A deliriously soft and super simple Coffee Cake with a ripple of cinnamon in the middle and a heavy streusel crumb topping. This cinnamon breakfast cake recipe makes enough to feed a crowd (if you’re willing to share). Top everything off with my simple vanilla glaze and dig in! Recipe includes a how-to video!
The Only Coffee Cake Recipe Worth Making Again
Bold claim up there 👆🏻 I know. But I stand by it 100%. Ever since developing this moist coffee cake recipe almost three years ago, I’ve been incredibly disappointed anytime I’ve tried any other.
Maybe it’s that buttery soft, sweet but not too-sweet crumb, or the ribbon of cinnamon tucked away in the center. Maybe it’s that slightly crisp, heavy blanket of crumbly streusel on the top, or the simple drizzle of vanilla glaze. Maybe it’s just because it has the word “cake” right in its name and I’m a sucker for cake any time of the day.
Despite some serious competition from my favorite buttermilk pancakes and French toast, this cinnamon coffee cake is my favorite breakfast and I love having a special occasion to make and enjoy it. Or no special occasion, really. Nothing wrong with celebrating Monday, right?
What You Need:
I’m not going to go over every ingredient on this list but there are a few that are worth a mention and that are key to making this truly the best coffee cake recipe.
- Cream cheese. This is my secret weapon. I substitute some of the butter for cream cheese and I believe this is what makes my coffee cake better than literally any other out there. The crumb on this cake is so soft, so moist, so melt-in-your-mouth and the flavor is divine. It also doesn’t make the cake actually taste like cream cheese, in case you’re worried about that!
- Sugar. This probably isn’t an unexpected ingredient, but here we are using a blend of granulated and light brown sugar. I love using brown sugar in many of my classic recipes where just granulated is usually used (like my chocolate cake!), it adds a new depth of flavor and adds moisture to the final product.
- Corn starch. Another secret ingredient that I use in many of my recipes (remember my cinnamon rolls!?), it encourages a soft, tender, melt-in-your-mouth crumb.
- Buttermilk. While regular whole milk would work here, the buttermilk adds flavor and, again, moisture to the end-result (feel free to use my buttermilk substitute if needed).
Then there’s that cinnamon/sugar ripple in the center and that buttery mountain of crumbly streusel on top…
The batter will be thicker than many cakes you’ve probably made in the past, and that’s exactly as it should be. Because of this, though, when you layer your cinnamon sugar swirl in the center, the top layer will be a bit tricky to spread so be sure to dollop it over the surface and then use a knife to nudge it evenly over the cinnamon and sugar.
If you do end up disturbing the cinnamon/sugar layer, don’t stress! It will just make for a more…. interesting swirled top layer! Nothing wrong with getting a little creative.
No Coffee Cake is Complete Without Streusel
The crumb topping on this cinnamon coffee cake is my absolute favorite (I also use it on my coffee cake muffins). It’s buttery and sweet and its crisp texture perfectly complements the soft cake.
My streusel recipe is also incredibly simple to make. Rather than needing a pastry cutter, you’ll melt your butter and then use a fork to work the ingredients together until you have a nice crumbly streusel. Make sure to not over-work the topping or you’ll end up with more of a paste than a crumble. No worries, though, it’ll still taste amazing.
Then all that’s left to do is bake and drizzle everything with a simple, 2-ingredient vanilla glaze.
But Where’s the Coffee?
I’ve gotten a few e-mails and comments from people asking me how I can call this a “coffee cake” recipe when there’s absolutely no coffee in the recipe. Coffee cake (at least in America, though I know this is the case in other countries as well) refers to a cake that is often served with coffee, not a coffee-flavored one. While I guess any cake you serve with coffee could fit the bill, coffee cake as I know it should always have a buttery-soft crumb and a mountain of streusel, just like today’s recipe.
How to Store Coffee Cake
This recipe yields a wonderfully moist, tender crumb that stays soft for days. Be sure to store it in an airtight container at room temperature. I recommend enjoying within 3 days. While I haven’t frozen this coffee cake myself, I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t do well in the freezer (do not refrigerate it, though, or it will dry out).
More Great Breakfast Recipes to Try:
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- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened (113g)
- 8 oz cream cheese softened (225g)
- 1 cup light brown sugar tightly packed (200g)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar (100g)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (335g)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (120ml)
- 1/4 cup sugar (50g)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar (65g)
- 2-3 teaspoons milk
- Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease and flour a 13x9 baking pan.
- In stand mixer, or using an electric mixer in large bowl, cream together butter and cream cheese.
- Beat in sugars until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. Scrape down sides and bottom of mixing bowl with rubber spatula.
- Stir in vanilla extract.
- In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cornstarch and salt.
- Gradually add flour mixture to wet ingredients, alternating with buttermilk, until all of the flour mixture and buttermilk have been combined.
- Spread about half of the batter into prepared pan (batter will be thick).
- Quickly whisk together sugar and cinnamon for cinnamon ripple layer in a small bowl and sprinkle it evenly over the batter.
- Dollop remaining batter over the cinnamon sugar layer and use a knife to spread evenly overtop. It's OK if you end up disturbing the cinnamon sugar layer a bit, it will be a nice swirl when it bakes. Prepare your streusel topping.
- Melt butter in a medium-sized bowl on 10 second increments (stirring between) until just melted (you don't want it to be too hot, if it does get too hot allow to cool.
- Use a fork to whisk together your flour, sugars, cinnamon, and salt. Pour melted butter over mixture and use a fork to stir until combined (mixture should be crumbly).
- Sprinkle streusel evenly over batter.
- Bake on 350F for 40-50 minutes (check doneness with a toothpick inserted in center).
- Allow to cool before cutting and serving.
- If desired, make glaze by whisking together powdered sugar and milk. Drizzle over cooled coffee cake.
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Originally published April 10th, 2017. Post updated to include more details and information and a video February 2020. Recipe remains the same, it was perfect as-is!