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This fluffy, moist sour cream cinnamon coffee cake has a brown sugar streusel layered in the middle and sprinkled on top. This is the perfect baked treat to serve when company pops over. Using sour cream in the batter creates a moist, tender cake and adding pecans to the streusel gives it the perfect crunch it needs. Ready in about under an hour!
One of my favorite recipes I created for my new cookbook was this sour cream cinnamon coffee cake. So I knew it would be so wrong with me if I didn’t share it here with you.
My new cookbook, Dessert Cookbook For Beginners, is chock full of dessert recipes with the beginner baker in mind. Like these iced lemon cookies and super simple carrot walnut cupcakes I’ve got new cakes, cupcakes, pies, crisps, and even some wonderfully easy no bake treats for you as well!
And this sour cream coffee cake recipe is one of those recipes from the book. I love, love, love a good coffee cake recipe. That brown sugar streusel topping….can anyone resist it? This topping I added some chopped, toasted pecans (or walnuts also work) to give it some crunch.
This streusel topping I layered in the middle of the cake batter and sprinkled on top before baking. The cake batter is a simple creamed vanilla cake batter made with butter, and sour cream to make it moist.
Seriously, all you are going to need with this pecan sour cream coffee cake is a big ol’ cup of coffee to wash it down.
Why is it called coffee cake?
Sorry but no there isn’t coffee in this coffee cake! Despite it’s name. Coffee cake is named because it’s to be enjoyed with a cup of coffee, or tea. It’s the perfect cake to serve a cuppa….morning, noon, or night!
And like any coffee cake basically it’s a simple cake with a streusel, and sometimes icing. This cake doesn’t have an icing but you could always drizzle one or dust on a little powdered sugar before serving.
Why I Love This Sour Cream Cinnamon Coffee Cake
- It’s pretty quick and simple to throw together. This cake is basically done in under an hour and doesn’t need any fancy decorations, frosting, or equipment to get the job done.
- That topping. I mean the streusel, that’s also layered in the middle, is just my favorite.
- Perfect for whenever! Whether you want to serve this after dinner with a cup of coffee, or for breakfast or brunch this is really an anytime cake.
- Pecans – I used pecans, but it would be also delicious with walnuts. If you have a nut allergy, the nuts can be omitted. I prefer to toast them first, but this is optional.
- Sour Cream – As the name suggests, this coffee cake is made with sour cream. Sour cream helps to make this coffee cake nice and tender, and moist. I recommend using full-fat sour cream. Light sour cream may work but I do not recommend using fat free. The only substitution I can recommend is using full-fat greek yogurt if you don’t have sour cream.
Make The Coffee Cake Topping
To start making this sour cream coffee cake recipe you want to assemble your streusel topping. Here is what you need for your streusel topping. Just 3 simple ingredients! Easy peasy. Again, you could always omit the pecans or swap them out for some walnuts.
You can toast the nuts first if you like. I like to toast them first to bring out the flavor of the pecans. If you do toast the pecans measure my pecans first, then toast them in the oven as pecan halves. Once they are toasted, I then chop them. I do find, that sometimes a couple pecans on top can get a little “extra toasty” after baking – if this happens to you..just simply remove those from the top.
Then in a small mixing bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and your chopped pecans. Just set that aside as you make the coffee cake batter.
Make The Coffee Cake Batter
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Next you want to cream your softened butter and sugar. Make sure you butter is properly softened, if it’s too cold it won’t cream and hold the air well you incorporate during this process.
Then you want to add your room temperature eggs one at a time so they have time to incorporate. Make sure to mix in between each addition. And don’t forget to scrape down the bowl as needed.
You can bring your eggs to room temperature quickly by placing them in a bowl for 10 minutes before you start. But make sure they are room temperature or they may seize the butter up in the bowl that you just beautifully creamed and cause the batter to break.
Then add in your vanilla extract (pure is best for flavor!) and mix to combine.
Next you want to alternate adding your sour cream and dry ingredients together. Start by adding the flour mixture. I add about 1/3 of the flour mixture. You can just eyeball it. No need to measure.
And then you want to add about 1/2 of your sour cream. Again, make sure it’s room temperature and just eyeball about half.
Then you will repeat adding another 1/3 of the flour, then the rest of your sour cream. And finish with adding the rest of your flour. Whenever a recipe calls for “alternating your dry and wet ingredients” always make sure to end with the flour so you end up with a smooth batter.
When the las the of the batter has been mixed in you want to make sure to not stop mixing so you don’t accidentally overmix. Make sure there are no pockets of flour remaining but a few lumps in the batter are fine. If you continue to mix at this point, you will cause too much gluten to form and create a chewy, tough-textured cake.
Why do you alternate the dry and wet ingredients?
This recipe calls for you to alternate adding the dry ingredients with the sour cream. And this is for a good reason! If you were to add all of your flour all at once it could cause you to over mix the batter, because it’s so thick. And adding all the liquid all at once could cause your cake batter to separate as well.
So to get a smooth batter that we don’t overmix we want to gradually introduce these ingredients to give the time for the batter to come together, and do so easily. A smooth batter that isn’t over mixed will result in a light, fluffy coffee cake in the end!
Assemble The Sour Cream Coffee Cake
You want to spread half the batter into the pan. I never get this right, friend so dont’ panic if you don’t either. I always either do too little or too much. Sometimes my streusel layer is in the middle of my cake, sometimes it’s more near the top or bottom. Don’t worry if yours ends up like mine too!
I always recommend to aim for what seems like less of the batter when you do this step and you should be good!
Then sprinkle on half of your streusel topping. Half of your streusel will go in the middle and the other half will go on top at the end, so make sure to save half for the top!
Then you want to spread the remaining batter on top. I like to dollop it on first, and then spread it out with a spatula.
If you didn’t leave enough batter for the second layer, it might be a bit difficult to spread. Do the best you can and try not to disturb the topping underneath. It’s ok if you don’t get this perfect. Trust me, it’s all going to be delicious.
Go ahead and sprinkle on the rest of your topping make sure all of the cake is covered.
Then bake for 30-40 minutes in a preheated 350oF (180oC) or until golden brown, and the inserted toothpick comes out clean (or with a few moist crumbs). Then take it out of the oven to cool before digging in.
You could add a simple vanilla icing, or dust with a little powdered sugar like I did before serving. Or simply serve as is! It’s all going to be delicious.
Heather’s Baking Tips
- Measure Your Flour Correctly. Measuring your flour is the #1 mistake most beginner bakers make. I do recommend measuring by weight so there’s no room for error. However, if you’re new to baking and using measuring by volume (aka using cups) then spoon your flour into the cup and level it off. Do not pack it down or stuff the cup full of flour. This will result in too much flour and will result in a dense, heavy cake.
- Bring Your Refrigerator Ingredients To Room Temperature. All ingredients should be “like temperatures”, which means to get a smooth batter we need our ingredients to be at room temperature to play along well. So your butter, eggs, and sour cream all need to be at room temperature so they mix easily together.
- Spread less batter than you think on the bottom. This has taken me a few attempts, but I always used to spread what I thought was “half” on the bottom and find I had not enough for the top. The recipe still works, and my streusel wasn’t always in the middle, but my suggestion is to spread down a little less than you think leaving you enough for the top layer.
You can easily make this coffee cake ahead of time and store it for later, or just store any leftovers as well by keeping it covered for up to 2 days on the counter, or in the fridge for up to 5 days. Although it’s always better fresh if eaten within the first two days!
Yes just double the ingredients and bake in a 9×13 pan. This may affect the time baking slightly, and you may need to bake for slightly longer so be sure to test for doneness before removing from the oven.
I prefer to toast them but you can skip this step making this coffee cake come together much faster. If you do toast them, spread your pecan halves on a baking sheet and bake at 350oF for 5-7 minutes. And then chop once they are cooled. Sometimes or two pecan pieces on top after baking got a little “toasty” for me so I just removed those, but otherwise they’re wonderful toasted and bring out great flavor!
This coffee cake freezes beautifully! You can wrap up any leftover pieces in plastic wrap and then pop into a plastic bag and freeze for 3 months. Then when ready to enjoy, simply unwrap and thaw at room temperature before serving. I prefer to warm up a slice in the microwave for 10-15 seconds before eating.
More Recipes To Try
Sour Cream Cinnamon Coffee Cake
For the topping
- ½ cup (107 g) light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ cup (57 g) chopped pecans * see note
For the cake
- 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour * spooned and leveled
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick, 113 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (107 g) packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup (227 g) sour cream
- Prep oven and pans. Position rack to center of oven and preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a 9×9 (or 8×8) pan with butter or non-stick cooking spray.
- Make topping. In a small mixing bowl, stir together brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts. Set aside.
- Combine dry ingredients. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- Cream butter and sugars. In a large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add wet ingredients. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add vanilla and mix to combine.
- Alternate dry with sour cream. Add the flour mixture, alternately with the sour cream in 3 additions, starting and ending with the flour.
- Layer the batter with the topping. Spread half the batter into the pan. Top with half of the brown sugar topping. Spread remaining batter on top and sprinkle with remaining topping.
- Bake. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown, and the inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool before serving.
- Make ahead/Storage: You can easily make this coffee cake ahead of time and store it for later, or just store any leftovers as well by keeping it covered for up to 2 days on the counter, or in the fridge for up to 5 days. Although it’s always better fresh if eaten within the first two days!
- Freezing: This coffee cake freezes beautifully! You can wrap up any leftover pieces in plastic wrap and then pop into a plastic bag and freeze for 3 months. Then when ready to enjoy, simply unwrap and thaw at room temperature before serving. I prefer to warm up a slice in the microwave for 10-15 seconds before eating.
- Doubling The Recipe: You can double the recipe if you like. Just double the ingredients and bake in a 9×13 pan. This may affect the time baking slightly, and you may need to bake for slightly longer so be sure to test for doneness before removing from the oven.
- Pecans: I prefer to toast them but you can skip this step making this coffee cake come together much faster. If you do toast them, spread your pecan halves on a baking sheet and bake at 350oF for 5-7 minutes. And then chop once they are cooled and then measure out your 1/2 cup. Sometimes one or two pecan pieces on top after baking got a little “toasty” for me so I just removed those, but otherwise they’re wonderful toasted and bring out great flavor! You can also omit the pecans if need be or swap out with walnuts.
- Sour Cream: I recommend using full-fat sour cream. Light sour cream may work but I do not recommend using fat free. The only substitution I can recommend is using full-fat greek yogurt if you don’t have sour cream.