, of course. A standard coffee cake with a tender crumb, easy to make, great for dessert or a snack or even breakfast on the run (much better for you than a doughnut). The recipe is forgiving and I’ve used it as the basis for many coffee cake variations over the years, like this apple cranberry coffee cake and this orange cardamom version.

Cinnamon Loaf Coffee Cake | © 2016

More important, though, this is an iconic family recipe because it was one of my Dad’s favourites. Bless his fussy meat-and-potatoes-hold-the-seasonings-dinner-at-five-o’clock insistence on food on his terms. He was a sweet man and he enjoyed this cake so much. In a family where love was rarely expressed in words, making this cake for Dad was a symbolic act for me, and now I make it in memory of him.

I know it won’t be long before his great-grandchildren, who never had the privilege of meeting him, will be asking, “Is that Petje’s cake?”

Such is how we live on through food memories.

Cinnamon Loaf Coffee Cake | © 2016
Cinnamon Loaf Coffee Cake
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
1 hr

Over the years I've made this cake with milk soured with vinegar, buttermilk, kefir and even sour cream. Despite what Mom's recipe says, I never make it with margarine anymore, although that was all the rage back in the misguided heyday of my youth. This was my Dad's (my children's beloved Petje) favourite cake.

Category: Dessert
Keyword: cinnamon loaf coffee cake, coffee cake
Servings: 12 slices
Author: © Marlene Cornelis/ 2016–2020
For the Cake
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 c sour milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp baking powder
For the Topping
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch salt
How To Make This Recipe
  1. Preheat the oven to 350℉. Butter and flour a tube pan or bundt pan.
  2. Stir the topping ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients for the cake in a bowl and set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the beaten eggs and half of the dry ingredients, then half of the milk. Mix well, then stir in the rest of the dry ingredients followed by the remaining milk, taking care not to overbeat.

  4. Place half of the batter in the prepared pan, spreading it evenly. Sprinkle on half of the topping mix. Then add the rest of the batter and sprinkle on the rest of the topping.

  5. Bake at 350℉ for about an hour, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Depending on your oven, I suggest checking for doneness at 50 to 55 minutes.

Looking for More Coffee Cakes?

Here are three more satisfying coffee cakes that justify a second cup of coffee: Pecan Coffee Cake with Cranberry Pecan Topping, Orange Cardamom Coffee Cake, and Apple Cranberry Coffee Cake.

First Published 2016 12 06
Republished 2020 09 25


  1. Sounds like a tasty cake, Mar, and its name alone brought back sweet memories for me. When I was very young, while we kids took our baths and got ready for bed, Mom was busy in the kitchen. Soon, there would be the scent of cinnamon wafting through the house. She’d appear, shortly thereafter, with buttered slices of freshly baked cinnamon swirl bread. Thanks for sharing both, your wonderful recipe and the memories that come with it.

    • Oh, what a lovely memory of your Mom baking a sweet treat for you kids before bedtime. When we were young, these things appeared as if by magic, but now that we are accomplished in our own kitchens, we can truly appreciate the work and love that went into these sweet gestures. Thanks so much for sharing this memory!

      • It turned out wonderful!! I have made it four times now…lol….I have taken it to some of my kids and they loved it.

      • It makes me so happy to hear this! Dad loved this cake, and every time I make it for my family they talk about him. Food is so evocative of family memories.

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