My deliriously soft coffee cake has a surprise ripple of cinnamon in the middle and a super simple streusel topping. This recipe takes just 30 minutes to prep and makes enough to feed a crowd (if you’re willing to share!). 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 five years ago, I have yet to find another that measures up.
Maybe it’s that soft, sweet (but not too-sweet) crumb, or the ribbon of cinnamon tucked away in the center. Maybe it’s that buttery blanket of streusel on the top, or the simple drizzle of vanilla glaze. Whatever it is, I’m hooked, and I know you will be too!
Serve this one up at your next special occasion or brunch (scones or French toast casserole are always a hit, too!), and just sit back and watch your guest’s eyes roll to the back of their heads with their first bite. Or just make it for dessert tonight, because Thursday’s are worth celebrating, too!
Why You’ll Love My Recipe:
- Has the softest texture and so much flavor, thanks to my secret ingredient 🤫
- Bakes in a large pan, so it’s perfect for serving to a crowd.
- The streusel topping is incredibly easy to make with NO pastry cutter!
- Takes just half an hour to prep before going in the oven.
What You Need
I’m not going to go over every ingredient on this list, but there are a few important ones worth a mention:
- Cream cheese. This is my secret weapon. I substitute some of the butter for cream cheese, and I believe this is what makes my recipe better than any other out there. The crumb on this cake is so soft, so moist, so melt-in-your-mouth–and the flavor is divine. And in case you’re worried that it makes the cake actually taste like cream cheese, it doesn’t!
- Sugar. While this probably isn’t an unexpected ingredient, using a blend of granulated and light brown sugar certainly isn’t always the norm. I love using brown sugar in many classic recipes where just granulated is typically used (like my chocolate cake!) because it adds depth of flavor and moisture.
- Cornstarch. We’ll add this to encourage a soft, tender, melt-in-your-mouth crumb. Cornstarch is another secret ingredient that I use in many of my recipes (remember my cinnamon rolls or chocolate chip cookies!?).
- Buttermilk. Regular whole milk would work here, but buttermilk adds flavor and moisture to the end-result (which is what makes my buttermilk pancakes so special). If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, feel free to use my buttermilk substitute instead.
SAM’S TIP: This batter will be thicker than what you’re used to, and that’s exactly as it should be. Because of this, when you layer your cinnamon sugar swirl in the center, the top layer can be a bit tricky to spread. You can try to smooth it over the surface like I suggest in the recipe, or you can just use a knife and swirl it into the cinnamon and sugar.
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Coffee Cake
- Cream together the cream cheese and butter, then add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
- Alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk to the wet ingredients.
- Pour half the batter into your greased and floured pan, then add the cinnamon sugar layer.
- Add the remaining batter on top and use a knife to smooth (if it gives you a hard time, don’t stress it and just use a knife to swirl the batter and cinnamon together!).
- Melt your butter, then pour it over the remaining streusel ingredients and toss/claw the ingredients together to combine. You want the mixture to be nice and clumpy, don’t overwork it or it’ll be pasty and difficult to sprinkle!
- Sprinkle streusel over the prepared cake and bake for 40-50 minutes.
SAM’S TIP: While overmixing isn’t as much of a concern with this recipe, overbaking is definitely possible. If your cake turns out dense or dry, it was probably baked for a few minutes too long. Keep a close eye on your cake to make sure this doesn’t happen to you!
Frequently Asked Questions
Coffee cake (at least in America, though I know this is the case in other countries as well) doesn’t get its name because it contains coffee; rather, the name refers to a cake that is often served with coffee. While technically any cake you serve with coffee could fit the bill, coffee cake as I know it should always have a buttery-soft crumb and lots of streusel, just like today’s recipe.
Yes! Readers have reported this cake takes about 55 minutes to bake in a bundt pan. I do also have a classic vanilla bundt cake recipe.
This recipe yields a wonderfully moist, tender crumb that stays soft for days. To keep it tasting fresh, I recommend you store it in an airtight container at room temperature and enjoy within 3 days. While I haven’t frozen this cake, 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!).
Not quite! Crumb cake has a much thicker crumb topping with less cinnamon, and it lacks the cinnamon ripple that I add to the middle of my coffee cake. Both are equally delicious and go great with a cup of coffee though!
Serve yourself a slice (with or without coffee!) and admire just how beautiful a simple breakfast cake can really be ❤
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened (113g)
- 8 oz cream cheese softened (225g)
- 1 cup light brown sugar tightly packed (200g)
- ½ cup granulated sugar (100g)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (335g)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup buttermilk (120ml)
- ¼ cup sugar (50g)
- 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup powdered sugar (65g)
- 2-3 teaspoons milk
- Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease and flour a 13×9 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. If it gives you a tough time/doesn't want to spread, just try your best but don't stress! If it's easier, just swirl the cinnamon/sugar in with a knife. Set aside and 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 stir together your flour, sugars, cinnamon, and salt. Pour melted butter over mixture and use a fork to toss/claw together the ingredients 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, it should come out clean or with a few moist crumbs).
- Allow to cool before cutting and serving.
- If desired, make glaze by whisking together powdered sugar and milk. Drizzle over cooled coffee cake.
StoringStore leftover coffee cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
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!