Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Learn how to make an easy, rich and delicious old-fashioned sour cream coffee cake. The sour cream leaves this cake extra tender and so flavorful! And the pecan crumb topping is so addicting!
Sour cream coffee cake aka my coffees BFFL.
I made a large pan of homemade sour cream coffee cake the other day because I was itching to bake something and because my coffee was lonely in the morning. It’s the perfect spring weekend baking project but also doubles as a great addition to the Easter or Mother’s Day brunch table.
The second batch of this sour cream coffee cake went right to work with hubby because otherwise, it was doomed to end up going straight to my thighs.
Let’s face it, anything that’s got a layer of cinnamon built in and one on top makes my heart skip a beat.
A homemade sour cream coffee cake is an essential breakfast treat that doesn’t require much work and makes enough to share with family or friends. It’s one of these easiest recipes I’ve shared that has a crumb cake filling and a topping. The nutty topping on top is the same and the filling in the middle of the cake.
Cinnamon and I weren’t always friends. As a child, I loathed anything that had cinnamon in it or on it. And then all of a sudden, I started going backwards. Just making up for lost time now, I guess. It’s my secret ingredient in my homemade key lime pie bars; and if that sound weird, look at the ratings on that recipe. Cinnamon is also the star of my cinnamon swirl bread, duh right? And if you haven’t made my 1-hour cinnamon rolls, I have to say; please consider this your personal invitation. They. Are. So. Good.
What is old fashioned sour cream coffee cake?
Coffee cake, also referred to as a crumb cake, is a tender, lightly sweetened cake, usually paired or served with coffee. It sometimes contains a cinnamon streusel-like crumb topping and occasionally, some cakes also have this in the center. Icing or glaze is often used but isn’t mandatory. We call this a sour cream coffee cake because sour cream is used to make this breakfast cake more tender and flavorful.
What do you need to make the crumb topping/filling for sour cream coffee cake:
To keep things simple, I made us a crumb filling that also doubles as the topping
- light brown sugar
- granulated sugar
- chopped pecans
- melted butter
- ground cinnamon
- ground nutmeg
A couple of notes:
- The nutmeg is optional. I like to use nutmeg in recipes that call for cinnamon as it just helps bring out the taste of cinnamon. However, feel free to leave it out if you don’t have any on hand, it’s just ⅛ of a teaspoon!
- I usually buy pecan halves in bulk from the grocery store and then run them through the food processor. You don’t have to run out and buy ‘chopped pecans’ for this recipe.
How to make the batter for sour cream coffee cake:
- all-purpose flour
- baking powder and baking soda
- salted butter
- granulated sugar
- vanilla extract
- sour cream
If you don’t have salted butter for this recipe, feel free to use unsalted butter. But be sure to up the salt to ¾ teaspoons in the coffee cake batter.
How to make the best sour cream coffee cake:
Please note that this sour cream coffee cake batter will be a litter thicker than most cake batters we’ve made in the past.
- Start by whipping the butter and sugar together on medium speed in the mixer. This step will help make the cake nice and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time. Wait until the first is entirely incorporated before adding the next. Then, flavor with vanilla.
- Have the dry ingredients all mixed and ready to go in a bowl.
- Lower the speed on the mixer, add ⅓ of the dry ingredients. Save the rest for later.
- Add ½ the sour cream.
- Then, repeat. ⅓ of the flour, the remaining sour cream and follow it up with, you guessed it, the remaining flour.
- Stop the mixer when *just combined*
The trick to spreading the batter with ease:
Since this coffee cake batter is quite thick, I’ve found the best way to ensure the second cake layer goes on smooth is to drop the batter in dollops all over the cake and then gently spread it using an offset or rubber spatula. I like to spray my spatula with just a bit of cooking spray to keep the batter from sticking to the spatula too much! Works like a charm!
Baking dish size:
You’ll want to make this homemade sour cream coffee cake in a 9×13 baking dish. It’s the right size for our cake to crumb ratio and will bake up in the time listed. When you look at the cake batter, it’s gonna look like it’s not enough but trust me; the leavening agents are going to help make the coffee cake rise nice and tall.
How to make and easy glaze:
First off, the icing or glaze for this coffee cake is completely optional. Except, I don’t think I could ever eat a coffee cake without a hint of that powdered sugar goodness. If you’d like to make the glaze, it’s just a ½ cup of powdered sugar (also known and confectioners sugar) and 1-3 teaspoons of milk. Start with one teaspoon and if that glaze is too thick, add more milk until it just pours easily!
Leftover cake should be wrapped and covered tightly and kept for up to 4 days at room temperature.
- ¼ cup EACH: light brown sugar AND granulated sugar
- 1 ¼ cup chopped pecans
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon EACH: salt AND ground nutmeg
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon EACH: baking powder AND baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup salted butter, room temp
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temp
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1¼ cups sour cream, room temperature
- PREP: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray, set aside for later. In a small bowl toss together the light brown sugar, ¼ cup of granulated sugar, pecans, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and melted butter; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and whisk; set aside.
- CAKE: In a large bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, waiting for one to incorporate before adding the next, then add the vanilla. Lower the speed on the mixer to medium-low, and add in one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the sour cream, then one-third of the flour mixture, the remaining sour cream, and finally the last third of the flour mixture. Allow each to combine before adding the next.
- BAKE: Pour about half of the batter into the prepared baking dish. Then sprinkle half of the crumb mixture from step one, evenly over the batter. Drop the remaining cake batter in dollops over the cinnamon sugar mixture and carefully spread using an offset spatula or knife. If the batter sticks to the spatula, just spray the spatula with cooking spray. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture on top of the cake batter and bake the cake for 30-36 minutes or until a toothpick comes out without any wet cake batter. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool before slicing and serving. Check the post for how to make a yummy glaze!
- If you’d like to make the glaze, it’s just a ½ cup of powdered sugar (also known and confectioners sugar) and 1-3 teaspoons of milk. Start with one teaspoon and if that glaze is too thick, add more milk until it just pours easily!