Great Lakes Cinnamon Praline Coffee Cake

Jump to Recipe We don’t know why it’s called “Great Lakes” but we do know this recipe has been one of my Mom’s favorites for most of her life, probably clipped from a farm newspaper or magazine by my Grandmother years ago. I call it “praline” for the way the brown sugar and butter caramelize on the pecans in the filling, but there’s no need to make any actual caramel for this recipe.

Looking for illustrations for this post, all I had to do was figure out when Mother’s Day was each year or go back to my Mom’s birthday, since any time I make her breakfast for a special occasion this is most likely to be on the menu. It definitely starts a day off nicely to have the smell of cinnamon and brown sugar in the air!

You can see from the recipe card how well used this has been over the years – though we always double it now, since the original recipe led to disappointment when not everyone got a second piece later:

Great Lakes Cinnamon Praline Coffee Cake

Our family favorite coffee cake with layers of cinnamon and pecans in a rich brown sugar streusel

If I want to save time in the morning, it’s easy to mix up the filling and the dry ingredients ahead of time and just stir up the batter and layer it to get it into the oven.



  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla


  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon


  1. Combine dry ingredients for batter (flour, baking powder, sugar) and mix in the shortening thoroughly.
  2. Combine the wet ingredients for batter (milk, egg, vanilla) and stir into the dry ingredients.
  3. Combine the filling ingredients – I usually melt the butter in the microwave in a big bowl, then stir in everything else so I don’t lose any of it or have to wash another dish
  4. Spread half the batter into a greased 13×9″ pan. Press down on the filling and mark half of it, so you can remove the other half and sprinkle it over the batter. Repeat the layers.
  5. Bake at 350 °F for 40 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly touched or a toothpick tests clean in the center (avoid testing the filling, that’s likely to stay sticky when hot)

Great Lakes Coffee Cake

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