I know COVID-19 is still out there and we still have to be cautious, but I can't help getting excited about doing things I would have previously taken for granted - like playdates, for example. Having a good group of mom friends with kids of similar ages is a wonderful thing and it's great to be able to meet up for coffee, cake and have the kids run off to the backyard for a little while so the grown ups can have a chat.

I was visiting a friend the other day and told her I would bring some cake to have with our coffee. In Canada, coffee cake is a thing, but it's not like the coffee cake we have here in Ireland (which is actually a coffee flavour). Our coffee cake is dense - almost a banana-bread-like texture - and not too sweet. It usually has some kind of crunchy, sweet topping, maybe a glaze and a flavour running through the cake, like blueberries or cinnamon.

Cinnamon roll cake is a favourite recipe in my home province and makes a regular appearance during coffee breaks and visits with friends and family. I decided to make one to share with my mom friends. It offers everything you might love about a cinnamon roll - the crunchy exterior, sweet brown sugar filling and a soft, cakey texture - all in one bite.

If you don't like cinnamon, you can leave it out - the brown sugar and butter mixture gets swirled into the batter and drops down into the cake for lovely little bursts of sweetness.

The cake itself is really easy to put together - just a few pantry-staple ingredients and then 40 minutes in the oven. It should be eaten slightly warm on the same day, or stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

Cinnamon roll cake

Makes 15 portions


For the cake:

215g caster sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

125g butter, melted

490g plain flour

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

400ml buttermilk

For the cinnamon filling:

100g softened butter

235g soft brown sugar

2 tbsp plain flour

1 tbsp cinnamon

For the glaze:

300g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla

50ml milk


1 Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a rectangular casserole dish with parchment paper (leaving enough to slightly hang over the sides).

2 In a large bowl, combine the caster sugar, eggs and vanilla. Beat until pale and ribbony in texture, around three to five minutes. Add the melted butter and mix again to combine.

3 Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix lightly. Then, add the buttermilk and mix until a smooth cake batter is formed. Pour the batter in the prepared baking dish and spread evenly. Set aside to make the filling.

4 In another bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, butter and flour. Bring this together into a dough-like texture (I use my hands for this, see the video above) and then drop the pieces of dough into the cake batter. Use a butter knife to swirl the pieces into the batter.

5 Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.

6 To make the glaze, combine the milk, icing sugar and vanilla in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Drizzle generously over the top of the cake.

7 Serve warm with coffee and tea (you could also bake this as a muffin for an indulgent breakfast).

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