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.
Why you’ll love it: There’s streusel in the cake and on top of the cake!
How long it takes: 20 minutes to prep, 55 minutes in the oven
Equipment you’ll need: mixing bowls, measuring utensils, electric mixer, cake pan, oven
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.
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.
Ahem! You may notice in the photos that my streusel layer is kind of close to the bottom. Apparently I divided the batter unevenly. That’s just how it goes sometimes and it doesn’t affect the quality of the coffee cake one bit. Keeps us humble, right?
Next comes the streusel. 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.
What is Streusel?
Streusel is 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.
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.
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.
Make It 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.
Storage and Freezing Tips
Streusel coffee cake will keep 1-2 days at room temperature. To freeze, wrap very well, and freeze for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw about 90 minutes before using.
More cake recipes
Looking for a different kind of cake? I have lots more recipes for you to try:
- Double Chocolate Pecan Cake
- Texas Sheet Cake
- Classic Pound Cake Recipe (loaf or bundt!)
- Apple Spice Cake with Bourbon Glaze (the glaze is optional but so delicious!)
- Black Forest Dump Cake
- Clementine Vanilla Bean Yogurt Cake
- Flourless Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake
- Pumpkin Poke Cake (with real pumpkin!)
- Rhubarb Upside Down Cake (make it in your Instant Pot)
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)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×9 inch square pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
- 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.
- To make the cake: In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Serve warm, or at room temperature. If desired, serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
- Cake will keep 1-2 days at room temperature. To freeze, wrap very well, and freeze for up to 3 months. 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 streusel mixture before baking.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.