This is my FAVORITE recipe for Sour Cream Coffee Cake! My main complaint with Coffee Cake is that there is usually too much cake, not enough streusel. This recipe gives you the max amount of streusel without ruining the light fluffiness of the cake! A vanilla drizzle finishes it off for the perfect cake-for-breakfast situation. Originally posted October 12, 2019.

slice of sour cream coffee cake drizzled with vanilla icing

Sour Cream Streusel Homemade Coffee Cake

Happy birthday to meeee! It’s not actually my birthday, it’s The Food Charlatan’s birthday! Eight years ago I published my first recipe here on this little blog. I called it “The Food Charlatan” because I didn’t know how to cook really at all.

Now here we are 8 years later and I’ve conned you all into thinking that I know what I’m doing. Mwahahaha! Don’t get me wrong, I am much more comfortable in the kitchen than I was 8 years ago, and I never publish a recipe on this blog that I don’t have complete confidence in. (You can trust today’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake, for example. It’s legiiiiit.)

Close up of slice of cinnamon streusel Coffee Cake

But I still have a lot to learn! It’s so fun sharing my food journey with all of you guys. Seriously, I’m so glad you’re here! Blogging would be boring without you!

To celebrate 8 years blogging, I thought I would share a random sample of emails/comments that I get from readers on a regular basis. These are the fun ones. Reader comments are in italics.

A Day in the Inbox of a Food Blogger

Dear Karen,

I’m sure your a good person, with a kind heart, are you aware that a charlatan is in essence a con man, a ripoff and other unfriendly things?

(You would not believe how many people inform me about my own blog name. I think it’s hilarious.)

Some people are so kind:

Do you have your own cookbook for sale?  I would certainly buy it.

I don’t have a cookbook yet, but I hope I will someday! They are a ton of work and I don’t want to miss my kids growing up. Someday when they are older I’ll do it. Don’t worry, I’ll let you know if I write a cookbook. Probably you will be sick of hearing about it by the time I’m through!

Streusel Coffee Cake Recipe baked in a 9x13 inch pan with diagonal drizzles of vanilla icing

I tried to use your website, but it’s just so busy, with so many videos and ads loading constantly I just could not.

Ah, the frustration with ads. I get it, they are annoying. It makes me sad that some people think all I care about is the bottom line. One guy even told me once that he was sure I was only making a few cents on those ads, so I should take them off.

I make a full time income from this blog. It feeds my family. It’s also a butt-ton of work. I’m providing well-researched recipes to serve my readers. You don’t have to pay to access these recipes (remember when you had to, like, PAY to buy cookbooks??), but you do have to put up with the ads so that I can keep the content coming!

Streusel Coffee Cake slice being lifted on a spatula from pan

More really nice people:

You sound like a lovely lady of faith and that is a big draw for me. I’m a grandma of deep faith and I love that young ladies are not ashamed to announce that they are as well.

I get emails about my religion on a regular basis, and I love it! I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I believe that Jesus is my Savior and that we have a living prophet on the earth today. It’s awesome. If you have any questions, I’d love to talk to you about it. Message me on Instagram!

Funny comments on particular recipes:

These Homemade Pretzel Hot Dogs  from The Food Charlatan take me back to my mall-rat days, when I’d blow my allowance on the sales racks at Contempo Casuals and 5-7-9. (Coincidentally, treats like these are also detrimental to me returning to the 5, 7, OR 9.)

Slice of best Coffee Cake on a fork

About this Cheesy Overnight Bacon and Egg Breakfast Casserole): I picked your recipe because your name made me laugh!

(I love you! I love you!)

A comment in response to Soft and Sticky Caramel Pecan Rolls, where I announced that I was pregnant and explained that morning sickness kept me from posting new recipes for several months. (Apparently some people thought they were having computer issues):

I’m so happy for you and your family Karen!  And most thankful you are no longer having the horrors of morning..noon…and night sickness!  I, too, was one of those ignorant folk that could not figure out why I was no longer getting your posts…giving hubby a bad rap (thought he deleted some of my “good stuff”) I will apologize to him when I finish here.)

Homemade Coffee Cake Recipe showing one slice on a plate

About my Brown Sugar Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting:

Dear Karen,
I still love you, but if I were to eat that cake with all those carbs, I might die in a week.

I feel you. Sometimes death by cake is worth it though.

Probably my favorite email of all time though was when someone told me that my blog posts were too long. I needed to shorten them up and stop telling dumb stories about my kids because there’s not enough space “on the cloud” for all this content. I swear. I died laughing!

For every annoyed person who messages to inform me that they don’t care about my stories/my kids/”just give me the recipes already,” I get three messages like this:

I have been receiving your emails/blog for a while now and I just wanted to contact you and tell you how much I enjoy it!  I love your recipes (I’ve made so, so many and always pass them on to friends), but I also love reading about you and your family!  Your blog makes me laugh and I find it so relatable!  I am also a stay at home Mom.  Your stories remind me of when my kids were younger, and always have me in stitches.  As soon as I see an email from you, I get so excited to read what’s been going on in your life – you’ve always got the best stories!  Your sense of humour is amazing and I think that’s what keeps Moms going – a great sense of humour!

close up of slice of Streusel Coffee Cake

Thank you, thank you, to all of you who support me in my storytelling. I get that sometimes you just want to get to the recipe, and that’s totally fine, that’s what scrolling is for. But telling stories is the real reason I’ve stuck with this blog for so long, and hearing from my real readers (not just those passing through) that they still want that content is such a motivator for me. Like you, if you got to the bottom of this, you’re a real reader :) Thanks for taking the time! I love you.

Here are links to all my anniversary (ish) posts, if you want to take a walk down memory lane!

(2011) The first blog post on The Food Charlatan: Pumpkin Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies
(2012) The Food Charlatan 1st Anniversary: Cake Mix Coffee Cake
(2013) The Food Charlatan 2nd Anniversary: Pumpkin Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip Cookies (I did a reshoot of my first recipe)
(2014) The Food Charlatan 3rd Anniversary: The Food Charlatan’s New Blog Design
(2015) The Food Charlatan 4th Anniversary: The Best Chocolate Cake I’ve Ever Had
(2016) The Food Charlatan 5th Anniversary: Death by Chocolate Bundt Cake
(2017) The Food Charlatan 6th Anniversary: Upside Down Almond Crunch Cupcakes
(2018) The Food Charlatan 7th Anniversary: Ginger Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake

Sour Cream Streusel Coffee Cake

You guys this Sour Cream Coffee Cake is INSANE. I love it so much! I worked on this recipe for a while and had quite a few failure cakes before I landed on this version. (See?? #charlatan)

Easy Coffee Cake Recipe, once slice with fork

Why is it called coffee cake?

Coffee cake has no coffee in it, it’s a basic yellow cake with layers of cinnamon sugar streusel meant to be enjoyed with a cup of coffee. Or with a glass of milk, if you’re like me!

I don’t want a yellow cake with some streusel on top. Basically I want some cake with my streusel, not the other way around. I mean, right? Am I the only one who is obsessed with crumbly streusel? It’s SO GOOD. I did the same thing for this Apple Crisp With a Ridiculous Amount of Streusel. It was a lot easier to increase the streusel on that recipe because apples don’t need to rise. It took me a few tries to get the right ratio of cake to streusel, so that the streusel stayed on top and didn’t just sink into a sad, dense cake.

But I finally got it! Here’s how this sour cream coffee cake is going down:

Homemade Coffee Cake Ingredients

The good news is that all the ingredients are pretty much kitchen staples, so as long as you have sour cream, you might be good to go without even a trip to the store.

For the streusel:

  • All purpose flour
  • Brown sugar
  • Granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt. If you’ll be using table salt in a recipe that calls for kosher salt, always remember to go easy. For this recipe, use ¾ teaspoon table salt in place of 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
  • Cinnamon
  • Butter

For the cake:

  • All purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Kosher salt. For this recipe, use 1/2 teaspoon of table salt in place of ¾ teaspoon kosher salt.
  • Butter.
  • Sour cream
  • Large eggs
  • Sour cream
  • Vanilla extract

For the icing:

  • Butter
  • Vanilla extract
  • Kosher salt
  • Milk
  • Powdered sugar

How to Make the Best Coffee Cake

Here are the basics, plus things to watch out for. Plus photos! All instructions are in the recipe below as well.

Mixing together the streusel
  1. First make your ridiculous amount of streusel. It’s got a full cup of butter in it. This is not an apology. It’s cake, you guys. Embrace it! Use melted butter. I tried a few versions with cold butter cut in with a pastry cutter, and trust me, for this recipe, melted butter works best to get the crumbliest streusel! Half of my streusel is drying out on a pan while I wait to add it to the top of the cake, more on that below.
  2. For the cake batter, make separate mixtures of dry and wet ingredients. (see photo below)
  3. Beat the dry ingredients into the butter, then add the wet ingredients in increments.
  4. Spread alternating layers of batter and streusel in the prepared cake pan, breaking up any too-large pieces with your hands. Do NOT add all the remaining streusel! You’ll be setting aside some streusel on a pan to dry out and add halfway through the bake time. See recipe.
  5. Bake it up. Don’t forget to add the remaining streusel halfway!
  6. Finally, drizzle the whole thing with buttery vanilla icing that takes 2 seconds to whip up.
bowl of dough with hook being scraped by spatula

(The photo on the left is after the butter is mixed into the dry ingredients. Photo on the right is the final batter. It’s okay if your finished batter has a few lumps in it, but overall it should be light and fluffy.)

What does sour cream do to cake?

Sour cream provides moisture and fat for your cake, two things you absolutely need to make sure your cake isn’t dry! We are using a full cup and a half of sour cream for this coffee cake! It makes for a very moist and slightly tangy cake.

Can you taste sour cream in cake?

The sour cream adds a delightful tang to your cake, but it’s not overwhelming. I add sour cream to literally every cake I make (yes, really). It provides incredible moisture without taking over the flavor of whatever kind of cake you are making. Trust me on this one, sour cream is an amazing ingredient in cake! A person who didn’t know it was an ingredient wouldn’t be able to tell.

What can replace sour cream in a cake recipe?

If you’re out of sour cream, feel free to swap it for buttermilk. But who are we kidding? No one who’s out of sour cream happens to have buttermilk on hand. So what I really mean is that you can replace the sour cream with a homemade buttermilk substitution. Add about 1 and 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar into your 1 and ½ cup measuring cup, and then fill to the top with whole milk. Stir and wait five minutes. Boom, you’re good to go!

BUT, disclaimer here, cheater buttermilk is not as rich and thick as real buttermilk, and it’s WAY less rich than sour cream. So your cake isn’t going to be quite as amazing if you cheat. Surprise surprise, right.

What is the difference between a crumb topping and a streusel?

Streusel is just another name for crumb topping and anyone who says otherwise is adding some super strict definitions to streusel, ha! Maybe it’s a regional thing. I read an article recently that said crumb topping is the “street name” for streusel, lol.

But for this coffee cake, the difference between a crumb topping and streusel is that we’re going to be lacing that streusel all throughout the cake. Not saving it just for the top! And not just one layer, oh no:

Streusel for days

We are adding 2 layers of streusel in between cake batter layers. This means you really do get streusel in every single bite, not just a layer in the middle and on top. I really should have just called this Streusel Cake.

Chunks of Streusel falling from measuring cup onto the dough of the coffee cake

Why does my streusel sink?

Your streusel is going to sink if you don’t have enough leavener in your cake (baking powder, etc). That’s no problem in this cake, it has plenty. The only other thing to worry about is your streusel just being too heavy, so we are adding it in layers.

You don’t want all of your streusel mixed into the cake batter. You want a nice crumbly topping and layers in between. So be sure to gently add the top layer of streusel and then put it directly into the oven without disturbing the pan much. We are also adding an EXTRA layer of streusel on top halfway through the bake time, to allow our cake to rise properly. GIMME ALL THE STREUSEL. If you add it all at the beginning it won’t rise well because of the weight of the streusel.

Can this Sour Cream Coffee Cake be made ahead?

The great thing about coffee cake is that it’s delicious right out of the oven but also saves well. To make this ahead, bake as directed. Make the frosting but don’t drizzle it yet. Once the cake has cooled, cover and store the cake and frosting separately. Both can be stored at room temperature.

And don’t forget to heat before you serve! (Fine, maybe you like cold coffee cake, but maybe you like eating dirt, too. I’m not responsible for that.) Put the whole cake in the oven on the warm setting (170 F) until the cake feels warm throughout, should take 20 minutes at least. Drizzle the room-temperature frosting over it.

To reheat, just zap individual portions in the microwave for 15-25 seconds.

Does Sour Cream Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake freeze well?

Yes please! A tasty treat for later! To freeze coffee cake, seal it very well. A lot of cake pans have a lid that isn’t a true seal. Consider wrapping the whole pan in plastic wrap or putting the cake by large slices into a ziplock freezer bag. To reheat, microwave works fine for individual portions or you can heat in an oven at a low temperature.

You are going to be everyone’s favorite person when you make this Sour Cream Coffee Cake! Seriously all this streusel is life changing. It would be perfect to make on Christmas morning! Or basically anytime you want to impress!

More cake for breakfast recipes you are going to love!

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Sour Cream Streusel Coffee Cake Recipe

This is my FAVORITE recipe for Sour Cream Coffee Cake! My main complaint with Coffee Cake is that there is usually too much cake, not enough streusel. This recipe gives you the max amount of streusel without ruining the light fluffiness of the cake! A vanilla drizzle finishes it off for the perfect cake-for-breakfast situation.

Ingredients

For the streusel

  • 3 cups all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter, 2 sticks, melted

For the cake

  • 2 & 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 & 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, 1 and 1/2 sticks, softened but still cool
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the icing

  • 1/4 cup butter, half stick, very soft
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup milk, more to taste
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 inch cake pan* with nonstick spray or rub with butter.  
  • Make the streusel: In a large bowl, whisk together 3 cup flour, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons cinnamon. 
  • Melt 1 cup butter in a small bowl in the microwave. Pour into the larger bowl and stir the butter into the flour. You should end up with a bowl of what looks like wet sand, with lots of big chunks. Don’t try to smooth it out. See photo. 
  • For the cake: In a large bowl or stand mixer, whisk together 2 and 1/4 cups flour, 1 and 1/4 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt.
  • Chop 3/4 cup softened butter into chunks. You want the butter to sit out of the fridge for several minutes to that it’s not rock-hard, but don’t let it soften so much that it’s completely creamy. 
  • Add the chopped butter and 1/2 cup sour cream to the flour mixture. Use the paddle attachment (or electic beaters) to blend the butter in. Eventually the butter will moisten the flour and it will all come together in a ball. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. Don’t over mix, just beat until all the butter is incorporated.
  • In another large bowl, whisk together 4 eggs, 1 cup sour cream, and 1 tablespoon vanilla. Beat well until the eggs are well blended.
  • Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture in 3 additions, beating for about 20 seconds after each one. Once all the egg mixture is added, beat for another 1 minute until the batter is light and fluffy.
  • Spread 2 cups of batter into the bottom of your prepared cake pan. Sprinkle 1 cup of streusel evenly over the top, breaking up any too-large pieces with your hands.
  • Spread another 2 cups batter on top and spread it around as best you can. 
  • Add another 1 cup streusel on top.
  • Add the rest of the batter and spread evenly.
  • Evenly spread another 2 cups of streusel on top of the cake. Do NOT add all the remaining streusel! There will be some left over. Spread the remaining streusel on a baking sheet to dry out a little bit.
  • Bake the cake at 350 for 25 minutes. 
  • Do this next part fast. Remove the cake from the oven and shut the oven door. Use your hands to sprinkle all the remaining streusel on top of the cake, focusing on any areas where the cake batter has puffed up from the center. Move quickly! Get the cake back in the oven as soon as you can, and keep the oven door shut as much as possible. 
  • Bake for another 20-25 minutes.* The total bake time for the cake should be about 45-50 minutes, depending on your oven and whether you use a glass or metal pan. Test the cake with a toothpick. It is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with no wet batter on it. The cake should not wobble around at all when you shake the pan. 
  • Let the cake cool on a wire rack for at least 15-20 minutes for cutting into it.
  • Make the icing: In a medium bowl, beat 1/4 cup butter until smooth. (I actually did it by hand with a whisk. You can do this if your butter is ultra soft.)
  • Add 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup milk, and 2 cups powdered sugar. Beat with a mixer or by hand until very smooth. 
  • Drizzle the icing over the cake. You can either drizzle it over the whole cake or drizzle each individual serving. I like to drizzle about half the icing over the whole cake, and then save the rest of drizzling over each serving.
  • The cake is best served warm! Zap individual servings in the microwave for 10-20 seconds if you are serving after the cake has cooled. 
  • This cake will keep well covered on the counter for 2-3 days. After that, put it in the fridge. 

Notes

*I baked my coffee cake in a glass pan. If you use a metal pan, the bake time WILL be shorter. Start testing with a toothpick a few minutes earlier than suggested. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1 slice, Calories: 553 kcal, Carbohydrates: 68 g, Protein: 6 g, Fat: 29 g, Saturated Fat: 18 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8 g, Trans Fat: 1 g, Cholesterol: 114 mg, Sodium: 700 mg, Potassium: 126 mg, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 35 g, Vitamin A: 912 IU, Vitamin C: 1 mg, Calcium: 113 mg, Iron: 2 mg