Classic Coffee Cake

Breakfast and BrunchBakingCoffee Cake

Love Starbucks Coffee Cake? This version is even better. Tender, buttery cake topped with crunchy crumbles and a cinnamon-sugar ribbon running through the middle. Pour yourself a cup of coffee, and dig in!

Photography Credit: Cindy Rahe

Coffee cake is one of those magical cakes that gets away with being acceptable to eat any time of the day.

Curiously, coffee cake contains zero coffee itself. I think (and I am totally speculating here) that it’s meant to be served with coffee, sort of in the tradition of tea. My sleuthing on the internet points to origins in German yeasted cakes, but it’s not entirely clear.

A common theme of coffee cakes is the incorporation of streusel, and for many of us (at least in the US), it means a rich yellow cake spiced with cinnamon and topped with as much crumble as the cake can handle!

Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Better-Than-Starbucks Coffee Cake

My inspiration for this classic crumb coffee cake is the picture-perfect slices you find behind the glass at Starbucks—but bigger, better, and with more crumb!

The cake batter includes sour cream, which not only adds richness but also helps maintain a tender crumb. There’s a cinnamon stripe through the center of the cake and a blanket of crumble over the top.

To ensure that distinctive stripe, we layer about half of the batter into the bottom of the pan, sprinkle the cinnamon layer over the top, then the remaining batter, and finally, a thick cover of crumble topping.

Some of the crumble floats on top of the batter in spots and buckles in others, in a way that sort of resembles a sugarscape of cinnamon-scented hills and valleys that are nearly impossible to resist peeling off and eating straight from the pan—or maybe that’s just me!

Cinnamon Coffee Cake - coffee cake in baking pan

HOW TO STORE AND FREEZE COFFEE CAKE

This is one of those cakes that just gets better after a day or two on the counter. The texture improves and moisture remains. It also freezes well!

To freeze the cake, let it cool completely, then wrap it in a layer of plastic followed by foil. The double layer helps to prevent it from drying out in the freezer. To defrost the cake, set it on the counter until it reaches room temperature—if you have that kind of patience! The cake, even half-frozen, is still delicious.

HOW TO ADAPT THIS CAKE

This recipe is easily adaptable to include other spices.

  • Add cardamom and a little zest for an interesting twist.
  • Swap the cinnamon and sugar for pumpkin pie spice.
  • Add 1/3 cup of finely chopped walnuts or pecans to the topping or batter.

This cake is great served as it is. The crumble and the rich cake batter are perfectly satisfying without embellishments, but a dollop of barely sweetened whipped cream is always welcome!

MORE CAKES TO SERVE WITH COFFEE!

Classic Coffee Cake Recipe

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  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 12-14

Ingredients

For the streusel topping:

  • 1 cup (150g) brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup (96g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, very soft

For the cinnamon layer:

  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the cake batter:

  • 3 cups (384g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups (450g) sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (227g) unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1 cup (227g) sour cream
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Method

1 Heat the oven and prepare the pan: Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter or spray a 9x13 inch pan.

2 Make the streusel layer: In a small bowl combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Use a fork to mash the butter into the mixture until completely combined and crumbly.

Best Coffee Cake Recipe - strusel topping mixed togetherSour Cream Coffee Cake -- strusel topping mixed together

3 Make the cinnamon layer: In another small bowl, combine sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Set both to the side.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake - cinnamon and sugar in a bowlCrumb Cake Recipe - strusel topping in a bowl

4 Begin making the batter: In the bowl of your mixer, add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt. Using the paddle attachment for your stand mixer, stir on low to combine.

Add the softened butter and beat on medium-low speed for 2-3 minutes, or until all of the butter is mixed in and the mixture resembles moist sand.

Crumb Coffee Cake Recipe - crumbly butter and flour mixture 5 Combine wet ingredients and finish the batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, and vanilla until combined. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients. Beat the batter on medium speed until you get a smooth batter. A few small lumps are totally fine.

Crumb Coffee Cake Recipe - cake batter in mixing bowl

6 Prepare the cake: Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar layer over the top of the batter in an even layer. Spread the remaining batter over the top (this does require some patience since the batter likes to lift off the cinnamon-sugar layer). Top the final layer of batter with the crumble mixture.

Easy Coffee Cake Recipe - cake batter with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled over the top Easy Coffee Cake Recipe - cake batter in pan Cinnamon Coffee Cake -cake batter partially covered in crumb topping

7 Bake the cake: Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 1 hour (or until the cake comes to room temperature) before serving.

Cinnamon Coffee Cake - coffee cake in baking pan

8 Store the cake: You can make this cake a day or two in advance. Remove the cake from the pan and cover with plastic wrap. Keep it on the counter.  To freeze the cake, wrap it in plastic, followed by foil.

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Cindy Rahe

Cindy Rahe is the recipe maker and picture taker behind Hungry Girl por Vida. She loves to bake from scratch and make things that taste as good as they look. Cindy was born near Seoul but grew up in California and Nevada. She believes strongly in homemade birthday cakes, creamy coffee, and making room for dessert.

More from Cindy

2 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Darren

    Delicious! This recipe makes one very LARGE coffeecake that overwhelmed my 13×9 pan. Will likely cut the recipe in half next time to make one that won’t feed a small nation.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Zanele

    This reminds me of home….

Crumb Coffee Cake Recipe - coffee cake on blue plateClassic Coffee Cake