Yum Peaceful Cooking: Mt.Gleason Junior High Home Ec. Coffee Cake

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mt.Gleason Junior High Home Ec. Coffee Cake

I went to school in a little town on the outer fringes of the Los Angeles County. Tucked into the foothills is a (what was called back then) junior high school named Mt. Gleason. I spent 7th, 8th and 9th grades there. Elementary school ended at 6th grade in those days. High school was a 3 year program and started at 10th grade, not 9th like it does now. In fact, if you were in high school for 4 years, it was because you screwed up and you'd get teased for being in the "four year program".

Anyways, back to jr. high. I loved the selection of electives....art, choir, play productions, stage crew, typing, drafting, etc etc. As in introduction to these electives, us 7th graders got a "sample" version of our chosen 4 classes throughout the year. I spent several weeks in each...Cooking, Sewing, Agriculture and Play Productions (or was it drafting? Maybe play productions came later). What fun! These were the classes I looked forward to each day. They made history, English, math, science, and geography bearable (although marine biology was pretty cool! especially when we went on a whale watching field trip).

But I'm here to talk about the cooking class in the home economics building (imagine that...a "middle school" with a whole building just for home economics). I can still picture the class room with the various cooking stations. And yes, there were boys in the class. Lord, I would not have wanted to be that teacher! Can you imagine a classroom full of 7th grade boys and girls....in the kitchen, with knives and FLAMES!! Amazingly enough, my class didn't experience any catastrophes. No fires, no amputated appendages. No food poisoning.

What we did experience that I can remember are Silver Dollar Pancakes and Pumpkin Bread. This is where I learned the proper way of measuring ingredients. I learned that brown sugar is packed. Flours are sifted. Liquids are measured on a flat surface...not in your hand, with the measuring cup held at eye level. This is where I learned that eggs are cracked into a separate bowl, individually, before adding to the ingredients in case it's bad. I truly believe that cooking should be a requirement for all students. Male and female. It's a basic life tool. Without this skill, if they don't learn it at home, they will initially rely on fast food and microwavable dishes until they decide to learn on their own....IF they decide to ever learn on their own. It breaks my heart to see families who eat out every night. Which means...those kids are growing up on fast food. (Don't get me started!!)

This recipe for coffee cake is one I don't remember actually making in class. Not that it didn't happen....it's just that my memory, for some reason did not retain the coffee cake. Which is weird. Everyone else that I went to school (with whom I'm currently still in contact) remembers making coffee cake. Someone, somewhere, shared the recipe that they still had (and I'd think that in itself was weird, except I still have the pumpkin bread recipe assignment, on the gold paper with the purplish ink...awww...memories of the ditto paper).

Its a wonderful recipe. Not only because of the history....but it truly is a delicious coffee cake. I made mine in a square dish. I had to bake it longer than if it were made in a tube pan (as instructed...I hope the teacher doesn't dock my grade) because the center took longer to cook. Even though I extended the cooking time...it was still (here comes one of the worst words used in the cooking world.....) moist. It's not stingy with the streusel topping either. Aaaaand....it's easy enough for the kids to make. I wonder...how many kids signed up for the cooking class...just to make this coffee cake.

Mt. Gleason Home Ec. Coffee Cake
Printable Version

1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts (I used pecans)
1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces

1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350' F, grease and flour a 10" tube pan.

For the topping; mix together the flour, brown sugar, salt and walnuts. Add in the butter and with your hands, rub into the ingredients until crumbly. Don't over do it...you don't want a paste. Set aside.

For the cake: in a medium bowl, mix together the flours, baking soda and baking powder.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and and sugar until fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla and mix well. With the mixer on low, add in half of the dry ingredients and mix just until blended. Add in the sour cream, mix until just blended then add in the remaining dry ingredients and once again, mix until just blended, scraping down the sides as needed.

Spread half of the batter into the pan. Sprinkle half of the topping on the batter. Carefully spread the rest of the batter over the topping and then top it all off with the remaining topping.

Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

(note: the lack of salt in the cake ingredients is not a mistake)

Correction! Apparently I was wrong about where this recipe came from (no wonder I don't remember making it.) It's not from the home ec. class....it's from the cafeteria! The rest of the story stands true :)


  1. I can see why this cake would be a favorite. I know I'd have a hard time refraining from eating half the cake at one sitting.

  2. Dang, wish I went to your school with all those cool class options! The only things I remember from Jr. High Home Ec are some sort of oat bar (really good) and a disgusting tuna casserole. To add insult to injury re: the tuna dish, our class was divided into groups of 4 and had to recreate it - mine flunked! I couldn't for the life of me convince the other 3 that you had to COOK THE PASTA FIRST. They insisted I was wrong because it didn't tell you that in the recipe. I begged the teacher to correct them before it was too late, but she basically said that was my problem. If I couldn't convince them, my grade would be the same as theirs even though I knew better. Grrr! :(

  3. I use to eat a piece of this every day for breakfast at Mt. Gleason 28 yrs ago. So glad I found this. Thanks

  4. I've been looking for this recipe to make for my mama, she was raised in Tujunga, and after having us kids we moved to las vegas. Shes going to be so excited! Thank you!!!


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