This is a delicate cake with a crunchy nut-coconut topping. I discovered the recipe in my grandmother's recipe file, which I inherited many years ago. She was a farmer's wife through the 1930s to 1980s. On the recipe, she wrote it came from the August 10, 1980 edition of Missouri Ruralist. I used real butter versus the margarine I know she would have used. I also mixed the batter in a food processor, which she didn't own. I can't picture my grandfather eating such a lady-like coffee cake before heading out to the fields in the morning. My guess is she served this to friends, visitors, or her women’s church group on her lovely china dessert plates (which I also inherited). —Linda Ditch
cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
To make the crunchy topping: In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the butter, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon until crumbly. (The easiest way is to rub everything together with your fingers.) Stir in the coconut and/or nuts. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray the bottom of a 9-inch square pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
To make the cake, place all of the ingredients into the food processor (putting in the liquid ingredients first, and then the dry.) Whiz everything together until well blended, about 1 minute. Pour into the pan. Cover the top with the crunch topping.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with just a few crumbs. Serve warm.