Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Sour cream coffee cake with streusel topping is a perfectly light and tender accompaniment to a strong cup of coffee. The sour cream in this coffee cake keeps it very moist and adds just a touch of tanginess. Pin this recipe for later>>

Piece of sour cream coffee cake

Coffee Cake Overview

Skill Level: Intermediate | Techniques Used: The Creaming Method for Cakes

This sour cream coffee cake is incredibly rich and so tender it will literally melt in your mouth. The creaming method is used to make the perfect fluffy cake that is combined with a generous amount of streusel topping layered in the middle as well as on top of the cake.

Cake flour is an important ingredient to keep this cake fluffy and tender, but can be substituted with a combination of all-purpose flour and cornstarch if it is not available. (See recipe notes for specifics on substitutions.)

>> For More Detailed Information about Techniques & Ingredient Functions for this recipe scroll past the recipe card. 

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Sour cream coffee cake with streusel topping is the perfectly light and tender accompaniment to a strong cup of coffee. The sour cream in this coffee cake keeps it very moist and adds just a touch of tanginess. 
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Ingredients:

For the Streusel Topping
  • 1 cup (8 oz, 224 gr) brown sugar, lightly packed (light or dark brown)
  • 1 cup (7 oz, 196 gr) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (4.2 oz, 120 gr) all-purpose flour
  • 1 TBSP ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz, 112 gr) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
For the Cake Batter
  • 2 1/2 cups (10 oz, 280 gr) cake flour (*see note for substitution)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt or table salt (use 1/2 tsp if using Diamond kosher)
  • 2 sticks (1 cup, 8 oz, 224 gr) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (10.5 oz, 294 gr) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup (8.5 oz, 238 gr) sour cream, room temperature (*see notes for substitution)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your Oven to 350F (177C). Prepare a 9 x 13 in (23 x 33 cm) baking dish by spraying it with non-stick spray or greasing it with butter.
  2. Prep the Streusel: In a medium mixing bowl, stir together all of the ingredients for the streusel except the butter: brown sugar, granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, cinnamon (if using), and salt. Add the pieces of cold butter into the bowl and use a pastry blender or fork to cut the butter into the mixture until it is the texture of coarse meal. You do not want it to become a cohesive dough. Set aside.
  3. Sift Dry Ingredients for the Cake Batter: In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. This will combine the dry ingredients together and also aerate the flour to create a more light and tender cake. If you do not have a sieve, you can whisk the ingredients together instead. Set aside.
  4. Cream: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter and granulated sugar on medium/high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl halfway through the creaming process.
  5. Add the Eggs: Reduce the mixer's speed to medium/low and add the eggs in one at a time. Wait until the egg is absorbed into the mixture before adding in the next one. This will ensure that your batter doesn't break.
  6. Alternate Adding Dry Ingredients & Sour Cream: With the mixer still running on medium/low speed, add about one quarter of the dry ingredients into the bowl. Once the flour is incorporated into the batter, add about one third of the sour cream. Continue alternating adding the dry ingredients with the sour cream, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. This will ensure that the sour cream can be properly absorbed into the batter without overdeveloping the gluten.
  7. Alternate Cake Layer with Streusel Topping: Spread a thin layer of batter in the bottom of the prepared pan. Top the layer of cake with about half of the streusel topping. Spread the rest of the cake batter over top of the streusel layer and even it out with an offset or rubber spatula. Top the cake with the remaining streusel topping.
  8. Bake at 350 F (177 C) for 45-55 minutes, until a tester comes out of the center with moist crumbs. If the streusel starts browning too much you can cover the cake with a piece of foil during the last part of baking.
  9. Cool before slicing. Store at room temperature covered with foil for up to 3 days.

Substitution Notes:

  • The cake flour can be substituted  by using 2 TBSP (0.5 oz, 14 gr) of cornstarch and 1 cup minus 2 TBSP (3.7 oz, 104 gr) all-purpose flour. Sift the two ingredients together three times to combine the ingredients and aerate the flour so that it behaves more like cake flour.
  • The sour cream can be substituted with an equal amount of full fat plain yogurt or use 3/4 cup milk mixed with 1 tsp vinegar and add 3 TBSP to the total amount of butter used in the recipe.
Recipe adapted from the Crumb Cake Recipe in The Baker's Manual. All images and text ©.

Tips, Tricks, and Techniques for Success

  • It is extremely important that your ingredients are at room temperature for this recipe. This ensures that the butter and sugar will maintain the web of air that is created during the creaming process. Check out this article for tips on how to quickly bring ingredients to room temperature if you were not able to plan ahead.
  • Because this sour cream coffee cake is a butter based cake it uses The Creaming Method for the process of making the batter. This process is simple, but understanding the basic process will set you up for success in creating an incredibly tender and light cake.
  • The streusel topping for this recipe can be made ahead of time and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before making this cake.

Ingredient Functions

  • Cake flour is used in this recipe instead of all-purpose flour because it has a lower protein content and a finer grind. All-purpose flour mixed with cornstarch can be substituted if cake flour is not available. (See recipe notes for amounts.)
  • Baking powder is a chemical leavenor that helps make the cake rise. The baking powder is doing most of the heavy lifting in this recipe.
  • Baking soda is also a chemical leavenor, but is used in this recipe because there is an acidic ingredient present, sour cream. The baking soda and sour cream will interact with each other to further help the cake to rise and to create tenderness.
  • Salt balances out the sweetness of the cake and ensures that it does not taste flat.
  • Butter adds flavor as well as tenderness and richness to the coffee cake. The butter needs to be at room temperature so that it will hold a web of air when beaten with the sugar. These air pockets support the role of the baking powder and baking soda and expand when baked to help the cake rise.
  • Granulated sugar sweetens the cake and also works in conjunction with the butter to create air pockets when beaten together. This process is called “creaming”.
  • Vanilla only serves to add flavor to the cake. It could be left out completely or replaced with almond extract if preferred.
  • Eggs serve several purposes in a cake, the main one being binding the structure together. Eggs also help leaven the cake and adds to the tenderness and richness.
  • Sour Cream is used as the main source of moisture in this cake. Sour cream is also acidic and works in partnership with the baking soda to make the cake rise. Sour cream can be substituted with plain yogurt if necessary.

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8 comments on “Sour Cream Coffee Cake”

  1. This recipe looks amazing! Have you ever tried with an egg substitute such as egg replacer powder or flax egg?

    • Hi Carlee, I’m sorry to report I have not tried that with this cake. I’m a bit skeptical just because of how the eggs work with the creaming process. But if you do try it let me know how it goes!

  2. I’ve been craving a simple coffee cake with streusel topping for the longest time, and voila! This recipe showed up in my e-mail inbox, today! It could not have come at a better time. You can bet I’ll be making this, first thing tomorrow morning. Can’t wait to enjoy a piece with tomorrow’s morning coffee. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. Oh my goodness. This was delicious. Made it this morning with a few changes. I only put 1/2 cup of sugar total in the streusel and also added 1 cut of oats to the toppings. Added cardamom to both the streusel and the cake. (Should have added more – I added a tsp to both – next time it will be 2 tsps. each!).
    I added about 1/2 cup of halved fresh cranberries and 1 grated apple to the dough. One of my daughters asked that I put more cranberries in next time – so that’s another change I’ll make. Also I only used 1/2 cup of sugar in the cake batter. I really don’t like cakes that are very sweet so I always reduce the sugar and make up for it with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream if that cake is a little too bland. Also I replaced 1/2 cup of the cake flour with wheat germ and also added 1/4 cup of wheat germ to the topping (took away 1/4 cup of the flour in the streusel). I’m a wheat-germ-a-holic so I always find a way to put it into my baking! But boy was the result delicious. We’re Scandinavian and it had a very “bake home” feel to it. The only problem will be that I’m going to eat waaaay too much of it!

  4. coffee cake is something I love to get at coffee shops and frequently forget about it otherwise! I love this recipe, it looks totally perfect!

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