Sour Cream Coffee Cake

two slices of sour cream coffee stacked on a grey plate with a fork
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Moist and tender, and ribboned through with a coconut-pecan crumb topping, this sour cream coffee cake is easy, delicious and—bonus!—can easily be made gluten free.  

It’s Called Coffee Cake—That Means We Can Eat It for Breakfast, Right?

Yeah, basically! Coffee cakes come in all shapes and sizes, but for us, classic coffee cake has to have a moist, tender crumb and lots of buttery, crumbly, streusel topping. We fell in love with coffee cake over many long, lingering coffee shop dates but we perfected it right in our own test kitchen. We start with a classic sour cream coffee cake recipe, but we’ve mixed things up a little with the streusel topping! Veering from the traditional simple cinnamon streusel, we flavor our crumb topping (and filling) with toasted coconut flakes and nuts for crunch and a hint of fruity sweetness. 

a fork cutting into a piece of sour cream coffee cake on a grey plate

Classic Coffee Cake Ingredients—Plus a Few Surprises

Sweet, buttery, fluffy and unbelievably moist—this cake is everything you’re hungry for when you crave coffee cake, and then some. We’ve snuck a few extra nuggets of deliciousness into the streusel topping that make our coffee cake recipe stand out from the crowd. Here’s what you’ll need to make it: 

  • All-purpose flour, or you can substitute your favorite 1:1 gluten free all-purpose flour. We tested the recipe with regular flour, and this brand of GF flour.  
  • Baking soda and baking powder (yep, both!)
  • Sour cream. 
  • Butter—always bake with unsalted butter.  
  • Eggs.  
  • Sugar.  
  • Brown sugar. 
  • Coconut.
  • Pecans or walnuts. 

homemade coffee cake in a square pan

Go Gluten Free (Or Not!)

With the abundance of gluten free all-purpose flour blends that can be found now—most of which can be swapped in cup-for-cup for regular all-purpose flour—it’s never been easier to bake gluten-free treats for our friends and family. A huge part of hospitality—something we’re passionate about—is inclusivity, and so we tested this recipe with both regular flour and gluten free flour, and it works beautifully both ways! Baking for a crowd, and not sure if everyone can have gluten? Why not just go ahead and make a gluten free coffee cake! Simply swap in a gluten free flour—we tested this coffee cake recipe using this brand—anywhere the recipe calls for regular all-purpose flour.  

slice of homemade coffee cake on a grey plate with a piece cut out

Temperature is Key to Making the Very Best Sour Cream Coffee Cake. 

Actually, temperatures—plural! Baking is an art, but it’s also very much a science. Having your ingredients at the right temperature helps to ensure success and consistency. Because of that, although this is certainly an easy coffee cake recipe, it also requires a little bit of planning. Here’s what you need to know before you start: 

  1. The eggs and butter that will go into the coffee cake batter need to be at room temperature
  2. The butter you’ll use to make the crumb topping will be easier to work with—you’ll be grating it with a box grater—if you freeze it first. 

How to Make Coffee Cake

You’ve gathered your ingredients, and everything is at the right temperature. Now it’s time to make the cake! 

  1. Start with the crumb topping, which you’ll also use as a filling. It can be held in the fridge while you make the coffee cake batter. Grate that frozen butter into the other streusel topping ingredients, and just give it a quick toss to mix—using grated butter is an easy way to ensure the butter is evenly distributed without worrying about over-mixing. 
  2. To ensure a tender, dense crumb, sift the dry ingredients before mixing them with the wet. 
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar. 
  4. Mix! But take it slow. With the mixer on low, add about a third of the sour cream and a third of the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture. Mix to combine, then add the remaining sour cream and dry ingredients. 
  5. Pour half of the batter into your prepped baking pan, and top it with half of the streusel mixture. 
  6. Top with more batter, and more streusel topping. 
  7. Bake! 
  8. Tuck in! If you can, wait at least 30 minutes before cutting into the cake. Tough, we know! 
two slices of coffee cake stacked topped with streusel toppings

Tools You’ll Need: 

Have Your Cake and Call it Breakfast. 

We’d just like to extend our heartfelt thanks to whoever decided that it’s OK to eat dessert for breakfast. Here are a few of our favorite sweet and brunch-y pastry recipes: 

French Press? Cold Brew? No Thanks. Make Our Coffee the Coffee CAKE Kind, Please. 

Let us know how this easy coffee cake recipe worked out for you! Did you make a gluten-free version? Snap a photo of your coconut coffee cake and maybe even a video of the beautiful people you feed it to and then tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Serves 12

Ingredients

2 cups white flour or gluten free flour blend
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup softened unsalted butter
2 eggs at room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 cup sour cream

Crumb Topping

1/4 cup all purpose flour, or gluten free flour blend
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1 cup toasted and chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup very cold unsalted butter

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Begin by making the crumb topping. Combine the flour sugar, coconut, pecans and salt in a bowl. Using a cheese grater grate butter into the dry mix.** toss with a fork until butter and dry ingredients are evenly mixed. The crumble will appear to be dry, this method ensures an even middle ribbon of goodness and topping. Store the crumble in the refrigerator while preparing your batter.
  3. For the cake batter sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium sized bowl and set aside. In a stand mixer, or by hand, whisk the softened butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar slowly, followed by the eggs one at a time fully incorporating with each addition.
  4. Add ⅓ of the sifted dry ingredients and ⅓ cup of the sour cream to the bowl of the stand mixer. Beat until they’re fully incorporated, then add the remaining sour cream and dry ingredients. Beat on high for about three minutes.
  5. In a well-greased or parchment lined 9x9 baking dish add half of the batter followed by half of the crumble. Add the remaining batter and crumb topping. Bake for 45 min to an hour in a preheated. Check for doneness with a toothpick, which should come out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before serving.

**If you freeze your butter before grating, it makes this task much easier.