Coffee Cake Pancakes, Inspired by The Hazel Wood: A Novel by Melissa Albert

Alice is a teenager undergoing inner tumult beyond that of the average 17-year-old. Her identity crisis is fueled by the fact that she doesn’t know anything about her family besides her mother, Ella, and her estranged and mysterious grandmother, the famous author of the bestselling book of dark fairytales, Tales from the Hinterland. Ella and Alice are constantly moving from city to city in an attempt to outrun the “bad luck” that seems to follow them wherever they go. Alice’s life takes a whimsical turn when Ella goes missing, and Alice sets out on a quest to rescue her mother and find her estranged grandmother. As the lines between story time and reality become increasingly blurred, Alice discovers that she is closer to the world of her grandmother’s folklore than she could have ever imagined. The Hazel Wood is a captivating tale that celebrates the fairytale tradition with a contemporary edge and unique characters. It is an extremely fun read that will enchant the reader with each turn of the page.

I’ve chosen to pair The Hazel Wood with coffee cake pancakes. The characters in the novel are often drinking coffee (or using it to extinguish trash can fires), and Alice seems to have developed an appreciation for a good cup of Joe at her job at the Salty Dog café. Alice also seems to have a real affinity for pancakes. They’re her treat of choice when she’s taken by the red-haired man (drowning in blueberry syrup). She scarfs them down as they’re prepared by her friend’s housekeeper (dusted with powdered sugar and served with tart red jam), and she orders them at the diner on Seventy-Ninth Street where she hears her grandmother’s story “Alice-Three-Times” for the first time (again, drowning in blueberry syrup). These confections also seem to embody the whimsical-yet-edgy charm of the novel. I hope you enjoy making them!

Coffee Cake Pancakes

Yield: 8 medium sized pancakes

Prep Time: 10 mins.

Cook Time: 15 mins.


Streusel Topping (This will yield about twice the amount needed.)

  • 1 & 1/4 cups of all purpose flour

  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 1/4 tsp. salt

  • 1/2 cup of butter, room temperature

  • 3/4 cup of chopped pecans, oats, or other nuts


  • 1 & 3/4 cups all purpose flour

  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda

  • 1/4 tsp. salt

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1 & 1/2 cups buttermilk

  • 2 large egs

  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 3/4 cup milk

  • 3 Tbsp. instant coffee (For a stronger coffee flavor, increase to taste.)

  • 1 Tbsp. melted butter


  1. To make the streusel topping, stir the dry ingredients together, and then add the butter. Combine until a crumbly, consistent texture is achieved. Set aside.

  2. For the pancakes, combine the dry ingredients, except for the instant coffee, in a bowl.

  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, buttermilk, vanilla extract, melted butter, 2 large eggs, and instant coffee.

  4. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.

  5. Scoop batter onto a skillet or griddle on medium heat, and flip when the bubbles burst. Cook until golden.

  6. Top with the streusel and maple syrup.

Get lost in your own fairytale world with this literary and culinary pairing. Be sure to let me know what you think!

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