Prize Winning Recipes: 1950 Apple Coffee Cake

During my research, I come across a lot of interesting recipes. One of the categories I have accumulated a bit on is prize-winning recipes. I decided that I would start testing them and share the ones that are truly worthy of their award.

So these recipes can fall into two types. First are recipes that have taken first place in a fair or festival that newspapers are sent out to cover. These are usually chosen by a committee of judges selected by the fair. The second are winners of newspaper contests. These were quite popular in the mid-century when a columnist would put out a theme for an ingredient such as chicken or a holiday such as Halloween. Readers would submit recipes and from those, the top three were usually picked. The top prize was usually anywhere from 1 to 5 dollars. Now, these recipes I am not sure how rigorous the testing was as it is not really broken down anywhere.


The recipe I am sharing today is from a 1950s newspaper contest. The winner won 5 dollars which today (according to an inflation calculator) is around 60 dollars. It is for an Apple Coffee Cake and I totally get why this recipe won. The first time I made it was delicious and needed very few tweaks. The batter rose to a nice fluffy texture and combined well with the brown sugar crumb topping. The apples held their shape yet had a nice jammy texture when bitten into. Let’s just say I was quite smitten at first bite.


That does not mean I didn’t make any little adjustments. The first thing I changed was to give an actual measurement to the cinnamon as the newspaper forgot the print any. The other tiny change I made was an accidental one. The original recipe calls for white vinegar and for some reason I did not notice I was out. So for the first run, I subbed in apple cider vinegar. I quite liked the end result so I kept it in the recipe. Lastly, the recipe called for thinly sliced apples which can be quite subjective. I have a twelve-slice apple cutter which ended up being the perfect size to keep the apple slice’s shape yet bake it to perfection. I ended up using just under three apples. Also, I would recommend leaving some space between the apples  for the batter to puff up and get crunchy with the topping to contrast with the softer apples.

Honestly, this has to be one of my favorite recipes that I have found through my journey in vintage recipes. While it is good as just a down-home breakfast/brunch coffee cake, it could easily be elevated to dessert status with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of delicious caramel sauce. I also think this recipe is perfect to play around with to create some variations. I think a berry version might be amazing.


Apple Coffee Cake

  • Servings: 9
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A delicious apple coffee cake that one first prize!


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced baking apples such as Granny Smith, Golden Delicious or Honey Crisps (about 3)

For Topping:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and well grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
  3. Cut in the shortening.
  4. In a small bowl beat the egg, milk and vinegar together. Add to the flour mixture and stir until all the flour is moistened. This will be a sticky dough.
  5. Spread into the baking pan and arrange the sliced apples on top of the batter.
  6. Mix together the topping ingredients and sprinkle over the top.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes or until cake is baked through.
  8. Eat warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!


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