Rich with butter and sour cream, and topped with sweet cinnamon streusel, this classic coffee cake recipe is perfect with a steaming cup of coffee or tea. 

Image of a slice of cinnamon coffee cake with a streusel on top and a cinnamon filling.

How do you take your coffee? I love my coffee black and strong! But a plain cup of coffee just cries out for a sweet treat to accompany it.

What could be more perfect than coffee cake? Especially homemade streusel coffee cake. Crunchy, crumbly, cinnamon sweet streusel just rings all the happy bells for me.

You’re going to love this classic coffee cake recipe. I have a feeling you’ll be coming back to it again and again. Everyone loves it!

Just the other night, I made this coffee cake for my book group and they raved about it.  You know what? We discovered that coffee cake is not only perfect with a cup of coffee or tea, but it’s also delicious with a glass of wine, too.

Enjoy this homemade streusel coffee cake for a special brunch, afternoon coffee time with the neighbors, or as the sweet ending to a home cooked dinner. 

Image of a 9x9 pan of cinnamon streusel coffee cake, waiting to be sliced and enjoyed!

About this coffee cake recipe:

While many coffee cake recipes start with a boxed mix, this coffee cake recipe is made completely from scratch. You’ll probably have everything you need in your pantry. While the ingredient list may look kind of long initially, you’ll notice the repetition of butter, flour, sugar, and cinnamon in each of the layers.

Okay, so let’s talk about the three layers:

  • moist buttery cake
  • sweet cinnamon filling
  • crunchy streusel topping

To make the cake, butter, sugar, and eggs are beaten together until the mixture is nice and fluffy. The dry ingredients (flour, etc.) are added alternately with sour cream. The cake batter will be thick. 

Hopefully you weren’t scared off when you heard this cake has a filling. No fears, you won’t have to slice this cake in half and try to spread jam or pudding in between layers. A simple mixture of  sugar and cinnamon with a teaspoon of cocoa (for a rich brown color) is sprinkled onto the batter and baked right in the cake. Spread half the batter into a pan, sprinkle on the filling mixture, and spread the other half of the batter on top. 

Next comes the streusel.

What is streusel? A simple topping made of melted butter, flour, sugar, and cinnamon that is baked right on the cake, creating a crumbly, crunchy, totally delicious layer.  

The streusel is the “frosting” so this cake is ready to serve immediately – no need to frost it. That’s one of the reasons this coffee cake recipe is perfect for breakfast or brunch. 

Image of a piece of coffee cake, captured from above, topped with lots of crunchy cinnamon streusel.

What makes a coffee cake?

Really, any kind of sweet cake that you enjoy with a cup of coffee can be called a coffee cake. Usually a coffee cake has a streusel, or crumb topping, consisting of flour, sugar, butter, cinnamon and sometimes nuts or oats. The streusel topping takes the place of frosting, so that the cake is ready to eat when it comes out of the oven. Often a coffee cake will also contain fruit, like this cranberry orange coffee cake or peach spice coffee cake.

Does a coffee cake have coffee in it? Not usually, although some thrifty cooks have used leftover coffee to make their cake. More often, sour cream is used, giving the cake a rich taste and light texture. 

Image of a slice of coffee cake with streusel topping and cinnamon filling.

How to make this streusel coffee cake your own:

  • Like nuts? Add a generous half cup of chopped walnuts or pecans to the streusel mixture before baking. 
  • Skip the filling if you want. This cake is delicious even without the cinnamon filling.
  • Don’t have sour cream? Substitute Greek yogurt or buttermilk for the sour cream. 
  • Want a fancier coffee cake? Make a simple powdered sugar glaze to drizzle over the coffee cake after baking. 
  • Serve the coffee cake as a dessert. Top with whipped cream or ice cream. 

Image of unsliced coffee cake in a blue baking dish.

Storage Tips

Streusel coffee cake will keep 1-2 days at room temperature, or wrap very well, and freeze for up to 3 days. Allow to thaw about 90 minutes before using.

Other cake recipes:

Looking for a different kind of cake? Try:

 

Coffee Cake Recipe with Streusel

Coffee Cake Recipe with Streusel

Yield: 9 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Rich with butter and sour cream, and topped with sweet cinnamon streusel, this classic coffee cake recipe is perfect with a steaming cup of coffee or tea. 

Ingredients

For the streusel:

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed down
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the cake:

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick) , softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs , at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream, at room temperature

For the filling:

  • ½ cup brown sugar, light or dark, packed down
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder (optional, added for deeper color not flavor)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray a 9x9 inch square pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. To make the streusel: In a small bowl, mix flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt until well combined. Add the melted butter and mix well until crumbs form. Set aside.
  3. To make the cake: In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a mixer bowl, beat the softened butter on medium speed for one minute until creamy. Add sugar and beat 30 seconds. Add eggs, and beat 3 minutes or until batter is light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Mix in vanilla extract. With mixer on low speed, mix in the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the sour cream in 2 additions (starting and ending with the flour). Do not overmix. Batter should be thick and fluffy.
  5. Spoon half of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer. Sprinkle the filling mixture evenly over the batter. Spoon the remaining batter on top and smooth it into an even layer. Sprinkle the streusel mixture evenly on top of the cake, gently patting down. 
  6. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. There may be crumbs but there shouldn’t be batter on toothpick. Place the cake in the pan on a wire rack to cool completely. 
  7. Serve warm, or at room temperature. If desired, serve with whipped cream or ice cream. 

Notes

  • Cake will keep 1-2 days at room temperature, or wrap very well, and freeze for up to 3 days. Allow to thaw about 90 minutes before using.
  • If desired, add a heaping half cup of chopped nuts such as walnuts or pecans to the struesel mixture before baking.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 9 Serving Size: 1 square
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 474Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 207mgCarbohydrates: 66gFiber: 1gSugar: 44gProtein: 5g
RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.
Verdict: I love this coffee cake. It’s not overly rich, but it’s plenty sweet! 
Husband’s take: Ben and the rest of the family all love this cake! 
Changes I would make: None are necessary!
Difficulty: Moderate. It’s not hard, but naturally, baking from scratch is slightly more time consuming. It’s worth it though!