Emerald Isle Coffee Cake

My mother, Jenness, loved her her sweets. She especially loved cinnamon. Coffee cakes, cinnamon rolls, cinnamon toast, cinnamon jumbles and cinnamon donuts were all treats she loved to bake. As many of you already know I love cinnamon just as much. Since my mom passed away nearly 12 years ago I find much joy in baking some of her favorite recipes. I had completely forgotten about her Emerald Isle coffee cake until I realized that the Starbucks Reduced Fat Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake I have been ordering every other day with green tea was a similar version to hers.

A piece of paper with the recipe typed on it literally fell out of an old cookbook of hers. As soon as I saw it memories came flooding back of my mom’s love of coffee cakes. I had to make it right away. But of course, hers wasn’t allergen free so a little work had to be done to the original version.

After numerous tests and substitutions I had perfected the new and updated Emerald Isle Coffee Cake, now made without dairy, eggs or nuts. My whole family devours this coffee cake now, especially John. It is perfect for a weekend brunch or as a weekday after school snack. Enjoy!


½ c. dairy free margarine

1 c. granulated sugar

2 T. water

2 c. unbleached all purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 c. dairy free sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Cinnamon filling (below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a Bundt pan with dairy free baking spray.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Add water, dairy free sour cream and vanilla. Beat well.

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt with a wire whisk. Add to margarine mixture and beat well. Pour half of batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with half of cinnamon filling. Add remaining batter and top with the rest of the cinnamon filling. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely, turn onto a serving plate and dust with confectioner’s sugar.


Combine 1/3 c. brown sugar, ¼ c. granulated sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Mix well.

Yield: 1 cake

16 Responses

  1. This looks yummy. Just found your blog through nut-free mom. She recommended you. We are dealing with multiple food allergies and she thought I could get some great recipes over here. Glad I stopped by.

    • thanks so much elaine! i have more to share…but if there is something specific you’re looking for just let me know!

  2. I have already made this recipe several times to rave reviews- it doesn’t even taste egg-free, and you don’t even miss the nuts. Great work!

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  5. I was wondering if you still had the paper with the original recipe, and would email it to me. My grandfathers neighbor used to bake the emerald isle coffee cake for us. This just brought back some amazing memories.

  6. Kelly, I have been meaning to post a follow up comment on here forever. . .this is my family’s all time favorite recipe now. My 2 and 3 year old boys love to help me make it and lick the batter from my beaters when we are done! It is much like a coffee cake at a favorite family restaurant by our house that, obviously, we could no longer eat once my 3 year old was diagnosed!
    This summer, my dear Irish grandmother passed away from lung cancer. It was a really difficult summer for my family, and there was a lot of stress, pain, hurt feelings, anger, and sadness as she struggled with the final stages of her illness. This cake was like the glue that held my family together. The boys and I would make it and my mom would take pieces to the care center to my grandma. Even though she could barely eat, she treasured her piece of cake and would keep it right by her side during the day and take little tiny bites of it. The fact that she loved the cake so much made me so happy. . .my grandma was a baker for 20 years at a local grocery store and is the one who taught me to bake and cook, so to make something that she loved (without eggs and nuts! ) was so gratifying. I made it for our very last gathering as a whole family, and even though it was awkward and sad, at least everyone had cake to talk about. 🙂 So thank you for this recipe. It has really blessed our family. Funny how a recipe can do that!

    • I can’t thank you enough Jen for your comment. It had me sobbing, because I have been in the very situation you were in. My mom died 13 years ago, and I remember her wanting certain foods toward the end, even little bites. I suppose it was because she wanted to enjoy the taste and remember what she used to love. To know that your expert baker grandma loved that cake is something I will always treasure. It will forever bond your Irish grandmother to my Irish mother. 🙂 I am so sorry for your loss, and truly appreciate your taking the time to share your very special story. I’ll never forget it. xoxoxo

  7. Can I use regular butter and sour cream instead of the dairy free? I just have to make something that is egg free. Thanks!

  8. Kelly, Happy St. Pat’s! I’m making this again. . .one in my bundt pan and one in my grandma’s that she left me so I have an extra to take over to my mom tonight. It’s our first St. Pat’s day without her and this recipe will make it special even though it’s a little sad 🙂 Thanks again for everything you do!

  9. I made this for Easter brunch for my nephew who is allergic to tree nuts, peanuts, and eggs. My husband loves crunchy, cinnamon streusel so this was perfect for everyone!

  10. I have been making a Sour Cream Coffee Cake from a Junior League cookbook for years. My husband asked me to bake a dairy free cake to bring to work in consideration of a co-worker’s allergies. This cake is the perfect alternative! Thank you!