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Peanut butter coffee cake was a lunchroom favorite

By Betty Shimabukuro


We never had peanut butter coffee cake in any of the school cafeterias in any of the three institutions of my public school career. I want my money back.

Thanks to Patsy Mori Yanaga I have discovered this school food's existence, and thanks to Jade Tom I have the recipe.

"I attended Kapalama Elementary School in the 1960s and the cafeteria manager at that time was Mrs. Matsuda (she was a very nice manager)," Yanaga wrote. "I remember eating a peanut butter coffee cake which was very delicious. Is there anyone out there who remembers this and has this recipe? Please!"

She signed her email "Peanut Butter Lover."

A few weeks after her request was printed here, Tom responded. "I was the baker at Kapalama Elementary in 2000-2006, started as a helper in 1993," she wrote. Although the time frame is not the same, I would venture to guess that this recipe is very close to what Yanaga remembers. Or as close as we are going to get without a time machine.

And whatever, it is delicious. Like a peanut butter cookie in a soft cake form. And it didn't hurt that I served it with a Ghirardelli chocolate sauce that's been in my cupboard since Christmas.

Note that Tom gives ingredient measurements by weight. This is the most precise way to tackle the recipe, but for those who don't have scales, I have added approximate volume measurements.

I baked up a pan and brought it to work, upon which I learned that two of my co-workers could also call up fond memories of peanut butter coffee cake from their school days.

I was robbed.


1/2 pound butter (2 sticks)
1-1/4 pound sugar (about 2-1/2 cups)
1 pound 4 ounces peanut butter (about 2-1/2 cups)
3 large eggs
1 pound 2 ounces flour (about 3-1/2 cups)
1-1/4 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup powdered milk
2 cups water
1 cup raisins, optional

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 13-by-9-inch pan.

Cream butter with sugar, then beat in peanut butter and eggs. 

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in powdered milk. Add to peanut butter mixture, alternating with water. Batter will be thick but should not be chunky (if so, add a little more water). Fold in raisins, if using. Spread in pan. Bake 60 to 90 minutes, until a pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Nutritional information unavailable.

Note: Rather than buy a box of powdered milk to get just 1/2 cup, I used 2 cups of milk in place of the water. If you are trying to exactly duplicate the Kapalama cake, you'll need powdered milk. Otherwise my way is fine.

Write "By Request," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813. Or email requests to

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