Food & Drink

Polish Coffee Cake (my grandma’s recipe!)

A simple, yet mouthwatering yeast raised cake, with the most explosive amount of crumb topping! A recipe passed down through my family!

Polish Coffee Cake | Fabtastic Eats Do you have a lot of family recipes that have been passed down? I don’t really have that many, not in my hands anyways. Probably because until we moved out to the west coast, I really never had any need for them. My mom still makes everything that my grandma, and her grandmas made, and so we just went to her house. But noooow I find myself missing their cooking so much. Especially some of there famous recipes. Like this polish coffee cake!

I’ve talked a few times about my grandmas cooking. (& my moms, I even started a series, that I’ve definitely neglected, highlighting some of my favorite things my mom makes!) Recently when I made these crepes, in that post I yapped about Sunday brunch at my grandmas house and how it was all about eating all day long, quite literally. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that! Don’t you just love how much food brings people together? It’s a beautiful thing.

Polish Coffee Cake | Fabtastic Eats Anyhoo, this is my grandmas recipe for polish coffee cake, and I know it was handed down to her, it goes back quite a few generations. And it’s perfect. This is one of those things that she would make on Sundays for all of our brunches, and she almost alwaaaays had it. I can hardly remember a time going over there when this wasn’t sitting on her counter. And we lived a 1/2 mile from her for a loooong time, so we went a lot. Polish Coffee Cake is my all time favorite.

Polish Coffee Cake | Fabtastic Eats But not just any polish coffee cake, it has to be HERS. Because I’ve seen some that end up to dry, or they hardly have any crumb topping (wth! it’s the best part!), or they’re to dense. This one is perfect. I have her handwritten recipe for this and its gorgeous–you can see all the years she’s had it. Her recipe is double what the recipe below states. She makes massive pans, because, well, everyone devoured it. I felt a little better about having a whole pan of this in the house if it wasn’t the size of the state of texas. Especially since I ate three quarters of this cake ON MY OWN.

Polish Coffee Cake | Fabtastic Eats I exaggerate sometimes, but I am not here. I really did eat almost this entire thing myself. For breakfast, second breakfast, again for a snack, then for dinner with wine once, then as a late night treat. So what Im telling you is that while my grandma would probably claim that this is best with a steaming hot cup of coffee in the morning, and shes probably, no definitely right, it’s also absolutely fantastic, and pairs reallllly well with a glass of a full bodied red wine. It’s pure heaven. I’m giving you plenty of excuses to eat this. I was caught many times, just standing over the counter with a fork in hand for a good 15 minutes. I’m not ashamed.

Polish Coffee Cake | Fabtastic Eats So what makes this cake so special? It’s a yeast cake, but don’t get freaked, this is probably one of the simplest cakes you will ever make. It’s lightly sweetened, a little lemon rind is added, then it rises. The star of this cake is the crumb topping. The recipe below makes a lot, but don’t cut it in half, and don’t skimp, you want every last piece of that crumb on this cake! When it comes out of the oven and begins to cool, the topping gets a little crisp to it. And the butter melts a little into the top of the cake…ahh.

When we were little, and my mom made this for us, my brothers and I would just stand there and eat only the topping, you can bet my mom loved that! 😉 But now that I’m older, ahem, I can totally appreciate every aspect of this simply sweet, slightly crunchy, perfect, polish coffee cake. I will forever love my grandma for this one! Enjoy!

Polish Coffee Cake | Fabtastic Eats

Polish Coffee Cake (my grandma's recipe!)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Yield: 1 large cake

A simple, yet mouthwatering yeast raised cake, with the most explosive amount of crumb topping! A recipe passed down through my family!


  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • rind of 1 lemon, 2-3 TB
  • 1 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • Crumb Topping (aka heaven!)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 cup cold butter


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Grate in the lemon rind.
  2. In a small saucepan on the stove, melt the butter and milk together over medium-low heat. Remove from heat, and allow to cool to about 108°, you don't want to kill your yeast because your milk is too hot. If it is really hot, to speed up the cooling process, I put it in the freezer for a few minutes.
  3. Using a wooden spoon, begin to stir the milk mixture into the dry ingredients. Once halfway combined, stir in the eggs. Fold everything together until just blended.
  4. Grease and flour a large baking pan. Pour in the batter, it will be thick, and spread evenly in the pan.
  5. Cover and allow to rise until it doubles in size, 1-2 hours. I stick mine in the oven with the oven light on, it works pretty quick! (Just be sure not to turn your oven on while it's in there!)
  6. When it's doubled in size, preheat your oven to 350°. (make sure it's not in there still!)
  7. To make the crumb topping, aka the best thing ever, in a medium sized bowl, stir together the sugar and flour. Cut the butter in in chunks, and using a large fork, begin to mash the butter into the dry ingredients. After a couple minutes, I tend to just use my hand, its much more efficient, and you get a better crumb.
  8. Using your hands, while simultaneously squeezing into chunks, spread the crumb topping across the risen cake.
  9. Pop in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool for a few minutes before devouring.


Store covered on the counter.

Recipe Source: My Polish Grandma!

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  • Reply Kelly @ Hidden Fruits and Veggies

    I have an almost identical recipe from my polish grandmother! In her’s, the dough is actually the same dough we use to make paczkis, so you know it’s good! She used to make it in loaf pans and give everyone a loaf at Christmas time <3 It's one of the best things I've ever eaten! I love that this is made in a large baking pan instead and has SO much crumb topping. Heaven!

    October 21, 2014 at 6:22 am
    • Reply Alaina

      Oh the greatest, right?! I LOVE the idea of giving it as gifts, I’m going to have to remember that! Thanks girl!

      October 21, 2014 at 7:40 pm
    • Reply Tammy

      Kelly at Hidden Fruits and Veggies…Could I have your paczki recipe because my polish coffee cake also reminds me of the smell of the dough I use to eat out of my nannys paczki dough bowl but I don’t have her recipe for those?

      March 31, 2018 at 3:08 pm
  • Reply Meg @ The Housewife in Training Files

    Whoa! This coffee cake sounds out of this world. All that crumb. I would eat most of it too!!

    October 21, 2014 at 7:47 am
    • Reply Alaina

      Hahah the best part! Thank you xo

      October 21, 2014 at 7:41 pm
  • Reply Sue

    I would like to try this recipe this weekend. It sounds delicious! What are the measurements of the large baking pan that you use?

    December 28, 2015 at 7:47 pm
  • Reply Karen

    What size baking pan is right for this cake? I was looking at a 9×13. Please let me know as I want to make it this weekend.

    December 30, 2016 at 2:09 pm
    • Reply Alaina

      I apologize for the delayed response, I took some time off through the holidays. I used a medium sized pan, 13×6 I believe is the exact size

      January 3, 2017 at 8:22 am
  • Reply Ruby

    Hi there, I’ve made this a few times and i’s been consistently delicious… but it never seems to rise. It’s certainly not a deal breaker but I’m wondering what I might be doing wrong? I usually put it in the oven like you with some cling film loosely draped over the pan if that helps diagnose things! Thanks for the recipe, it’s been enjoyed many times.

    January 5, 2017 at 4:03 pm
    • Reply Alaina

      well firstly Im so, so glad that you’ve enjoyed it so much! that makes me so happy! secondly, Im not sure why its not rising. Could your milk possibly be either to hot or to cold, therefore either killing the yeast or not activating it at all? yeast can be so finicky! I hope we can figure it out!

      January 8, 2017 at 6:48 pm
      • Reply Sarah

        It’s such a nice recipe that i’ve written it down in the recipe book my fella and me are sharing 🙂

        Re: the milk – it’s usually slightly warmer than room temperature (the same temperature it is when I make bread, which usually does rise). I might just go ahead and spring for a thermometer. Is there anything else it could be, do you think? Will comment again if some temperature control fixes it!

        January 30, 2017 at 2:07 pm
  • Reply Sierra

    It was going pretty well, and it rose like it was supposed to. However, I’ve baked it for close to an hour and it’s still raw inside. Like, the whole thing is raw. The only thing that’s cooked was the crumb, and it’s basically burnt now. I’m not really sure what I could’ve done wrong. My pan is a little small, so I guess I could’ve used less crumb, but that doesn’t really explain why it didn’t bake at all.

    August 7, 2017 at 9:05 pm
  • Reply Barb

    I’m interested in making this coffee but I’ve never seen a 13 x 6 inch pan. Could you double check the size of you pan? Could it be a 13 x 9 inch pan? Thanks..

    August 9, 2017 at 5:19 pm
  • Reply Elizabeth Meredith

    Is the pan size 13×9 glass or metal ?

    January 2, 2018 at 10:01 am
  • Reply Lina Gimble

    Ruby– Could it be your yeast? The recipe calls for the yeast to be mixed in with the dry ingredients. I’m guessing the author is using “instant yeast,” which doesn’t need to be proofed or mixed in with the wet ingredients. If you are using “active dry” yeast, you might need to proof it first in the warm milk and melted butter (pinch of the sugar too as you probably know from your bread baking.) Your proofed active dry yeast will go into the batter with the milk.

    May 1, 2018 at 6:21 am
  • Reply Mary

    This is a stupid question but what is AP Flour?

    August 2, 2018 at 8:13 pm
    • Reply Donna

      All purpose flour

      August 31, 2018 at 7:07 pm

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