Sour Cream Coffee Cake

sour-cream-coffee-cake Sour cream coffee cake. The breakfast of champions.

Seriously. I have vivid memories of my mom making this growing up. She would typically bake this coffee cake the night before…on a Friday or Saturday night, filling our house with the overwhelming good that it is cinnamon baking in a thick batter, and then insist we wait until the next morning to do anything with it.

I would hear my parents shuffling around downstairs at approximately the crack of dawn the next morning and like any good kid, stuff my pillow over my head to drown out the sleep-slaying whir of their coffee grinder, and go on to predictably sleep another two hours.

When I’d finally and legitimately open my eyes, awakened by a gnawing hunger, I would remember…cofffee cake!…and I’d run downstairs only to discover that at least half of it had already been consumed by my early-bird-gets-the-pastry parents and siblings.

And in a matter of precious few hours, the coffee cake would be gone…save for a few crumbs clinging to the plate until some desperate family member would come by to find and eat even those. In those days as now, you had to be strategic about goodies like coffee cake with my family…we’re grazers in every sense of the word, and if you weren’t paying attention, you may only get one piece of something before the others got to it. This is where I come from.

And that’s why when I made this coffee cake a few weeks ago, I made it to share. Were I to make this for only Eric and I, he would have his sensible piece or two in the morning, and I would continue to single-handedly polish it off throughout the day. progression So I made it the day before we headed up to a cabin with some friends, but still definitely got more than my fair share. This coffee cake is so simple and so good. The addition of sour cream not only makes it incredibly moist but also prevents it from being overly sweet…enabling you to eat five pieces before you realize it. I like to double the filling of cinnamon, pecans, and brown sugar so that each bite gets a little bit of that action. It comes together pretty quickly with a simple list of ingredients, and only needs an hour to bake. You can most certainly make this the night before an early special breakfast if need be (the sour cream keeps it from drying out). And please, please have a cup of coffee with this…it’s coffee cake, people. And until I was about twenty years old and tried this winning combination, I hadn’t really lived.


Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

(recipe from my mom)

(yields 1 coffee cake (about 12 pieces)

This recipe is a classic from my childhood. You can make this the night before and keep it covered for a super moist, sweet-but-not-overly-sweet, special breakfast the next day.


1 c. butter, softened

2 c. sugar

2 eggs

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 c. sour cream

2 c. flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

Filling (doubled):

1 c. chopped pecans

8 tsp. brown sugar

3 tsp. cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350*.


LIBERALLY spray/grease bundt pan. I spray mine with Pam cooking spray and then use a small paper towel piece to wipe the spray into every nook and cranny of the pan. Twice. Don't be shy about greasing this down, or you will regret it!


For the filling: Mix together the pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl, and set aside.


In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar. Add and beat in the eggs and vanilla. FOLD* in the sour cream.


Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into the mixing bowl. (I put the salt and baking powder at the bottom of the sifter and flour on top to make sure they go through).


FOLD in the sifted flour, salt, and baking powder.


Spread a little less than 1/3 of the batter into the bottom of the bundt pan (a rubber spatula works great for this). Sprinkle half of the filling over that.

Then spread another 1/3 of the batter on top of the 2 layers you already have. (This can be tricky...some of the filling mixture will mix into the batter...that's okay. Just try to spread an even amount of the batter all around the bundt pan.)

Cover this layer of batter by sprinkling the rest of the filling mixture over it.

Spread the final 1/3 of your batter over the top. Do your best to smooth the batter around evenly.


(I then wipe off any rogue batter on top or center of the bundt pan with a paper towel so it won't burn).


Bake 55-60 minutes or until golden on top. Let the cake cool ENTIRELY before removing it. To remove, use a butter knife to loosen the edges of the cake from the pan, and then carefully turn it out onto a plate.


Store covered on the counter for about 24 hours. After that, refrigerate it.


*To fold something in, take a rubber spatula (or flattish spoon) and methodically turn what's on the bottom of the bowl onto the top. Do this until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

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10 thoughts on “Sour Cream Coffee Cake

    • Okay.. I’ve never tried that, so what I’m sharing here is from some reading I’ve done online and what I assume from a few years of cooking.

      The overall summary of what I’ve read is no…you don’t want to substitue oil for butter. It will make a denser cake and will affect the flavor.
      BUT if you do want to try it, here are some suggestions:
      For 1 c. of butter, trying substituting slightly less oil (like 3/4 or 7/8 c.)
      Another suggestion was to use a “light” olive oil instead of vegetable oil and you might want to add a little more sugar to keep the taste more true.
      If you’re trying to make the recipe healthier, you could try the oil or maybe a light sour cream…but if healthiness isn’t the concern, you could also try substituting the butter for solid vegetable shortening.

      Here are links to the 2 main pages that were most helpful:

      Hope that helps! Feel free to ask any follow up questions!

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  2. This coffee cake has become a staple treat in my kitchen over the past couple years. This year, there is a fall baking contest in my husbands office, but you have to use either apple or pumpkin. So, after much thought, I used this recipe and used 3/4 cup pumpkin puree, 1/4 cup sour cream. Oh my word! Heavenly! I also added a small amount of ginger and nutmeg to the brown sugar cinnamon mixture, to make this treat more of a pumpkin spice coffee cake.

    • Brilliant! This summer I almost did the same thing with peach but was scared to mess with a classic. Your version sounds fabulous! (and I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that a staple of mine growing up has become a favorite for another family – hooray!)

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