Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake & 10+ Other “Last-Minute” Gifts

We interrupt our Home for the Holidays … Gluten-Free Style event for just a moment here at gfe

Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake (Gluten Free, Dairy Free) from GFE

Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake (Recipe Makes Two Loaves!)

This gluten-free, dairy-free Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake is one of those “necessity is the mother of invention” type recipes. One simple substitution and some tiny tweaks and one ends up with a marvelous new recipe! In that way, today’s recipe is much like my Magic Oat Bars. In the case of the Magic Oat Bars, I decided to substitute oats for graham crackers because gluten-free graham crackers are not something I keep on hand (or have even ever eaten that I recall). With this Coffee Cake, I originally set out to make my Perfect Pound Cake, but had run out of granulated sugar. I use granulated sugar so rarely these days, but it turned out that I was also out of coconut palm sugar (my fallback sweetener of late). So I decided to use brown sugar, but a lesser amount, to create a coffee cake. I also sprinkled a cinnamon-sugar mixture (which I do keep on hand) in my loaf pans and a little more on my loaves before I baked them. The resulting Coffee Cake was wonderful! It definitely had a Coffee Cake texture and flavor. In fact, it reminded me of the Amish Friendship Bread from my gluten-full days, but it contained neither yeast nor vanilla pudding, both of which Friendship Bread typically require.

The second time I made this coffee cake, I also went for a cinnamon swirl effect. The cinnamon-sugar mixture swirled throughout the cake made the coffee cake even more delicious. It did take away a little from the Friendship Bread effect—that sort of dense middle that looks like it might need to cook a bit longer (but doesn’t)—but the cinnamon-sugar “infusion” effect is lovely in both taste and appearance. This coffee cake also has a few little air pockets, which just add to this coffee cake’s charm and homemade “artisan” effect in my opinion.

The recipe makes two loaves, so you can keep one and gift one if you like. Note that you’ll see both versions of this coffee cake (without or with cinnamon swirl) in the photos.

Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake (Gluten Free, Dairy Free) from GFE

Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake (Gluten Free, Dairy Free) Slice from GFE

Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake (Gluten Free, Dairy Free) gfe

Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake
Recipe type: Breakfast, Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake reminds me of Friendship Bread, which seems appropriate as it's great to give to or share with your best buddies.
Coffee Cake Main Ingredients
  • 2 ¼ cups gluten-free all-purpose flour mix*
  • 1 ½ tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ cup light olive oil
  • 1 to 1 ¼ cups brown sugar (may use even less depending on your personal taste)
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • ⅔ cup coconut milk
Cinnamon Swirl Mix for Coating or “Filling”
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar (I used date sugar)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. (See notes.)
  2. Grease pans and then sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar coating, tilting pans again and again until well coated. Set aside.
  3. Combine flour, xanthan gum, sea salt, and baking powder in an extra large measuring cup or separate bowl. Set aside.
  4. Pour olive oil into large bowl, and slowly mix in sugar and vanilla extract.
  5. Add eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition.
  6. Add milk. Mix 2 minutes. Gradually add dry ingredients into wet ingredients, mixing well.
  7. Spoon or pour a little of the batter into two prepared loaf pans. Sprinkle cinnamon swirl filling over all. (See notes for further directions/variations.) Top with remaining batter.
  8. Bake for about 40 – 45 minutes.
  9. Test for doneness with a toothpick. (As mentioned earlier, the cake may not look done in the center when you slice it, so don’t skip this step.) I like my coffee cake crisper on the edges, so I turn the oven off when my coffee cake tests done, but I leave my coffee cake in a few minutes longer. Sometimes I leave the oven door open for this final step, just to ensure that I don’t overcook my cake.
*I can’t tolerate many of the healthier, gluten-free flours; e.g., sorghum, buckwheat, and I like to make a more economical flour mix as well. Therefore, my gluten-free flour mix is 3 parts Asian white rice flour and 2 parts cornstarch. I gently mix three one-lb bags of the Asian white rice flour and two one-lb boxes of cornstarch in a very large bowl and then store the mix in several airtight containers (like large glass jars). No refrigeration is needed. But feel free to use whichever all-purpose flour mix you use most often for baking. If you're not gluten free, you may use all-purpose flour and omit the xanthan gum.

I used about half of the cinnamon-sugar mix to coat the pan and half as my filling. Feel free to make more of the mix and use more for coating or filling as you like. Also feel free to up the sugar amount for the coating if you want that crusted sugar effect more than a cinnamon look. Coconut oil works in this recipe, but the cake is not as moist and flavorful as it is when light olive oil is used. Pans can be greased with whichever oil you use. Two loaf pans are what the original recipe calls for and what I used. Don't worry too much over the size of the pans, although you may have to adjust cooking times. The original recipe called for 6¾" x 3½" x 2" loaf pans. I (and one gfe reader) used 8½" x 4½" x 2⅝" pans. There is no coconut flavor in this recipe from the coconut milk. However, if coconut oil is used, there is a slight coconut tone (unless you use expeller pressed coconut oil, which really has almost no coconut taste). Last, I love the crunchy edges of this pound cake recipe. Just like with my pound cake, the end pieces are my absolute favorite. One gfe reader lives at a higher altitude---6600 ft---she adjusts the oven temperature on my Perfect Pound Cake (the basis of this recipe) to 375 degrees, so I imagine that adjustment would work for this recipe as well.

Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake  from Gluten Free Easily

Bake a few loaves of this Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake, cool, wrap, and tie with a ribbon and you’ll have some very lovely holiday gifts that are sure to be appreciated. Add some favorite coffee or tea for an extra special gift! Or package with a small jar of one of the butter recipes shown below.

Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake (Gluten Free, Dairy Free) GFE

Here are some other edible holiday gifts that you can still make … right up to Christmas morning!

Other quick breads/cakes like Classic Pumpkin Bread and Chocolate Zucchini Bread (there’s no zucchini available locally, but I have some grated zucchini  in the freezer) or the aforementioned Perfect Pound Cake.

Homemade Vanilla Extract ~ Okay, I know this suggestion will surprise you! Made of only vodka and vanilla beans, it’s true that if you give this recipe without having several weeks for the vodka to extract the vanilla, it won’t be vanilla extract yet. But your gift recipients are likely to appreciate this gift just as much as they would have if it were ready to use on Day One. It’s a lot of fun to see the extraction process take place with the vanilla darkening each day. Kids can be given the shaking the jar assignment. Maybe you’ll even inspire your recipients to make their own vanilla extract next year!

gluten-free vanilla extract, homemade vanilla extract, homemade gluten-free vanilla extract. homemade food gifts, gluten free easily

Newly Made Vanilla Extract (Before Extraction)

Honey Butter ~ Exactly what it sounds like. Easy to make. If you are a recycler—like I am—you probably have some small jars saved that will be just right for storing this gift.

Maple Butter or Agave Butter ~ Use the same technique as you did with honey butter, just sub out maple syrup or agave nectar for the honey. Adjust amounts to preferred sweetness.

Pumpkin Butter ~ This recipe actually cooks while you are sleeping. Place the ingredients in your slow cooker as your turn in on Christmas Eve. Then transfer your beautiful and delicious pumpkin butter to small jars first thing on Christmas morning. Some lucky ducks may even get your pumpkin butter while it’s still warm … now that’s a present!

gluten-free pumpkin butter, dairy-free pumpkin butter, refined sugar-free pumpkin butter, homemade pumpkin butter, slow cooker pumpkin butter, homemade gifts. homemade holiday gifts

Turtle Treats ~ Do you have someone on your gift list who loves Pecan Turtles? Pick up some of the small gluten-free pretzel twists, Rolos, and pecan halves. In about a total of 5 minutes (the baking of these treats takes 2 minutes tops!), you have an impressive little gift of “homemade” chocolates. Have you been saving those little jewelry boxes? Now is the time to pull them out, wipe the inside, and line with some pretty tissue paper before filling with a few of your beautiful turtles. You can get quite a few impressive gifts from this one recipe!

gluten-free turtles, Rolo turtles, homemade food gifts

Snack Mixes—Classic Spicy Snack Mix and/or Sweet and Spicy Snack Mix ~ Do you already have a Christmas tin left over from one of your early holiday gifts? You can package both mixes in the same tin if you make a divider. Measure the height and interior width of the tin, and cut two pieces of cardboard to match. Make notches in the center of each strip of cardboard, so the pieces will fit together to form an X. Or perhaps you have an excess of other containers that would work for your “assortment” of snack mix. Glass jars taped together with clear packing tape and then wrapped with wide ribbon tied into a bow?

homemade snack mixes, gluten-free snack mixes, gluten-free Chex mixes, homemade gifts, homemade holiday gifts, homemade food gifts

Classic Spicy Snack Mix or Sweet and Spicy Snack Mix

The Gift of the Food That  You Already Know They LOVE ~ Do you have a friend or relative who absolutely loves one particular recipe of yours? Surprise them by making it just for them for their holiday gift. I’ve shared the following story previously. Christmas lists are required on Mr. GFE’s side of the family. The lists get placed on my mother-in-law’s refrigerator right after Thanksgiving. It delighted me to see “Shirley’s Coconut Pie” on my nephew’s Christmas list a few years ago. I gladly complied with that wish. He beamed when he opened his very own Coconut Pie, and somehow he made it last a full week. For a 16-year old boy, that’s a feat! Too cute. So easy to answer such a Christmas wish!

We have three more days of “regular” posts for our Home for the Holidays … Gluten-Free Style event. That’s the one where we are giving away a Vitamix and tons of other great prizes. Don’t miss a post!

This post is linked to Gluten-Free Wednesdays.

Not just gf, but gfe!

Full Disclosure/Disclaimer: This post may contain one or more affiliate links. If you purchase through them, your cost will always be the same, but I will receive a small commission. Thanks for the support! Read the full disclaimer here.


39 Responses to “Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake & 10+ Other “Last-Minute” Gifts”

  1. Ina Gawne on December 21st, 2011 10:11 am

    Yummmm – Shirley, I love all of these recipes! I have not had a spicy snack mix in 100 years…I so want to make that! Thanks for sharing! :)

    • Shirley on December 21st, 2011 4:36 pm

      Hey Ina–There’s something very appealing about spicy and crunchy snack mix, and goodness knows that you’re “due” after a 100 years. ;-)

      Enjoy, dear!

  2. Lexie @ Lexie's Kitchen on December 21st, 2011 11:36 am

    I made your snack mix last year. It’s a must a again :) And look at this cinnamon bread. You’re killin’ me! xoLexie

    • Shirley on December 21st, 2011 4:38 pm

      Hey Lexie–LOL … I’m killing you? You, the one who just posted a recipe for Maple Macaroons? I think we’re doing it to each other. ;-)

      Enjoy all!

  3. Kalinda on December 21st, 2011 12:39 pm

    The cinnamon swirl coffee cake sounds great. I haven’t made turtle treats in a long time, we made them a bunch in college. They really are pretty darn easy.

    • Shirley on December 21st, 2011 4:39 pm

      Thanks, Kalinda! Those turtle treats are unbelievably easy, and good. Rolos aren’t on my regular menu, but they work so well in this recipe. :-) Some friends made these with just caramels though and said that worked fine. I’d have to try that version to be sure. ;-)


  4. cheryl on December 21st, 2011 2:44 pm

    a pie, lasting a full week? how does this work? love the suggestions!

    • Shirley on December 21st, 2011 4:40 pm

      Cheryl–Hehe! I hear you, sister. I was amazed myself, especially since he had requested it all for his lonesome. Maybe he overdid it the first day and then paced himself. ;-)

      Thanks, dear!

  5. Alta on December 21st, 2011 3:39 pm

    Great gift ideas, and this cake sounds great!

    • Shirley on December 21st, 2011 4:41 pm

      Thanks, Alta!I know you’d love this cake because it’s based on the pound cake you love. :-)


  6. Kassia on December 21st, 2011 4:28 pm

    I just made this Coffee cake, it’s delicious! I adapted a couple of things- I used half coconut and half olive oil, 3/4c brown sugar + 12 drops vanilla stevia. Also, I wanted mine to be more of a quickbread than a cake, so I put all of the batter in a 9×4 loaf pan with the cinnamon sugar layer in the middle. It came out really, really good! Thanks for another great recipe!

    • Shirley on December 21st, 2011 4:43 pm

      Hi Kassia–Wow! I love hearing this news. :-) Your adaptation will be so appealing to many. I’m dying to try it myself now, just to cut back on the sugar. I cut and pasted your comment and shared it on my gfe Facebook page, just to inspire folks to make this cake and to also not be afraid to experiment. ;-)

      Thanks so much!

  7. Susan on December 21st, 2011 4:33 pm

    Your cinnamon swirl coffee cake looks delicious and I’m so happy that it makes two loaves!

  8. Linda C on December 21st, 2011 5:05 pm

    Can’t wait to try this recipe Shirley! I love cinnamon coffee cakes and its been a long time since I’ve had one. Thanks for all the other recipes/ideas too. Merry Christmas!

    • Shirley on December 23rd, 2011 10:28 am

      Hi Linda–It’s always wonderful to see that you have commented here at gfe … it’s like getting a hug from a good friend! Thank you for that! :-) I think you’ll enjoy this recipe. My co-workers raved over it again yesterday when I mentioned I’d posted the recipe. ;-)

      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  9. InTolerant Chef on December 21st, 2011 6:10 pm

    Sounds delicious, definitely on my to do list!

    • Shirley on December 23rd, 2011 10:29 am

      Hi InTolerant Chef–Yep, it is (stops to pat self on back … LOL) … enjoy! :-)


  10. Kay Guest on December 21st, 2011 6:23 pm

    Hey Shirley!
    You KNOW I LOVE your perfect poundcake!!
    So, don’t know why I wouldn’t LOVE this cinnamony bundle of goodness either!!!
    LOVE EVERYTHING that you have on here.
    I am hungry just reading it all.
    Hope you have a WONDERFUL Christmas! You are the BEST!

    • Shirley on December 23rd, 2011 10:30 am

      Thank you, Kay! I think you the BEST, too! But of course, you’d have to be … being head gfe cheerleader and “all that.” ;-)

      Love and hugs,

    • Shirley on December 23rd, 2011 10:31 am

      Oh, and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, too, dear! :-)


  11. Maggie on December 21st, 2011 7:57 pm

    Oh how I wish I was a little closer to you, I’d love to be on the receiving end of your gifts. First the vanilla extract. The following year I’d take some honey butter, and since we’re close I could try a couple of slices of this DELISH coffee cake! Love the swirl version Shirley. xo

    • Shirley on December 23rd, 2011 10:32 am

      Maggie–I think I’d benefit from that proximity, too! ;-) But LOL on what you’d like me to give you for Christmas each year. I’d happily do it, too! :-)


  12. LisaB on December 21st, 2011 9:02 pm

    Shirley- Bless You! This coffee cake comes just in time. I’d been needing to come up with a plan for what treat I was going to make for Christmas morning, and struggling to come up with an easy answer. I’ve been experimenting with new cookie recipes. I’m still at high altitude, and new cookie recipes plus high altitude have dampened my sense of adventure. This, I can do. This will work out fine. It’s Shirley to the rescue, once again!
    P.S. The GF Girls in NM sampled some of your vanilla extract recipe when we met at Heidi’s house a couple months ago. It’s amazing! If anybody has any doubt– just make it.

    • Shirley on December 23rd, 2011 10:41 am

      Hey Lisa–Woohoo for providing a solution to your Christmas breakfast needs just in time! I’m so sympathetic to high altitude challenges. I just can’t imagine that challenge.

      Now regarding Heidi’s vanilla that she is saying is my recipe. Remember that Heidi is delightfully “over the top” as I like to say, so whereas I put in 2-4 vanilla beans, she uses 10 to 20. Seriously. So don’t make the recipe from my site and expect it to be like Heidi’s! LOL I think the vanilla extract works just fine with a smaller number of vanilla beans (and I even add vodka and another bean or two when the first batch of vanilla extract runs out and happily keep on going), but I’m sure it’s beyond fabulous with the number of vanilla beans that Heidi uses. Sure would like to be at one of Heidi’s NM parties with you gals one day!!

      BTW, I just re-read your website’s About page and was newly inspired by you! :-)


      • LisaB on December 27th, 2011 2:56 pm

        Aww…. thanks for the kind words about the website. It’s time for it go bloggy in 2012, so wish me luck.

        Just as I suspected, your cinnamon bread turned out GREAT at high altitude. I tried it with my treasured box of King Arthur Flour GF flour mix (can’t buy it here, I smuggled it in my luggage from my last trip East). The dough was very thick and sticky, but that just gave the loaves “character.” I only had to alter the cooking temperature – that’s the first and easiest altitude mod – and it turned out great! The family didn’t even suspect it was GF & DF.

        • Shirley on December 31st, 2011 11:33 am

          Lisa–You will do great with a blog! :-)

          I’m so happy that your cinnamon bread turned out great, even with your high altitude. With gfe recipes, nobody should EVER suspect they are “different.” My batter was thick and sticky, too, and I also loved the character it gave my loaves. ;-) I have no experience with high altitude baking so I appreciate the feedback of you folks who deal with that. I know our other high-altitude readers do, too, Lisa. Did you increase the temperature to 375F as the other reader had advised for the pound cake (the basis of this recipe)? If you have time, I’d love it if you’d leave a quick comment on the post itself, too: Just a cut and paste of this last paragraph would be lovely, so other readers of that post will know the recipe works and works at a different temp. If you don’t have time, I understand though.


  13. Stephanie on December 21st, 2011 10:24 pm

    Oh Shirley, I remember Amish Friendship Bread and can’t wait to make this! I’ve made your GF Flour mix and I love it because it’s economical and good, but lately am trying to stay away from corn. Do you think I could replace the corn starch with sweet rice flour or a mixture of sweet rice and tapioca starch (maybe 50/50)? I can’t eat potato starch either and Arrowroot is a little pricey.

    • Shirley on December 23rd, 2011 10:25 am

      Hey Stephanie–I think that’s a great idea on trying a mix of sweet rice flour and tapioca starch/flour to replace the cornstarch. I’d just make a small batch of your new gf all-purpose flour mix to begin with to see if you like the results. Fingers crossed that it will work for you and that you’ll love this recipe! Let us know about both your new mix and what you think of this coffee cake! ;-)


      • Stephanie on December 24th, 2011 11:20 pm

        Okay Shirley…for the flour mix, I used 3 parts Asian Rice Flour, 1 part Asian Sweet Rice Flour and 1 part Tapioca Starch. The loaves have been out of the oven about 20 minutes and I’ve just tasted a slice. They are very good! My loaves didn’t rise as much as yours and the batter had a very sticky consistency before baking…no doubt that it’s my flour combo, but the bread tastes wonderful, so I’m very happy! I’ve also made your crustless coconut pie for our Christmas lunch tomorrow. Thanks for such great recipes and Merry Christmas!

        • Shirley on December 24th, 2011 11:32 pm

          Stephanie–That’s great news! I’m so glad to hear that this mix worked for you. FYI–even with the mix I use, this batter has a pretty sticky consistency. Sort of looks like a gelatinous mass as you’re placing it in the pan. Not sure if yours looks the same or is even stickier, but you might try backing down a bit on the sweet rice flour and using more tapioca starch next time. But I’m so happy that you’re pleased with the results! Woohoo on the crustless coconut pie, too! Just made that myself today … a dairy-free version that a reader created and shared with me. :-) It was a winner! My gf/df son was so thrilled to be able to have two pies that he could eat (I also made my Chocolate Silk Pie using coconut oil vs butter).

          Thanks for the sweet words and Christmas wishes, dear! Merry Christmas to you, too!

  14. Joy on December 22nd, 2011 12:07 am

    Your cinnamon swirl coffee cake looks and sounds delicious! We will have to try it soon…

    • Shirley on December 23rd, 2011 10:42 am

      Thank you, Joy! Hope you love it as much as we do! :-)


  15. Natalie on December 22nd, 2011 1:29 am

    Oh goodness, this coffee cake looks just amazing. I love coffee cake! Thanks for the recipe!

    • Shirley on December 23rd, 2011 10:42 am

      Hey Natalie–Great to see you again! :-) Thanks so much. Coffee cake is comfort food, isn’t it? Let us know what you think if you make it! ;-)


  16. The Lucky Wife @ The Saturday Evening Pot on May 19th, 2012 9:07 pm

    We made your coffee cake CHRISTMAS morning and just shared it with a link to you on our blog… it was DELICIOUS and we were talking about how we need to make it AGAIN SOON! THANK YOU!

  17. wendy on January 5th, 2013 10:00 pm

    hi. saw this recipe and am very interested in trying in as my mother was just diagnosed with celiac disease late last yr.

    we already found a GF flour mix that works best for her but my question is about the xanthan gum.

    Can it be omitted? and if so how will it affect the outcome of the recipe?

    thank you

    • Shirley on January 5th, 2013 11:01 pm

      Hi wendy–Welcome to gfe! :-) Is there any chance that the flour mix you bought already includes xanthan gum? Otherwise, I don’t know if this recipe will work or not as I haven’t made it without xanthan gum. If you give it a try, please let us know your results.


      • wendy on January 5th, 2013 11:20 pm

        i dont believe so. it is a 3-3-2 mix of brown rice flour, cornstarch, and sweet sorghurm flour.

        i think i’ll try it without the xanthan gum and see how it works out. i’ll post about it when i do.

        thanks again :)

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