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>>
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.)
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.
- 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.
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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- COOL before slicing. Store at room temperature covered with foil for up to 3 days.
- 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.