“So I have a complaint about your snickerdoodle recipe!” I told New York Times bestselling author Stella Parks as I interviewed her recently at Omnivore Books.
Stella and I have been friends for years, but I had to be honest with her. “How come your snickerdoodle recipe uses baking powder? For me, classic snickerdoodles have baking soda and cream of tartar!”
Get the book! BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts by Stella Parks
Stella actually had a great answer for this, and she even addresses it in the book: The original recipe for snickerdoodles was distributed through various baking powder companies, including a national advertising campaign for Cleveland Baking Powder Company. Stella wanted to honor the folks that helped make the recipe so popular, so she stuck with baking powder in her recipe.
That's well and good, but for me, the taste of nostalgia when I bite into a snickerdoodle, one of the very first cookies I learned to bake, is the slightly tart and sweet flavor that only baking soda and cream of tartar can impart.
Stella digs even further into the history of snickerdoodles in her book – and in fact, all this historical information on each recipe is one of my favorite things about Bravetart.
The history of Snickerdoodles is a bit convoluted, but apparently, it's related to a vintage coffee cake recipe called "snipdoodles." This was a quick coffee cake dusted with cinnamon sugar, and Stella discovered that the recipe was super easy to duplicate just by adding some extra milk to snickerdoodle cookie dough.
Stella’s recipe for Snip Doodles calls for thinly spreading the batter on a large rimmed baking sheet, but I like to make a slightly thicker version baked in a 9 x 13 in baking pan, like brownies or a sheet cake. And though she recommends using freshly grated cinnamon in the recipe, which she told me has a brighter heat and aroma than just plain ground cinnamon, she told me substituting regular ground cinnamon works fine.
This quick and easy coffee cake has the same flavor profile as snickerdoodles, as well as the same signature crinkly top. Serve it warm from the oven with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, or just appreciate it as an afternoon snack.
Snickerdoodle Coffee Cake (Snip Doodles)
Recipe adapted from from BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts by Stella Parks. Copyright © 2017 by Stella Parks.
- For the cake batter:
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) refined coconut oil, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) white granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon iodized table salt)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg, straight from the fridge
- 2 1/3 cups (10 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (8 ounces) milk, any percentage
- For topping:
- 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Stand mixer
Preheat the oven to 350°F:
Spray a 9x13-inch pan with cooking oil, then line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper, letting 1-inch of the paper hang over the sides.
Make the batter:
Combine butter, coconut oil, sugar, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed to moisten, then increase to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, pausing to scrape with a flexible spatula halfway through.
With the mixer running, crack in the egg and continue beating until smooth. Add a third of the flour, then a third of the milk, alternating between the two, until fully incorporated and smooth. Fold once or twice with a flexible spatula to ensure the batter is well mixed from the bottom up.
Pour the batter in the prepared baking and spread into an even layer. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon for the topping and sprinkle over the top of the batter.
Bake the bars:
Bake in the oven for 18 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few crumbs attached.
Cool for 15 to 20 minutes in the pan then carefully remove the entire cake from the pan by grabbing the sides of the parchment paper and lifting directly up from the pan and moving the cake to a cutting board. “Snip” the cake into squares with a knife or pizza cutter. Serve warm.
Wrapped in foil, Snip Doodles will keep up to 3 days at room temperature.