A soft, tender, easy-to-make coffee cake, heavy on the crumbs!
Because the crumb part… is the best part.
If you’re anything like me, you pick off the crumb topping from your coffee cake. Or you take the piece with the most crumb topping on it. If I could make a meal out of crumb topping… believe me, I would.
This is a cinnamon, sugary, buttery crumb-topped coffee cake. Heavy on the crumb.
Today’s coffee cake is an easy-to-follow recipe. This homemade version of the classic is a far cry from any of those overly-sweet, fake-tasting store bought versions you may be used to. It’s buttery, moist, soft, and pairs well with a morning cup of coffee. Let’s face it, this coffee cake will pair well with an afternoon cup o’ joe too. Actually, the coffee is optional. You’ll love this cake no matter what you’re drinking with it.
I got the recipe from my favorite cookbook. The bible of baking, I like to call it. A 1,000+ page book of kitchen-tested recipes, tutorials, and baking tips. My Cooks Illustrated The New Best Recipe – trust me, you need this cookbook. They are the culinary geniuses behind my Death by Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies.
The cookbook doesn’t call this cake “super-crumb.” I do. I baked the crumb cake in a smaller pan than what the recipe states, making the crumb layer in my version thicker for each piece. Kevin had a slice and asked if there was more crumb topping leftover. Even the “super crumb” wasn’t enough for him. I knew I was marrying this man for a reason. 😉
What makes this coffee cake so easy is that the crumb-topping and cake batter all start in the same bowl. The crumb topping’s ingredients (butter, flour, & sugar) is essentially the cake’s ingredients without any liquid. A recipe deriving both cake and crumb topping from the same mixture was a selling point for me.
Simply combine your flour, sugar, salt, and cut in the butter. I used a whisk to cut the butter in and a large fork to mix everything around until the mixture resembled course crumbs. Set aside 1 cup of the crumb mixture and continue with the rest of the cake batter ingredients.
The cup you set aside is your crumb topping. How easy is that?
The recipe calls for buttermilk. There are no substitutions for buttermilk here. I tried. Since I no longer work in the office, I had the spare minute to test this recipe a couple of times. Buttermilk is one of the culprits for how moist the cake’s crumb is. Trust me, you can’t leave it out! It’s required for this recipe – the lactic acid present is what will allow the baking soda to react and leaven the cake. If you buy a carton of buttermilk, you can use the extra in my Triple Chocolate Layer Cake.
You can always make your own buttermilk at home using regular milk + lemon juice. Here’s how I’ve done it before: Measure 2 teaspoons of white vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup. Then, add enough milk (1%, 2%, or whole) to the same measuring cup until it reaches 3/4 cup. Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in your recipe.
Another requirement? Room temperature egg. Don’t worry, I have a shortcut for that too: Place the egg in a bowl of warm/hot water for 5-10 minutes as you get your other ingredients ready. Easy!
The original recipe called for nuts, but I chose to leave them out. I increased the vanilla extract used and the brown sugar used as well. I also increased the cinnamon, as per the usual. Love cinnamon.
This cake is a wonderful option to make ahead the night before brunch or even a holiday breakfast, like Mother’s Day coming soon. If busy mornings are the norm in your house, make this coffee cake ahead of time. That’s exactly what I did. I made it on Saturday morning and on Sunday, it still tasted incredibly fresh. The crumbs were piled high, the cake hidden underneath was moist and tender, and the taste? Oh so cinnamon-buttery.
In some bites, the crumb layer was thicker than the cake layer! Amazing.
Old-fashioned crumb coffeecake at its finest, my friends.
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1See note in the post about buttermilk substitution.
2See note in the post about bring egg to room temperature quickly.
3Don't have a springform pan? Use a 9x9x2 (not 8-inch) square baking dish.
Update: Crumbs are likely to sink to the bottom of the cake is your butter is not firm enough, therefore making a crumb too soft to stay put on top. You can try using frozen butter and cutting that into the mixture with your pastry blender.
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated The New Best Recipe
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You won’t mind waking up to a few of my similar recipes for breakfast!
After one bite of this coffee cake, breakfast will seem like a real treat.