January 22, 2022

HERITAGE RECIPE : Sweetheart Coffee Cake

When looking for a heritage recipe this week, I found one that was called "Sweetheart Coffee Cake"--and since Valentine's Day is coming up, I thought this would be a great recipe to try!

Now, I am the first to admit that I did a terrible job with the presentation! Hahaha, it's not nearly as pretty as I hoped it would be. But hey, if it tastes good, that's what matters most.

You'll see there are two different versions that I made, and I'll explain that in my notes after the recipe.

This recipe was submitted to the Rockwood, Michigan Area Historical Society by Peggy Laginess in memory of her mother-in-law, Helen Laginess.

Now, when I googled Peggy and Helen, I discovered something very interesting. I read Peggy's obituary which named one of my uncles (my mom's older brother) as a surviving relative. This is confusing, but here is what I learned:

Peggy (who submitted this recipe) was married to Robert (who has passed away).
Robert had a sister named Lorraine.
Lorraine is married to Dan--and Dan happens to be my mom's brother (my uncle).

I'm not sure how that makes me a relative to Peggy (through marriage), but I found that interesting! Anyway, Peggy submitted this recipe for Sweetheart Coffee Cake in memory of her husband Robert's mother, Helen. Helen was born in 1912 and passed away in 1997 at age 85.

As always, I'm copying the recipe here exactly as-written in the heritage book and I made it without modifying or substituting anything. If anything was unclear, I made my best judgment and I wrote about it in my notes. (The "printer-friendly" version below is re-written by me with my notes included.)

Here is a printer-friendly version!

Sweetheart Coffee Cake

3-1/2 to 4 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar
2 pkg. RapidRise yeast
2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. butter
2/3 c. milk
1/2 c. water
2 eggs

Set aside 1 cup flour. Mix flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Heat together water, butter and milk until hot to touch. Stir hot liquid into dry mixture. Mix in eggs. Mix in enough reserved flour as necessary to make a stiff batter. Knead on floured surface until smooth, about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl and cover; rest 10 minutes. Divide dough in half and roll out 1 portion to 15 x 10-inch. Brush with 1/4 cup melted butter. Combine filling and sprinkle 1/2 of it over dough. Roll up as jellyroll from long side. Place on greased baking sheet. Fold half of roll on top other half; seal ends together. Starting at folded end, cut lengthwise down center of roll with scissors to within 1-inch of sealed end. Turn cut halves outward, cut side up, to form a heart. Repeat with remaining dough for second loaf Cover and let rise until light and doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Bake at 350 F for 20 to 25 minutes; remove from baking sheet.

My Notes:

Okay, lots of notes here! The biggest issue I had with this recipe, which almost kept me from trying it, was the fact that there isn't any specification of what the "filling" should be. The recipe just states, "Combine filling and sprinkle 1/2 of it over dough..." but there is nothing anywhere stating what the filling is.

From what I know of coffee cake, the filling is usually a cinnamon + sugar mixture. So, I decided to go with that. However, since there were two loaves, I thought it might be fun to make one red (for Valentine's Day) by using strawberry jam for a filling. Jerry thought it was a good idea, until I prepped the loaf and he said it looked like I was making a vagina--hahaha!

In total, I probably ended up using 4 cups of flour (including the flour I spread on the counter to roll the dough).

I heated the water, butter, and milk in the microwave; I probably should have used the stove, considering this is such an old recipe, but I made sure to stir it often and make sure it didn't get boiling hot.

Rolling out the dough was very easy once I had enough flour mixed in. I made it as rectangular as I could.

It took a lot more jam than I thought it would--probably about 3/4 cup to 1 cup? (It looks like ketchup, I know!)

For the one with the cinnamon + sugar mixture, I melted 1/4 cup of butter as specified in the recipe, and then liberally sprinkled with a combination of the cinnamon and sugar. (I keep cinnamon and sugar mixed together in a shaker jar--probably a 4:1 sugar to cinnamon ratio?). I made sure to spread the butter and the cinnamon mixture all the way to all the edges.

To roll it, first, you start at the long edge. You roll it up tightly (which is kind of hard because it's slippery with the filling). 

Then I put the seam-side up, took one end of the roll and folded the roll in half (with the seam sandwiched in the middle) and I pinched the two short ends together. 

Then, starting at the fold, you use scissors to cut through both layers of the roll. The sides will just kind of fall into position, but it basically looks heart-shaped when you're done.

The recipe specified to cut to about an inch from the short (pinched) edge, and after taking the photo above, I ended up cutting it a little farther because it didn't seem like it was cut far enough.

I baked the one with jam for 22 minutes before deciding it was done, and then set the timer for 22 minutes for the cinnamon + sugar one. I think I baked that one too long--I should have only done 20 minutes. It didn't burn though.

I was very surprised to discover that I liked the one with jam better. I'm usually not a jam person, but I liked that it was more moist and I thought it had more flavor. The cinnamon + sugar one was pretty dry. It definitely needed some frosting! ;)

Overall, I wasn't crazy about these Sweetheart Coffee Cakes. I wouldn't make them again. (And I actually wasn't even tempted to eat more than a couple of bites to taste-test.) Maybe I'm just missing out on an amazing filling that I don't know about--I'm super bummed it wasn't in the book!--but everyone in the family thought they were just okay. And definitely not pretty enough for Instagram or Pinterest photos!

If you happen to make this and have better luck with the filling and/or the presentation, please email me a photo! I'd love to see.


  1. I have made something similar to this before. The filling was baby food fruit. I agree a frosting of some sort looks like it would be a good addition.

  2. Jerry’s comment about the strawberry sweetheart coffee cake looking like a vagina cracked me up. He was right.

    1. Cracked me up too!!! I laughed right out loud!! Thank you for such a bright spot in my day!🤣

  3. Hearts. Vaginas. Valentine's Day. Maybe that was a secret family joke not included in the recipe! What about a caramel glaze with pecans as a filling for one?

  4. I have to agree with Jerry! Lol

  5. Maybe a glaze for the cinnamon/sugar would have made it less dry. Coffee cake is typically on the dry/bread lime side. I think it wss really something that you found you're somewhat related to the contributor.

  6. Vulva, Jerry, vulva. 😂 And yes, they both sort of resemble that anatomical part.

  7. Hahaha Jerry's comment cracked me up! I think these are a really great idea for Valentine's Day though! Super cute!


I used to publish ALL comments (even the mean ones) but I recently chose not to publish those. I always welcome constructive comments/criticism, but there is no need for unnecessary rudeness/hate. But please--I love reading what you have to say! (This comment form is super finicky, so I apologize if you're unable to comment)

Featured Posts

Blog Archive