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Betty Crocker’s Prize Coffee Cake

Cooking my way through the 1950 edition of this Betty Crocker cookbook.

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My prized possession — or at least one of them — is my Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook. It was my grandma’s, and then it was my mom’s, and now it’s mine, and it holds an esteemed place of honor in my kitchen. (Highest shelf, top right, next to a portrait of Julia Child.) It’s the ninth printing of the 1950 edition and definitely shows some wear and tear but that’s just because it’s been well-loved and well-used — those tatters are well-earned. Our copy opens right to the cookie page because my family has made cookies from it so many times throughout the decades but I got to thinking…. why haven’t I made much else from here?

It was time to change that. There are so many vintage gems in this book — and so many that my grandmother probably loved — that I felt like I should probably take some time to discover them. So I’m taking you along with me for the great Betty Crocker Cookbook Cookthrough. And I found the perfect place to start:

The Coffee Cakes / Quick Breads page is another very well-loved page in this book, but one that I’ve never actually used. It’s so covered in splotches and smudges and folds that I figure my grandma must have, though! It’s the natural choice to be my first recipe for this project.

The Betty Crocker Cookbook is organized in an interesting way. Most pages have a kind of “main” recipe up at the top and then variations you can take on that recipe below. So I thought — wouldn’t it be fun if I decided to make a coffee cake but I had the 12 Tomatoes team decide which variation I was making and surprise me? That’s just what we did. I showed up to the studio and didn’t know until I was on camera that I’d be making the Blueberry Buckle version, but I was very happy about it!

The inscription reads, “The best of old-time Blueberry Tea Cakes. Wonderful for summer-time Sunday breakfast. Makes a luscious, fruity, homey dessert.”. It’s definitely all those things. It’s a nostalgic type of cake, the kind that fits in yesteryear and today, but is rustic enough that it’s totally approachable. It’s easy too.

Betty asks you to mix together shortening, white sugar, and an egg, and then stir in some milk before stirring in your dry ingredients — flour, baking powder, and salt. For the “blueberry buckle” version I was making, you up the flour to two cups and then stir in two cups of blueberries at the end.

My only concern with this version is that I wouldn’t get a streusel topping, but I did. It’s just a quick matter of mixing cinnamon, sugar, butter, and flour and sprinkling it over the top before it heads into the oven for forty-five minutes. The end result is a lovely, casual cake with a light but moist crumb and plenty of bright bursts of blueberry. In other words, it’s something I would absolutely make again and again. And I think I will do just that.

(Along with many other Betty Crocker recipes, so follow along for my progress!)

By the way, did you know that Betty Crocker isn’t actually a real person? Nope, never was. She’s a fictional character created in 1921 to give the Washburn-Crosby company (now General Mills) a more personal appeal. This book was actually written by a nutritionist named Agnes White Tizard, who also played “Betty” on TV.

Yield(s): Serves 9

15m prep time

45m cook time

Rated 5.0 out of 5
Rated by 1 reviewers

Allergens: Milk, Eggs, Gluten

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For the cake:
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup soft shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups blueberries
For the crumb mixture:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup soft butter
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and grease and flour a 9-inch square baking pan. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup shortening, and egg thoroughly.
  3. Stir in 1/2 cup milk.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, then stir into the wet ingredients.
  5. Carefully stir in the blueberries, then transfer to prepared pan.
  6. Mix together the ingredients for the crumb mixture, then sprinkle over the top of the batter.
  7. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Serve warm, fresh from the oven. Enjoy!

From Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook, 1950 edition.