coffee cake recipe classic coffee cake recipe easy coffee cake recipe
Image courtesy of Jeremy Scheck

Classic Bakery Coffee Cake Recipe

Light, tender and incredibly comforting.

I worked at a local bakery called Sweet Teensy Bakery throughout high school, and this coffee cake was one of my favorite things we made there. The bakery no longer exists in its original capacity, but Angela Winter, who was the head baker, taught me this recipe.

This coffee cake proves that less really can be more. I often think the key to making perfect desserts is to try to “optimize” every ingredient — Greek yogurt can make something lighter and fluffier than milk or a bit of lemon zest usually helps make things pop. However, after numerous tests for this coffee cake, I can say with some authority that those kinds of enhancements do not improve this particular recipe. This cake is impossibly light and tender even without sour cream or yogurt. And much to my surprise, the lemon zest really threw off the flavor profile and made it taste like something different entirely.

All that said, I do like to suggest twists. While I strongly recommend you try the recipe as written, you could use it as a base for a cake called “boy bait,” which is coffee cake with lemon and blueberries. If you’d like to try that variation, add the zest of 2 lemons and 1 to 2 cups of blueberries.

Since I had made this recipe dozens and dozens of times at the bakery, I thought it would be one of the easier recipes to test for this book . . . but alas, this was not the case. At the bakery, we would make batches four to eight times the size of the version here. The coffee cake was made in giant pans, and the commercial ovens were really different from a typical home oven, so the temperature was also not exactly comparable. After I adjusted the proportions to work in a home kitchen, this recipe still needed some tweaks to get the right texture — simply dividing it by four did not work. Additionally, I wanted to make every baking recipe in this book possible without an electric mixer, so with further testing I adapted it to be made with a whisk.

From “SCHECKEATS – COOKING SMARTER” by Jeremy Scheck. Copyright © 2023 by Jeremy Scheck. Reprinted by permission of Harvest, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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classic coffee cake recipe

Classic Bakery Coffee Cake

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 5 reviews

Light, tender and incredibly comforting.

  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 12-16

Ingredients

Units

For the cake batter:

  • 4 Tbsp (½ stick/57 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 ½ cups (180 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup whole milk

For the topping:

  • cup (45 g) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup (160 g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp (½ stick/57 g) cold unsalted butter, diced

Instructions

  1.  Prep the pan: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch metal cake pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper (for easy release) and spray with cooking spray. 
  2. Make the cake batter: In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar and use a wooden spoon to smash the butter and break it up into the sugar. Without a mixer, it is difficult to properly cream the mixture until you add in the egg, and that’s OK!
  3. Add the egg, then whisk vigorously until the mixture is completely smooth, 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix gently, stopping before the flour is completely incorporated. Add the vanilla and then slowly add in the milk while whisking. Whisk just enough to incorporate the milk.
  5. Make the topping: Combine the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. With your hands, work in the cold butter until the mixture has a homogeneous crumbly texture.
  6. Pour two-thirds of the batter into the prepared pan. Spread half the topping over the batter (try to distribute it evenly). Add the remaining batter and top with the rest of the topping.
  7. Bake for 38-42 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before serving.
  • Author: Jeremy Scheck
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Ashkenazi

16 comments

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Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

  • Sheila

    Is there a way to make this coffee cake parve without using almond milk or soy milk that will not change the flavour?

  • Pat

    Why metal pan? Only have 8×8 pyrex. Will use electric hand mixer, no whisk. Will use 2% milk, no whole milk.

  • Mom

    Does it make a difference if I use an aluminum foil pan or a square glass Pyrex cake dish?

  • Susan Witkowski

    This cake is amazingly delicious. My 19yr old son ate the whole cake in a single day.

    Word to the wise — the recipe toggle for 1x/ 2x/ 3x doesn’t work correctly. Some ingredients aren’t increased. So do your own math to increase the amount.






    • The Nosher

      We are so glad to hear it, Susan. Thanks for alerting us to the scaling up issue; it’s now fixed!

    • Susan Witkowski

      Just wanted to update to say thanks for fixing the scaling toggle. I’ve made this recipe about fifty-eleven times in the last six months. Aside from Pesach, I think not a week has gone by that I haven’t made it. I’ve started adding in chopped pecans to the topping, with a sprinkle of coarse salt on the very top of the cake before putting it in the oven. OMG.






    • The Nosher

      That made our day! So glad you’re enjoying it.

    • stu

      I thought that 12-16 servings was imaginative. stu b.

  • Lani Ventura

    Wonderful.!!!! Biggest Thank You 🙏🏽 Mahalo From Mau’I Hawai’I..🌿🌺🤙🏼






  • Janis

    Have not made but would like to make larger size. What measurements would work for 9 x 13 pan?
    Thanks

    • The Nosher

      Hi Janis, this is our go-to guide for baking measurements. Note that baking times may be affected when you make a recipe larger or smaller, so pay extra attention when the cake is in the oven. Enjoy!

  • John Levy

    Has anyone tried a gluten free version? My wife loves crumb cake but is now gluten intolerant.






    • The Nosher

      Hi Cookie, this will lead to a change in texture as the recipe was developed to be made with whole milk. If you do try it, please let us know how it turns out.

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