Sour Cream Coffee Cake is the best coffee cake recipe out there! Made with a soft, tender cake that is studded with a rich cinnamon swirl and then finished with a buttery streusel, this coffee cake is perfect for entertaining at brunch or the holidays.
Coffee Cake is one of those recipes that's origin is quite curious, as it does not have any coffee in it. Nor is this cake thought of as a dessert.
Instead, this delicious light cake is designed to be served with a cup of coffee and is often reserved for brunch or holiday breakfasts.
The Best Coffee Cake Recipe
While there are many variations of coffee cakes out there, I do humbly believe that this recipe is the absolute best. And I feel like I can say that without bragging because this recipe for Sour Cream Coffee Cake was shared with me decades ago by a family friend.
It is rich, buttery, full of cinnamon, yet light and tender. It is the perfect touch to a festive brunch when served alongside Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole, fresh fruit, and Baked Bacon. Of course, don't forget the coffee--or better yet, Homemade Lattes.
What sets this recipe for Coffee Cake apart from other recipes is three key components.
- Sour Cream. You may have guessed that Sour Cream Coffee Cake is made with sour cream! Sour cream is folded into the cake batter, which keeps the cake light and fluffy while giving it a bit of tang that balances out the sweetness.
- Cinnamon Swirl. The cake is baked around a cinnamon brown sugar mixture that adds a delicious and beautiful rich swirl throughout the cake. This swirl adds warmth and cinnamon flavor to every bite.
- Buttery Streusel. While most coffee cakes feature streusels, this recipe has streusel overload and that is a good thing! The texture and flavor that the buttery crumble adds to this coffee cake are insanely delicious. In fact, you will never see a crumb of it left behind on my plate! I am sure to lick the plate clean--even when entertaining, it is just that good!
Notes on Ingredients
- Butter: Use unsalted butter for both the cake batter and the streusel. This really gives this coffee cake so much flavor and richness.
- Sour Cream: The sour cream adds moistness and tang to the cake batter. Be sure to use full fat or reduced-fat sour cream, not fat-free as the consistency of the cake may be affected.
- Sugar: This recipe calls for both brown and granulated sugars. The brown sugar adds warmth and color to the cinnamon swirl and the streusel, while the granulated sugar is best suited for the cake batter.
- Nuts: If desired, add chopped pecans or walnuts to the streusel topping for additional crunch and texture. Feel free to omit the nuts if desired though, and this cake will still be plenty delicious.
How to Make Sour Cream Coffee Cake
- Prepare the cinnamon swirl filling. In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. We need to add a bit of floru to the cinnamon filling or else it would be completely absorbed into the cake batter, resutling in no distinctive swirl. Then set it aside for assembling the cake.
- Prepare the streusel. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt until evenly combined. If using chopped nuts, mix them into this mixture and toss to coat. Add in the cold cubed butter, and using your hands, combine the mixture until crumbs form and the butter is well distributed through the flour and sugar. Set aside for assembling the cake.
- Cream the butter and sugar. In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl and add in the eggs, sour cream and vanilla and mix until well incorporated.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and then add that mixture to the wet ingredients using a spatula. Fold the mixture together until it is just combined.
- Layer the cake batter. Spoon half of the cake batter into a buttered 8x8 baking dish. Sprinkle the cinnamon filling evenly over the batter to form that cinnamon swirl. a
- Add remaining batter. Spoon the remaining batter in dollops evenly over the filling and gently smooth it out into an even layer.
- Add the streusel. Evenly sprinkle the streusel mixture over the top of the cake batter.
- Bake the Coffee Cake. Bake until the cake is set, checking after 30 minutes to see if you need to tent the cake with foil so that the streusel does not burn.
- Cool. Let the cake cool for at least 10 minutes on a cooling rack before slicing and serving.
Storing Coffee Cake
Once the cake is fully cooled, Coffee Cake can be stored for up to 3 days at room temperature in an airtight container or wrapped well with plastic wrap.
If you would like to freeze leftover coffee cake, allow the cake to cool fully. Wrap the cooled cake in plastic wrap, then in a layer of foil, and then place in a freezer-safe bag. This triple layer of wrap will help prevent the cake from becoming freezer burned. Thaw the cake overnight in the refrigerator and if desired, warm individual slices in the microwave for 30-45 seconds.
More Favorite Holiday Brunch Recipes
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Sour Cream Coffee Cake
For the Filling
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
For the Streusel
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup cold butter cubed
- ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts optional
For the Cake
- ½ cup unsalted butter 1 stick, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup sour cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch pan with butter.
For the Cinnamon Filling
- In a small bowl whisk together the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon then set aside.
For the Streusel
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt until evenly combined. If using chopped nuts, mix them into this mixture.
- Add in the cold butter and use your fingers to mix the mixture together, until crumbs form and the butter is well distributed through the flour and sugar. Set aside.
For the Cake
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. This should take 3-5 minutes.
- Add in the eggs and mix again to incorporate. Add in the sour cream and vanilla and mix until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture, and use a spatula to combine then fold the mixture together until it is just combined.
- Spoon half of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth into an even bottom layer. Sprinkle the cinnamon filling evenly over the batter and then spoon the remaining batter in dollops evenly over the filling. Gently smooth it out into an even layer. Evenly sprinkle the streusel mixture over the top of the cake batter.
- Bake in preheated oven for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with a few crumbs. Be sure to check on the cake after 25 minutes to see if the streusel is browning too much. If it is, lightly tent with foil and continue baking.
- Remove the cake from the oven and cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.