Make a moist, coffee cake from scratch with 10 minutes of prep time and everyday kitchen staples! It’s laced with the best cinnamon streusel topping and is so good for breakfast, snack, or dessert!
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Coffee Cake with Streusel Crumb Topping
I’ve had my fair share of coffee cakes, and I can tell you this one is by far the best one I’ve ever had. It’s moist, slightly dense, yet still nice and light. It’s everything a good coffee cake recipe should be! It takes just 10 minutes of prep using basic pantry and baking staples and then the rest is hands-off baking time. These coffee cake muffins or this pumpkin coffee cake are also fabulous if you want another idea to try.
The results of this classic recipe are a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth tender crumb that is delicately sweet with a layer of cinnamon filling in the middle. There’s also a layer of that sweet crunch on top!
I will sometimes make two and freeze one. It comes in handy for last-minute guests! Serve it at room temperature or warmed up with a scoop of ice for an extra special treat!
What is coffee cake?
You may have realized by now that it isn’t made with coffee at all! Or at least, it doesn’t have to be. Traditionally, it is a vanilla sponge cake layered with a single layer of streusel in the middle and topped with even more. It’s nice and light and was originally meant to be served during a coffee break.
The best homemade coffee cake is not decadent or indulgent, which makes it appropriate for breakfast or brunch. You can also enjoy a slice for an afternoon snack with a cup of hot coffee or tea and then have a piece for dessert. It’s perfect for baby showers, wedding showers, or a special occasion like Easter. There is never a wrong time to have coffee cake!
For the Cake
- All-purpose flour – Great choice for this type of cake. For gluten-free flour, try Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 gluten-free all-purpose flour instead.
- Sugar – We’re using white sugar to sweeten the cake. I prefer it to brown sugar so that the color of the cake stays light and there is a nice distinction between the layers and the ribbon of streusel.
- Baking powder – The leavening agent we’re using to deliver a fluffy texture.
- Cinnamon – A hint of cinnamon throughout the cake itself will pair well with the vanilla as well as complement the cinnamon in the streusel.
- Butter – You want to start with room temperature so that it is easy to cream. Take it out at least 1 hour ahead of time. However, keep some butter in the fridge for the cinnamon streusel topping. For a lower-calorie cake, swap out this butter for an equal amount of unsweetened applesauce.
- Milk – Use any kind of milk you’d like. You can replace the milk with sour cream or plain Greek yogurt if you’d like.
- Egg – Used for binding and moisture. You’ll need just one large egg.
- Vanilla – A dash of vanilla just elevates the flavor of almost any baked good!
For the Crumb Topping
A combination of brown sugar, white sugar, all-purpose flour, ground cinnamon, and cubes of cold butter are mixed to combine into a crumble. The flour helps keep the streusel suspended to ensure it doesn’t blend into the cake batter. This way you can see that beautiful clean line right across the middle.
We use cold butter so that it holds together longer as it bakes and doesn’t turn into a melty runny mess.
How to Make Coffee Cake
This recipe will come together in a few simple steps and no hand mixer! It’s perfect for beginner bakers or whipping up last minute for an easy treat!
Step 1: To make the streusel topping combine the sugars, flour, and cinnamon into a bowl and mix well.
Step 2: Add the cold cubes of butter and use a fork (or your hands) to mix in the butter. You should see crumbles start to form, that’s what you want. Set it aside. (a food processor would work as well)
Step 3: In a separate bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and use a whisk to mix well. Add the butter and blend well, scraping down the sides of the bowl
Step 4: To the same bowl, add the milk, egg, and vanilla extract and stir until the flour mixture barely blended. Do not overmix!
Step 5: Pour half the cake batter into the greased 8 x8 square baking dish and sprinkle a thin layer of the prepared crumb topping across the batter.
Step 6: Add the remaining batter into the baking dish then sprinkle the remaining layer of streusel on the top of the cake.
Step 7: Bake in a preheated oven for 40 minutes. Check for doneness using a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s done!
Step 8: Cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing it into 9 squares.
1: Adding about ¼-1/3 cup of chocolate chips can add texture, and chocolatey flavor, and it looks great too!
2: You can also add ½ cup of fresh sliced apples, peaches, or blueberries to the cake batter.
3: For added crunch to the streusel topping sometimes I like to add chopped pecans, almonds, or walnuts.
- More cake. You can double this recipe and use a 9X13 rectangle baking dish.
- Right amount of flour. Make sure to measure your flour correctly to avoid using too much leaving you with a denser texture than anticipated. Spoon and level your flour. Use a scale if you have one for accuracy.
- You butter be prepared! Remember to separate the butter you’re using for the batter from what you’re using in the topping. One needs to be softened and the other nice and cold!
- Take it up a notch. If you’re enjoying leftovers, put them in the microwave for 10 seconds. It’s so good just slightly warm!
This homemade coffee cake doesn’t need to be refrigerated right away, but it will stay fresher longer if it is. The most important thing is covering it immediately and storing it in an airtight container to maximize freshness.
Keep it on the counter for a couple of days, but then transfer it to the fridge for up to a week if you still have any left!
Once the cake has cooled completely, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap to avoid freezer burn. Keep it in a freezer-friendly Ziploc bag for up to 3 months.
You can! Instead of butter in the batter, replace it with oil. Then swap the dairy milk for any non-dairy milk like almond milk, oat milk, or soy milk. Plain or vanilla-flavored would be great.
For the streusel topping, replace the butter with coconut oil.
They are very similar in their list of ingredients and therefore texture and flavor aren’t too far off either! The major difference is that a crumb cake has a boatload of streusel topping on top. I’m talking almost as high as the cake itself! Whereas, as you know, the traditional coffee cake has a thin layer of crumble in the middle and the top.
Best Easy Coffee Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter room temperature
- 1 cup milk
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Cinnamon Streusel Topping
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup white sugar
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup cold butter diced
- Preheat oven to 350° F and grease an 8×8 square baking dish with butter or spray oil.
Making the crumb topping
- Add the flour, brown sugar, white sugar, and cinnamon to a small mixing bowl and mix together.
- Add the diced cold butter to the flour mixture and cut it into the flour mixture using a fork or two knives. Make sure all of the flour and sugar mixed and it becomes moist and crumbly. I have even used my hands.
Making the Cake
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and mix well.
- Add the butter to the dry ingredients and blend well.
- Add the milk, egg, and vanilla extract and stir until just barely blended and the
- Pour half of the cake batter into the baking dish and sprinkle a thin layer of the crumb topping across the batter.
- Then pour the remaining batter in and spread evenly.
- Top with the remaining streusel topping and again spread evenly across the top.
Baking the Coffee Cake
- Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.
- Cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing into 9 squares.