No, Coffee Cake Doesn't Have Coffee in It. (Or Does It?)

No, Coffee Cake Doesn't Have Coffee in It. (Or Does It?)

Jake Bonneman
5 minute read

Does coffee cake have coffee in it?

There's nothing like a good cup of coffee and a slice of cake to start the day. (By cake I mean
coffee cake, of course.)

But what exactly is coffee cake.  

And… does it even have coffee in it?


Does Coffee Cake Have Coffee in It? 

I won’t keep you in suspense. Contrary to its name, coffee cake doesn't actually contain any coffee—usually. 

It's a type of cake that's typically served with coffee. Anyone who's ever dunked a coffee cake in their morning cup of joe knows that the two were meant to be together. Destined, really.

Coffee cakes are usually made with a streusel or crumb topping, and often have a moist, dense texture. They can be flavored with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.  

They’re relatively easy to make at home, too. All you need are a few pantry staples and some basic baking skills. So next time you're in the mood for something sweet, why not try your hand at making a real coffee cake? Scroll down for a recipe.


Why Is it Called Coffee Cake?

Early versions of the cake did use coffee as an ingredient, but over time the recipe was modified to just use water or milk instead (for some reason). The resulting cake is light and fluffy, with a subtle sweetness that pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee. Some pastries that are too sweet can make even sweetened coffee taste bitter by comparison—not so with the humble coffee cake.

Today, there are countless variations on the classic coffee cake recipe, from simple cinnamon-filled cakes to more elaborate versions with nuts, fruits, and cream cheese.

No matter what ingredients are used, one thing remains constant: coffee cake is best enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee. But we're about to put a spin on things, shake things up, turn some other things on their head, and change the future of cakedom forever.


How To Make Coffee Cake

Coffee cake is the perfect example of how a few simple ingredients can come together to create something magical. All you need is some flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and milk or sour cream, and you're well on your way to coffee cake perfection.  

And with coffee cake, there's no need to frost or glaze—the buttery streusel topping is all you need 

You basically just mix together all the cake ingredients, top with the streusel crumbs, and bake.

Coffee cakes are budget-friendly, use ingredients you probably have, and are great for making ahead. There’s just one thing missing:


So what are we waiting for? Let's make our own coffee cake, with—wait for it—coffee.



The Cake:

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter (softened at room temperature)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup white granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅔ cup your favorite strong brewed coffee


The Crumb Topping:

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (4 tbsp) melted butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp finely ground coffee grounds
  • ¼ tsp salt


The Directions: 

  1. First, let's make the crumb topping. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, coffee grounds, cinnamon, and salt. Add the melted butter, and mix until crumbs form. Now set this aside, and try not to eat any of it.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray and line a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with parchment paper (spraying both the pan and the parchment paper).
  3. For the cake: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
  4. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the brewed coffee and sour cream until smooth.
  5. Using an electric mixer and a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs, mixing until each is well folded into the mixture. Next, add the vanilla extract and beat everything until the mixture is uniformly light and fluffy.
  6. Starting and ending with the dry ingredients, alternate adding the flour mixture and the coffee/sour cream mixture to the butter-sugar mixture, making sure to mix well each time.
  7. Pour the final batter into your prepared baking pan and top it evenly with the crumb topping you set aside. Bake it in the oven at 350F for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick or paring knife comes out clean.  
  8. Carefully take the coffee cake out of the oven, and let it cool for at least 20 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Well, there you have it, friends. A modern coffee cake recipe that actually has coffee in it, for once. Long overdue, I’d say. 

This rich and flavorful cake is perfect for any coffee lover, and is sure to be a hit at your next party or gathering.

Now what are you waiting for? Get baking!


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