Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake


I am currently in love with baked goods that contain sour cream. Over the past few weeks I have made sour cream blueberry muffins and a sour cream cinnamon streusel coffee cake. Twice. I had to make sure I could duplicate the results, right? The sour cream adds a nice moistness, along with a richness that you can’t really duplicate with any other ingredient.

The coffee cake is out of a Farm Journal cookbook that I picked up from the bargain table at Waldenbooks right after Rich and I got married. That dates us, since Waldenbooks disappeared into bookstore heaven eons ago. Their bargain tables were always good, unlike the bargain tables and shelves at big bookstores today. Not sure where the good cookbooks (and other books) go these days, but not anywhere easy to find. But I digress – back to cake.

I have tinkered with this cake several times since I bought the book. The cake originally called for baking it in a tube pan, and putting all the crumbs on top of the batter. This makes for a big cake, with a thick layer of crumbs on the bottom when you turn the cake out onto a plate. Or on the top, if you turn the cake back over. The first change I made was to use half the crumbs in the middle of the cake and half on top.

Baking the cake in a tube pan sometimes makes it dry, since it is so deep, so I tried it in a 9 by 13 inch pan next. That worked better, but it still made a huge cake. I don’t usually want to eat coffee cake for a week. Or, rather, I want to eat coffee cake for a week, but my jeans seem to think I shouldn’t. In the interests of health, I made a half recipe and baked it in a square pan, still using half the crumbs in the middle and half on top. Now I had a manageable-sized cake that we could eat in a couple of days.

And what a cake – rich, moist vanilla cake with cinnamon streusel threaded through the middle and on top. All it needed was a tiny, or not so tiny, drizzle of vanilla glaze to reach perfection.

Download or print the recipe.

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake
Adapted by The Cook’s Life from
Farm Journal’s “Homemade Breads”
Makes 9-12 servings

Streusel topping and filling:
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup white whole wheat flour*
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter, room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup sour cream

½ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
2-4 teaspoons milk, approximately

*You can substitute all-purpose flour for the whole wheat, if you prefer.

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease an 8 by 8-inch square pan and set aside.

Make streusel: mix flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add butter and mix with a spoon or your fingers until you have moist crumbs that are no larger than a pea, with most of them smaller than that. Set aside.

Mix flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a small bowl and set aside. Beat butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Add about half of the flour mixture stir gently. Mix in sour cream. Add remaining flour mixture and mix until incorporated.

Spoon about half of the batter into the greased pan and spread to the edges. Sprinkle with half of the streusel. Top with dollops of the remaining batter. Spread dollops together, trying not to disturb the streusel too much. Sprinkle top of batter evenly with remaining streusel.

Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs, not batter.

While cake is baking, make icing. Mix powdered sugar, vanilla and 2 teaspoons milk together in a bowl. Gradually add more milk until the glaze is the desired consistency. Add milk very gradually to avoid lumps.

Drizzle warm cake with icing. You may not use all the icing. Serve the rest at the table for anyone who would like a little extra. Let cake cool for a few minutes before cutting into squares. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store at room temperature, tightly covered, for up to three days. Freeze for longer storage.

7 thoughts on “Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

  1. I remember Waldenbooks, too. Sadly, I lost my treasure trove of cookbooks in an ill-starred moving disaster; I miss those messy, worn-in books so much!

    Your coffee cake looks scrumptious! Plan on baking it tomorrow. Thanks!

    • I feel like we should have a moment of silence for your cookbooks. I am so sorry. They are almost like old friends sometimes.

      Let me know how the coffee cake works for you. I just pulled a double recipe, baked in a 9 by 13, out of the oven for Rich’s office. As soon as the post came out, they started sending him treat requests. Hope they like it!

      • It’s funny that your husband’s office watches your posts – and requests treats! You (and he) must be pretty well-appreciated.

        Thank you for your solicitiude over the loss of my cookbooks. I continually tell myself to get over it as they were just ‘things’ but you are right in saying they often become good friends over the years.

        Looking forward to this coffee cake in the morning!

  2. Sarah,
    Great idea to half the recipe and use a square pan! For just us, a 9×13 cake is simply too much. I know my neighbors and coworkers don’t mind at all, though!
    I love sour cream, and this coffee cake sounds delightful. Perhaps I can have the kids make it for a Mother’s day snack?


    • I cut recipes in half all the time. Weekends are our time to indulge in sweets and treats and I don’t need them hanging around during the week. The freezer is also my friend if I decide to make a whole batch of something.

      I think the cake would be a lovely Mother’s Day snack. It keeps really well, so they could also make it on Saturday to serve you breakfast on Sunday, if you were so inclined. A 15 second microwave for each piece makes it as good as fresh from the oven.

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