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The Hygge Blog

The History of Coffee Cake


By Eric Olesen - 3rd generation owner

Sunday, April 25, 2021

What is a coffee cake?

danish dream cake We can understand why anyone might think that coffee cake includes a rich espresso taste.  However, very few coffee cakes are made with this ingredient.  Instead, they come in an array of delicious flavors, from tart cherry to sweet cinnamon apple and pecan custard.

While the exact origin of this yummy dessert is not well known, it has evolved over the decades to become a sweet, unfrosted cake that you can serve for brunch or during any informal occasion accompanied by a steaming cup of coffee.

Origination of Coffee Cake

No one knows who invented coffee cake.  It appears that the delicious treat evolved from other types of sweet treats.  The first coffee cake likely originated in Germany, specifically in Dresden.  However, the Danish came up with the earliest version of eating a type of sweet bread while drinking coffee, so coffee cakes really evolved from many different cultural traditions.

We do know that coffee was introduced to Europe in the 1600s.  From this time, Scandinavians paired their coffee with sweet breads that were brimming with nuts, fruit, and spices and established a designated break time during their busy days.  The term ‘coffee cake’ didn’t become a common name until the late 1800s.

Evolution of Coffee Cake

danish crown cake With immigration on the rise during the 1800s, Dutch and Germans traveled to America, taking with them their family recipes for this tasty dessert.  By 1870, coffee cakes had exploded in popularity in New York, New Jersey, and Delaware and changed from sweet bread delights into a pastry treat.  Each baker put a unique twist on the dessert, creating an array of flavors, which led to the modern coffee cake version that we are familiar with today.

The hole in the middle of the coffee cake seems to be a more recent innovation, becoming popular in the 1950s with the Bundt pan.  The idea behind the Bundt pan was to allow heavier batters and fillings to cook the whole way through while ensuring that the dough baked completely.

Our talented bakers create a variety of coffee cakes inspired by our Danish heritage that are bursting with sweet, decadent flavors such as apple cinnamon and pecan custard.  We make these desserts with our famous Danish pastry inside to give you a flaky center with our scratch-made filling, and we top each cake with crumbly, buttery streusel.

As coffee cakes have evolved over the years, it should be no surprise that we also evolved to introduce our unique Almond Custard Seven Sisters Coffee Cake.  Inspired and named after the prominent constellation that Danish sailors used for seafaring navigation, we create this longtime favorite dessert with our classic pastry and a mouthwatering creamy almond filling and smooth custard, which we bake into seven spiral rolls.

Coffee Cake’s Rich History

It is hard to trace the coffee cake origin story, especially since it has had so many influences worldwide and has evolved through the centuries to result in the many different versions that we have today.  However, it seems that we can mostly trace this dessert back to Danish and German roots.

With its rich history — and the fact that coffee cake has remained a popular dessert at our bakery for more than 60 years — we can safely assume that despite its hazy origin, this dessert is not going anywhere any time soon.

Get Coffee Cake from O&H Danish Bakery Delivered Straight to Your Door

pecan custard coffee cake for delivery You can get more enjoyment out of your coffee break with a slice of goodness from our bakery.  We have an extensive range of coffee cakes that we make with rich and buttery flaky pastry, sweet and juicy fruits, exotic spices, and the finest ingredients from around the world.

Pairing flavors with crumbly streusel and smooth icing, our bakers craft each sweet delight using authentic family recipes that have been passed down from our grandparents and continue to stand the test of time.  Order your favorite coffee cake online or reach out to our friendly team about our latest seasonal treats!


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