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My parents let me play in the kitchen when I was a kid. With the oven and pantry, the mixer and cookbooks, even the occasional knife. Of course, this was long before helicopter parenting and precious snowflakes and trophies for finishing in 20th place.

The coffee cake recipe I’m sharing is one I’ve been making since I was 8 years old and had begun playing in the kitchen. The cake was the first true dish I prepared (eggs and toast don’t count).

The recipe comes from the 1973 printing of “Betty Crocker’s Cookbook,” the famous one sporting a vibrant orange-red cover with food shots arranged like slices of a pie.

You very likely own a copy; your mother and grandmother almost certainly do.

The coffee cake is utterly easy and practically foolproof. Over the years, I’ve tinkered with the recipe (which I’ve made hundreds of times), adding a bit more topping or, for Reno’s high altitude, making ingredient adjustments. The coffee cake has become a family tradition for holiday mornings (and beyond).

In fact, I’m going to make this favorite on New Year’s Day 2017, which happens to be a Sunday, an especially suitable time for a coffee cake. I hope you try the cake, too. We can all start our diets on Monday.

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FAVORITE COFFEE CAKE

For batter:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup shortening

3/4 cup milk

1 egg

Heat oven to 375 F. Grease round layer pan, 9 inches by 1 1/2 inches, or square pan, 8 inches by 8 inches by 2 inches or 9 inches by 9 inches by 2 inches. Blend all ingredients; beat vigorously 1/2 minute. Spread in pan.

For topping and to bake:

1/3 cup brown sugar (packed)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons firm butter

Mix all ingredients until crumbly. Sprinkle topping over batter. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm. Makes 9 to 12 servings.

Recipe from “Betty Crocker’s Cookbook” by General Mills (1973, Golden Press)

Johnathan L. Wright is the food and drink editor of RGJ Media. Join @RGJTaste on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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