Classic Coffee Cake

With Cinnamon Streusel Topping

a classic coffee cake with cinnamon swirl and streusel topping

The Spruce / Diana Rattray

Prep: 35 mins
Cook: 55 mins
Total: 90 mins
Servings: 12 to 20 servings
Yield: 12 to 20 squares
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
404 Calories
17g Fat
59g Carbs
5g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 20
Amount per serving
Calories 404
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 22%
Saturated Fat 10g 52%
Cholesterol 81mg 27%
Sodium 308mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 59g 21%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 36g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 70mg 5%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 93mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A classic coffee cake is a fabulous cake to make for a holiday morning, meeting, or social gathering. This coffee cake is easy to prepare and bake, and it's an excellent alternative to donuts or quick breads. Plus, homemade is so much better than store-bought. The ribbon-like swirl of cinnamon gives the cake a unique look, and the crunchy streusel top adds delicious texture.

A coffee cake doesn't contain coffee—it's a moist and tender cake usually served along with coffee or tea or as a breakfast cake or brunch dessert. The American coffee cake may have originated with the German crumb cake that people served with coffee at informal gatherings or kaffeeklatsches.

Don't be put off by the list of ingredients—the cake is really very easy to put together and bake following the concise step-by-step directions, and you can prepare it a day in advance. Cover the prepared, unbaked cake and refrigerate it overnight. The next morning, remove the covering and bake the cake as directed. Since the cake will be cold, allow an extra 5 to 10 minutes of baking time.

Ingredients

For the Cinnamon Layer

  • 3/4 cup (148 grams) packed brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup (33 grams) flour

  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

For the Streusel Topping

  • 1 cup (198 grams) packed brown sugar

  • 1 cup (120 grams) flour

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, softened

For the Coffee Cake

  • 3 1/4 cups (396 grams) flour

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened

  • 2 cups (402 grams) granulated sugar

  • 4 large eggs, room temperature

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 1 cup sour cream, room temperature

  • 1/3 cup milk, room temperature

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, the instructions are broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

For the Cinnamon Layer

  1. Gather the ingredients for the cinnamon layer.

  2. Combine 3/4 cup of brown sugar with 1/4 cup of flour and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, mix thoroughly and set aside.

For the Streusel Topping

  1. Gather the ingredients for the streusel topping.

  2. In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 cup of flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of softened butter. Mix with a fork or your fingers to create a crumb mixture. Set aside.

Prepare and Bake the Cake

  1. Gather the cake ingredients. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 F.

  2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 F. Spray a 9-by-13-by2 1/2-inch baking pan or 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray.

  3. Combine the 3 1/4 cups of flour with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

  4. In a mixing bowl with an electric mixer, combine 1 cup butter and 2 cups of granulated sugar; beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy.

  5. Add the eggs and vanilla, and continue to mix for 1 minute until blended.

  6. Add about one-third of the flour mixture and half of the sour cream and milk, and beat just until blended with the mixer on low. Add another one-third of the flour mixture and the remaining milk and sour cream, and continue to beat just until blended; blend in the remaining flour mixture. Do not overbeat.

  7. Spread half of the batter in the prepared baking pan and top it evenly with the cinnamon sugar layer mixture.

  8. Spoon the remaining batter evenly over the cinnamon sugar layer; gently spread to cover and then top with the streusel crumb mixture.

  9. Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

  10. Remove to a rack to cool before cutting into squares.

Recipe Variation

  • Add about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts to the streusel topping mixture.
  • Gussy your coffee cake up with a simple glaze. Combine 1/2 cup of confectioners' sugar with a few drops of vanilla and about 2 to 3 teaspoons of milk, or enough to drizzle. Drizzle the glaze over the cake just before serving.

How to Store and Freeze

  • The cake will last for 2 to 3 days, tightly covered at room temperature.
  • To freeze the cake, place portions on a baking sheet and place the pan in the freezer. When the cake squares are frozen solid, transfer them to airtight containers or zip-close bags. Defrost in the fridge or on the counter for a few hours.

What is the difference between cake and coffee cake?

A typical cake is frosted or glazed, while a coffee cake is usually topped with a crumb mixture or streusel. The difference between a crumb cake and a coffee cake is the amount of streusel topping. A crumb cake usually has a thicker layer of streusel topping.

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