Cake flour is the not-so-secret ingredient that helps keep these coffee cake biscuits, which come from Chef Amanda Mack of Crust By Mack Bakery in Baltimore, Maryland, super soft and tender. Topped with crumbs that are both lightly spiced and slightly crunchy, these coffee cake biscuits are good any time of day: for breakfast served with cinnamon-maple butter, for an afternoon snack served with jam, or for dessert served à la mode. The choice is yours!
To make the crumb topping: In a small bowl, use a fork to combine the flour, sugars, spices, and salt.
Add the maple syrup or vanilla to the melted butter, then pour it into the dry mixture. Mix with the fork until the mixture is clumpy and crumbs have formed. Set aside.
To make the coffee cake biscuits: Line a baking sheet with parchment. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Place a standard box grater into the bowl on top of the dry ingredients. Remove the butter from the freezer and grate it using the side with large holes, letting the strands of butter fall into the dry ingredients below.
Use your hands to lightly toss the grated butter with the dry mixture to ensure all the butter is completely coated with flour. Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in the buttermilk.
Use a flexible spatula to gently stir together the butter/flour mixture and buttermilk. Once the dough begins to come together, transfer it to a lightly floured surface and gently knead it together until no dry bits remain.
Gently pat the dough out to a large 8" square. The dough should be about 1" thick.
Use a 2" square cutter or a sharp knife to cut out the biscuits. Gently combine any dough scraps and re-pat it out to 1" thick. Cut additional biscuits from the remaining dough. You should end up with about 15 biscuits that are 2" squares.
Place the biscuits on the prepared pan and brush the tops with buttermilk. Add a generous tablespoon of crumb topping to each biscuit; the topping should cover the entire top of the biscuit.
Place the pan of biscuits in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. This will help them hold their shape when baked. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Bake the coffee cake biscuits for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.
To make the cinnamon-maple butter: In a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all the ingredients, starting with the lower amounts of maple syrup and cinnamon. Mix by hand with a flexible spatula, with an electric hand mixer, or with a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater attachment. Mix until combined. Taste the butter and add additional maple syrup and/or cinnamon, if desired.
Serve the coffee cake biscuits warm with cinnamon-maple butter, jam, or a scoop of ice cream.
Storage information: Store coffee cake biscuits, well-wrapped, at room temperature for up to 3 days; freeze for longer storage. Reheat before serving.
Tips from our Bakers
To make gluten-free, substitute an equal amount of King Arthur Measure for Measure Flour in place of the cake flour. Add an additional 3 to 4 tablespoons (42g to 57g) of buttermilk to the biscuit dough to achieve a shaggy consistency that can hold together, and bake as directed.