Cinnamon Upside-Down Coffee Cake


It's as if gooey sticky buns and upside-down cake had a baby.

30 rolls

As much as we love a good egg casserole or pot of cheese grits, the sweet side of breakfast and brunch is undoubtedly the show pony of the whole meal. Even as an adult, it's hard not to get excited about a stack of homemade buttermilk pancakes or French toast casserole. For your next Saturday morning lineup, consider this cinnamon-swirled coffee cake that's straight out of our 1980s recipe book archives. Like a mix between sticky buns and upside-down cake, this recipe is just the sweet touch to top off any spread. It's a combination of soft, tender rolls filled with a cinnamon-sugar mixture and topped with an ooey-gooey pecan topping that's also layered underneath to get that signature upside-down cake caramelization. After baking, you simply turn out onto a serving platter and watch the eyes pop all over the kitchen. This vintage reader-submitted recipe from 1985 proves that tasty coffee cake never goes out of style.

Cinnamon Upside Down Coffee Cake
Photography: Caitlin Bensel, Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall



  • 2 (1/4-oz.) envelopes active dry yeast

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt

  • 6 cups (about 25 1/2 oz.) all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for work surface

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (105ºF to 115ºF)

  • 3/4 cup (6 oz.) salted butter, softened and divided

  • 2 large eggs

  • Cooking spray

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Nutty Topping

  • 1 1/2 cups toasted pecan halves

  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar

  • 3/4 cup (6 oz.) salted butter, melted

  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup          


  1. Prepare the Dough: Stir together yeast, salt, 2 cups of the flour, and 1/2 cup of the sugar in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add warm water and 1/2 cup of the butter; beat on medium speed until completely combined and smooth, about 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl, if needed.

  2. Beat in eggs and 2 cups of the flour on low speed; increase speed to medium, and beat until thoroughly combined. Gradually add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. About 1 1/2 cups. (Dough should remain soft and slightly sticky.)

  3. Turn dough out onto a heavily floured surface; knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.

  4. Shape dough into a ball, and place in a bowl coated generously with cooking spray, turning to grease top of dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85ºF), free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours, or cover dough and let rise in refrigerator overnight.

  5. Prepare the Nutty Topping: Combine pecans, brown sugar, melted butter, and corn syrup in a medium bowl. Spoon half of mixture into a lightly greased 9-inch square pan. Repeat procedure with remaining pecan mixture and another lightly greased 9-inch square pan.

  6. Punch dough down. Divide dough in half; shape each portion into a ball. Turn 1 portion out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 15- x 9-inch rectangle. Stir together cinnamon and remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a small bowl. Spread surface of dough with 2 tablespoons of the softened butter. Sprinkle dough rectangle with half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Roll up jellyroll fashion, beginning at long side. Firmly pinch edge and ends to seal. Cut into 15 (1-inch-thick) slices. Place slices, cut sides up, in 1 prepared pan. Repeat procedure with remaining dough, 2 tablespoons softened butter, and cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place slices in remaining prepared pan. Cover pans, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

  7. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown and done, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool 2 minutes, and turn out onto a serving platter.

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