The first time I tested this coffee cake in the office, everyone was confused. “Where is the coffee flavor?” “You used coffee?”

Add this to the list of baked good names that don’t translate well.

Immediately after trying this cake, my coworker exclaimed that she would have to grab her cup of pu’er tea. Call it coffee cake, pu’er tea cake, milk cake… grab your drink of choice and enjoy a thick slice. This cake is perfect with anything. A tender buttery cake, with plenty of brown sugar crumbs.

I added rose petals on top and throughout to add a pop of color and an interesting, subtle flavor. I’ve always hated those recipes that call for some really obscure ingredient – like rose petals – so feel free to omit or replace the petals. You can try adding jam to the inside layer, or sprinkling ground pu’er tea on instead.

Coffee Cake

Makes one 9×9 inch cake


½ c butter, softened
¾ c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
¾ c milk

½ c butter, softened
2 tbsp cinnamon
¾ c flour
1 c packed brown sugar
¼ c rose petals


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9×9 inch baking pan.
  2. With a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar, scraping down the sides occasionally. Add the vanilla and egg, mix in.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add one half of it to the mixer, and when mostly combined, add the milk. Once the milk is mostly incorporated, add the rest of the flour.
  4. To make filling: in a small bowl, pinch together the softened butter, flour, sugar and cinnamon until soft crumbs form. Add about 1/2 of the rose petals.
  5. Pour in ½ of cake batter into prepared baking pan. Sprinkle ½ the filling over top, then pour in remaining cake batter, and spread carefully across the top, disturbing the filling layer as little as possible. Sprinkle the filling over the top.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Sprinkle the remaining rose petals over the top. Enjoy!


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