How to Make Coffee Cake

Coffee cake is a broad term for a moist, tender-crumbed sweet that pairs with a cup of coffee in a most satisfying way. Learn the basics here, and try some of our tastiest coffee cake recipes, including overnight, berry-filled, and heart-healthy versions.

Coffee cakes can be square, rectangular, round, or made in a fluted tube (Bundt) pan. Some have streusel or crumb toppings and a drizzle of icing and others are filled with a ribbon of fruit or berries. Such flexibility allows for plenty of creativity with memorable results. These cakes are quick enough to whip together on a weekend morning, but you can also freeze the cake ahead or opt for the overnight recipe.

How to Make Blueberry-Streusel Coffee Cake

Every cook needs a basic, go-to cake that's at home on a brunch table, at breakfast next to a cup of tea or coffee, and as an afternoon snack. This recipe is just that, and it takes only 30 minutes to prep before popping it into the oven. The sour cream in the batter makes it rich and tender, and the blueberries up the flavor and visual appeal. This cake makes 16 servings.

1. Preheat the Oven to 350 degrees F.

Read the recipe through. If using frozen blueberries, place in a colander and run cool water over them until thawed or set the package in a bowl filled with cool water until the berries are soft. This is also a good time to set out the sour cream, butter, and eggs on the counter. Room-temperature ingredients work best for this cake, and it will take about 30 minutes for the butter to soften. Grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside.

2. Make the Streusel Topper

A streusel topping is a sweet crumbly mixture that is sprinkled atop the cake. For topping, in a small bowl stir together 1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar, 1 cup coarsely chopped nuts, and 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon. This mixture is fairly flexible. You can use light or dark brown sugar and any kind of nut, including almonds, walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts. If you like, substitute 2 teaspoons apple pie spice for 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon or 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg for 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon.

3. Prepare the Batter

In another small bowl stir together one 8-ounce carton sour cream and 1 teaspoon baking soda. In a large bowl combine 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

  • Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add 3 eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla; beat until combined. Add 2 cups all-purpose flour and 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder; beat until combined. Beat in the sour cream mixture.

4. Spread the Batter

Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Using a flat-edge spatula, spread the batter evenly over the bottom of the pan.

5. Sprinkle with Berries.

Measure 2 cups fresh blueberries or frozen blueberries, thawed. Use your hands or a large spoon to sprinkle the berries evenly over the batter. Next, sprinkle with half of the streusel topping. Carefully pour the remaining batter over the layers in pan and spread it evenly to cover the berries and streusel. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining streusel topping.

  • Tip: If you like, you can omit the blueberries or substitute fresh or frozen raspberries (thawed) or 1 to 1-1/2 cups dried cherries for the blueberries.

6. Bake

Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Carefully remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. While cooling, stir together the powdered sugar icing.

  • Tip: Test the cake at 35 minutes and try to avoid the blueberries when inserting the toothpick. If batter or crumbs are attached to the toothpick, return the cake to the oven for 3 to 5 minutes longer and test again.

7. Make the Powdered Sugar Icing

In a small bowl stir together 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons milk, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in enough additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to make the icing a drizzling consistency. Using a whisk or a spoon, drizzle the icing over the slightly cooled cake and serve warm or cool completely. A serrated knife works best for cutting the cake.                      

To Freeze the Coffee Cake: Prepare the coffee cake as directed, except cool completely and do not drizzle with icing. Leave the cake in the pan and cover with a lid or foil or cut into pieces and place in a freezer container and cover. Label with the recipe name and date and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw at room temperature and drizzle with icing.

Overnight Coffee Cake

This is also a streusel-top cake, made in a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Once the cake is assembled, you can either bake it right away or chill it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours as a convenient make-ahead option. It makes 15 or 16 servings.

1. Prep the Pan & Ingredients

Read the recipe through. If baking right away, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. This is a good time to set out the butter, eggs, and ricotta cheese on the counter. Room temperature ingredients work best for this cake, and it will take about 30 minutes for the butter to soften. Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of a 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside. In a 3-quart bowl combine 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt; set aside.

2. Make the Batter

In a 4-quart mixing bowl beat 1 cup (2 sticks) butter on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar and beat until combined. Add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in one 15-ounce carton ricotta cheese cheese. Beat in as much of the flour mixture as you can. Stir in any remaining flour mixture with a spoon. Using a flat-edge spatula, spread the batter in the prepared pan.

3. Make the Streusel Topper

In a small bowl combine 3/4 cup chopped nuts (any kind), 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar, 2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ, 1 tablespoons ground cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Sprinkle evenly over the batter in the pan. If desired, cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

4. Bake

If refrigerated, remove the cake from the refrigerator and uncover. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool slightly in the pan on a wire rack. Serve warm.


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