Coffee Cake is a classic and scrumptious breakfast or snack cake made with a tender vanilla cake and a brown sugar and cinnamon topping.

It’s an easy recipe that’s ready in less than an hour with just 10 minutes of prep! Serve it with Homemade Whipped Cream, vanilla ice cream, or Irish Coffee.

Slice of cinnamon coffee cake on a small dessert plate on a blue and white napkin.

People usually wonder why coffee cake doesn’t actually have any coffee in it. In some regions, like the UK, it’s a sponge cake flavored with coffee. But here in the US, it is generally a sweet cake that is served with coffee or tea.

What Is Coffee Cake?

Coffee Cake comes in many different forms. Make a classically flavored cake like this one or indulge in a Blueberry Coffee Cake or Cherry Cheesecake Coffee Cake. However, the base will almost always be the same: flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and milk. There may be different add-ins or it may have a simple sugar topping like this recipe does or a high crumble topping.

Overhead photo of coffee cake slices in a pan with one slice removed.

What I love about this recipe, the best coffee cake recipe, is that it’s very hands off. It takes about 10 minutes to prep the batter and there’s no need to let the butter soften or milk come to room temperature either!

How To Make Coffee Cake

It looks fancy, but coffee cake is really easy to make. As with any recipe, begin by preheating the oven and greasing the pan. Then gather the ingredients and start mixing!

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and cut in butter until crumbly.
  2. Add in the wet ingredients and transfer into the prepared pan.
  3. Make topping and sprinkle over top the batter. Use a butter knife to swirl the topping into the batter.
  4. Bake until a toothpick comes clean from the center of the cake.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving. How simple is that?

Coffee cake on a dessert plate with a fork with a bite on it sitting next to it.

This coffee cake recipe is best within 2 to 3 days stored at room temperature in an air-tight container. But you can also store it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze it.

Does It Freeze Well?

Yes, it does! Once baked, allow the cake to cool to room temperature before wrapping in plastic wrap and placing inside an air-tight container. I love these 2-gallon freezer bags for storing larger baked goods in the freezer. When you’re ready to enjoy your cake, simply remove from the freezer and allow to thaw at room temperature for several hours.

More Breakfast Baked Goods We Love!

Slice of cinnamon coffee cake on a small dessert plate on a blue and white napkin.
4.96 from 140 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Coffee Cake is a classic and scrumptious breakfast or snack cake made with a tender vanilla cake and a brown sugar and cinnamon topping.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 9 people
Author Rebecca

Ingredients  

Cake

  • 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter cubed
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts optional

Glaze

  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 6 tablespoons powdered sugar

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F and grease an 8x8" square baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
  • Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture until a coarse crumb forms.
  • Add in the egg, milk, and vanilla and mix with a rubber spatula just until combined. The batter will be lumpy. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon and brown sugar, then sprinkle it over the top of the batter in the pan. Use a butter knife to cut lines through the batter. Sprinkle the top with the chopped walnuts, if desired.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, then allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes on a cooling rack.
  • Whisk together the water and powdered sugar to make the glaze and drizzle over the top of the cake before slicing and serving.

Notes

  • Walnut may be omitted or swapped for chopped pecans instead. 
  • Granulated sugar may be used in the topping instead of light brown sugar if you don't have any on hand.
4.96 from 140 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 286 | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 84mg | Potassium: 157mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 215IU | Calcium: 79mg | Iron: 1.4mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Breakfast
Cuisine American

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Classic Coffee Cake on a plate shown with a title and in a pan

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Comments

  1. This was seriously THE BEST CAKE EVER!! Oh myyyy I’ve never made a cake that fluffed up so well, light and moist!! Beautiful crumb. And the topping was just the right amount for me. It took exactly 25 minutes. Can’t wait to make this again for the rest of my family! Thank you for the recipe <35 stars

  2. This coffee cake is DELISH! Would easily give it a 10/10. My family said it was the best dessert they’ve ever had… will definitely make again!5 stars

  3. I used gluten free baking flour and almond milk and this still turned out fantastic! I also added 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves.
    Delish

  4. Fantastic! I made this for our Easter morning breakfast. We all loved it.
    I doubled the recipe with no problem. The only major change I made was to cut down
    on the sugar by using 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1/2 cup of maple syrup.
    I noted that some posters felt that the brown sugar topping was too dry. I added about 3 TB of butter and 1 TB of flour to the brown sugar topping, using a pastry cutter to cut in into coarse crumbs. After putting half the batter in the pan, I sprinkled half the topping onto it, then covered with the rest of the batter, sprinkling the remaining topping on it.
    I baked it for about 30 minutes uncovered, then covered with foil the remainder of the time, which was about 15 more minutes. Great recipe, thanks!5 stars

  5. Awesome cake and so easy to make.
    However the cinnamon topping was dry and too much cinnamon.
    I would switch it next time with a crumb cake topping.

  6. Super easy and very delicious. I left out the walnuts (didn’t have any). I may try cutting in a teaspoon of butter into the topping before baking as the cinnamon and brown sugar was loose on top of the cake. (I did cut it into the cake base before baking as recipe instructed) It’s still very delicious as the original recipe.
    A wonderful comfort food to be shared with a cup of tea or coffee is splendid!5 stars

  7. I made the recipe this morning. It was awesome! I love that it’s an 8×8 pan, so I’m not tempted to eat more than I should.

    What a great way to start the day with everyone staying home :)5 stars

  8. The cake itself is absolutely lovely. The topping is problematic. Putting nuts, naked, on top of the batter, results in burned nuts. Even without the nuts, it’s still problematic, because the cinnamon does not integrate well with the brown sugar, so you’re really getting a shot of straight cinnamon just laying on top of the cake.

    I love the simplicity – and lovely texture and taste – of the cake, so I’ll work on figuring out something else to do for the topping. Thanks!4 stars

  9. I made the recipe today and it turned out AMAZING! I suggest adding 1 or 2 drops of milk to the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture to give it some moisture before going into the oven. I wrote this recipe down and plan to use it many times again!5 stars

  10. This recipe reminds me of my grandmother’s go to cake recipe from the Depression era. When you top with cinnamon and brown sugar it’s coffee cake. She used to top her cakes with cling peach slices or canned pineapple. This is an easy recipe to make. Cake is very moist and my husband loved it. It’s snowing here and coffee cake hits the spot! Thank you for sharing this recipe.5 stars

  11. Very Moist! Too much sugar. I reduced the sugar in the cake batter to 2/3 cup and left off the glaze because I do not like sickening sweet coffee cake.4 stars

  12. Made it. Used Stevia in the batter and pretty much everything else was as the recipe said. I pulverized the walnuts in my ninja smoothie ma home to mix in with the topping. It all turned out delicious.

  13. I had a question do you fill the pans up to the top or halfway? or 3/4 of the way for this recipe? I am going to make these as mini loafs for my neighbors so just wanted to know so I know how many batches I need to make. Thx!

  14. It sounds great. I am so eager to start baking However, I want to use just regular margarine instead of unsalted. Also, can I use regular salt instead of kosher? I don’t have those 2 ingredients. Should I adjust anything if I substitute with what I have on hand? Thank you for your recipe. Suzanne

    1. If your margarine is salted, you can likely skip the salt. Kosher salt has larger flakes so you would need to use a bit less regular salt to substitute for kosher salt.

  15. I made the recipe with the steps as directed. However, I cannot eat gluten, chicken eggs or cow dairy products due to allergies. Therefore, I substituted the milk for goat milk, the egg for a duck egg, and the flour with a gluten-free variety. I happened to have coconut sugar so I used that instead of regular sugar. I know what you are thinking…”he didn’t even make the recipe as stated!” Yes, I agree, and I hate reviews from people who change the recipe and then rate it either great or terrible. Therefore, I won’t rate it but I’ll just let you know that everyone who ate it really liked it :-) It was also very easy to prepare and I will make it again (this time I will use regular sugar!

  16. So E-Z, & it sounds moist & delicious. I always have these ingredients on hand, so I appreciate a recipe which I can whip up at a moment’s notice. There’s (still) nothing more comforting than a good old fashioned Coffee Cake, with a nice cup of coffee. Thanks for the recipe :-)5 stars

    1. Thanks Angelina! This cake is perfect for that – delicious slice of cake with a hot cup of joe!

  17. Back in the 1950s my mom made a recipe almost identical to this and called it “Busy Day Cake”. I believe she used an icing made with brown sugar and coconut. Best cake ever, and I typically didn’t like white cake, as a child!5 stars

    1. That’s awesome Connie! Thanks for sharing, we love hearing the memories our recipes bring back!

      1. Is the bake time correct in the recipe? I’m using foil pans because they are gifts and at 30 minutes, the center is still raw and jiggly. Having to bake for close to 45 minutes to get a clean toothpick.

      2. Foil pans do not conduct heat in the same way that metal or glass pans do, so it may take longer to bake. How kind for you to make as gifts!