Old Fashioned Breakfast Cake
Coffee cake is one of my favorite types of cakes to make and eat! This cinnamon walnut coffee cake recipe puts a fun twist on the classic cake. The cinnamon walnut filling and sweet glaze drizzled on top give it an incredible cinnamon roll-like flavor.
This recipe is both super simple and unbelievably delicious. Whether you want something sweet to enjoy with your morning coffee, or a light dessert, this old fashioned coffee cake is perfect!
This recipe starts with an insanely moist and fluffy cake that’s filled with a sweet cinnamon filling and loaded with chopped walnuts. It’s then topped with a spiced streusel topping and smothered in a powdered sugar glaze.
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What Is Coffee Cake?
Despite the name, traditional coffee cake does not actually contain any coffee. This breakfast staple is a lightly sweetened single-layer cake commonly topped with a sweet streusel topping made from flour, butter, and sugar. This cake is often spiced or filled with a variety of fruit, nuts, or even chocolate.
So, why is it called coffee cake if it doesn’t have any coffee in it? This classic breakfast cake got its name because it’s meant to be enjoyed alongside coffee or tea in the morning. Not only is this the perfect dish for your next breakfast or brunch party, but it also makes a great dessert or afternoon snack!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Let's be honest, there are a ton of coffee cake recipes out there. That being said, this old fashioned cinnamon walnut coffee cake is definitely the best I’ve ever had. Here are some great things about this recipe that will have you as obsessed as I am!
- The batter is made with 9 simple ingredients (most of them you probably have on hand)
- The filling and topping are easy to prep in minutes with a food processor
- It uses toasted walnuts for an extra warm, nutty flavor
- The 3-ingredient glaze adds additional sweetness
- It’s cake for breakfast (you can't beat that!)
Butter: Either salted or unsalted butter can be used in this recipe. If you use unsalted, add an extra pinch of salt to your cake batter, filling, and topping.
Granulated sugar: Granulated sugar is this cake's main source of sweetness. It adds moisture and softness to the cake.
Pure vanilla extract: Vanilla adds great flavor to the cake and the glaze. You can easily swap out the vanilla for another flavor if desired.
Egg: The egg provides structure and assists with leavening. It also contributes additional flavor and color to the cake.
Sour cream: Sour cream makes this cake moist and adds a tanginess that pairs well with the sweet cinnamon and nutty flavors.
All-purpose flour: I use all-purpose flour but whole wheat flour would also work here.
Baking powder: Baking powder is the leavening agent in this old fashioned coffee cake. It helps the cake rise and keeps it light and airy.
Salt: Salt enhances all of the flavors in this cake. It also balances out the sugar so it’s not too sweet.
Milk: I use 2% milk here but you can substitute your milk of choice. Milk adds moisture to the cake and contributes to the overall color and flavor.
Cinnamon: You can’t have a cinnamon walnut coffee cake without the cinnamon. This cake has a cinnamon filling as well as a cinnamon streusel topping.
Brown sugar: Brown sugar adds sweetness and creates caramelization in the filling and streusel layers.
Nutmeg: Nutmeg contributes a warm spice and compliments the cinnamon flavor.
Walnuts: Using toasted walnuts in this old fashioned coffee cake is optional, but recommended. Toasting the walnuts beforehand intensifies the rich nuttiness and adds a bit of crunch.
Powdered sugar: Powdered sugar is the main component of the sweet glaze that goes on top of the cake.
How to Make This Recipe
Follow these steps to make the best ever old fashioned cinnamon walnut coffee cake.
Prepare the Ingredients
Start by taking the egg, milk, and sour cream out of the refrigerator. For this recipe, it is best if these ingredients are at room temperature when added to the batter. Here’s why this is important:
- Consistency is key here and using cold ingredients can alter the overall outcome of your coffee cake.
- Room temperature dairy ingredients (e.g. milk and eggs) blend much more easily into batter than cold ones. When these ingredients are more evenly blended, more air is trapped in the batter, resulting in a lighter texture.
Next, toast the walnuts. While this step is optional, I highly recommend it for more flavor in your cinnamon walnut coffee cake.
To toast your walnuts, preheat the oven to 325°F and place the rack in the middle of the oven. Toast the walnuts on a lined baking sheet until they are golden brown (8-12 minutes) and then let them cool.
Make the Batter, Filling, & Topping
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and sour cream. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add half of the dry ingredient mixture to the batter and mix on medium-low speed just until combined. Then, add the milk and continue to mix until it is almost fully incorporated. add the remainder of the flour mixture, mix just until fully combined, and set it aside.
Then, in a food processor, add all of the filling ingredients except for the walnuts and blend until it’s fully mixed with a sandy texture. Add in the walnuts and pulse until they are finely chopped.
Pour half of the cake batter into a greased 9”x9” pan. Add a generous amount of the cinnamon filling over the top of the batter. Pour the rest of the batter on top of the filling, spreading evenly, and set it aside.
Finally, add all of the topping ingredients to the food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are combined but appear crumbly with some larger chunks. Sprinkle the streusel over the top of the cake batter.
Bake & Glaze
Place the cake on the middle rack in the oven. Bake at 350°F for 45-50 minutes or until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Meanwhile, start on the glaze. In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla and stir until smooth. Once the cake is completely cooled, drizzle the glaze on top of the cake.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Preheat the oven: Make sure the oven is fully preheated before putting your cake in. If the oven is not hot enough, it can affect the baking process.
- Use room temperature ingredients (as instructed): All of the ingredients in this recipe should be at room temperature with the exception of the cold butter in the streusel topping. As mentioned earlier, room temperature ingredients blend together more easily.
- Use softened butter: Getting your butter to be at the perfect temperature can be a bit tricky. It should be soft enough to blend smoothly but not so warm that it's mushy and oily. You can check out some ways to soften butter quickly HERE.
- Toast the walnuts: It’s a little extra work but it’s definitely worth it. Toasting the walnuts brings out the flavor and adds a nice golden color and slight crunchiness.
- Spoon and level the flour: To ensure you don’t overmeasure the flour, fluff the flour with a spoon. Then, spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level the top with a knife. Adding too much flour with make your cake dry.
- Use toothpick method: Check the center of the cake with a toothpick to make sure it’s done before removing it from the oven – you should see small crumbs on the toothpick when it comes out. If there is liquid batter on the toothpick, it’s not done yet. If the toothpick comes out completely clean, the cake might be over baked.
How To Store Leftovers
This cinnamon walnut coffee cake always goes very quickly in my house! However, if you happen to have some left over, you can easily store it to enjoy later.
Store your leftover coffee cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. For longer storage, you can keep it in the freezer for up to 2 months.
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Old Fashioned Cinnamon Walnut Coffee CakeJune 14, 2022
FOR THE BATTER
- ¾ cup butter (1½ sticks) softened
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 large egg room temperature
- ½ cup sour cream room temperature
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 pinch salt
- ¾ cup milk room temperature
FOR THE FILLING
FOR THE TOPPING
FOR THE GLAZE
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2-3 tablespoon milk
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 325°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place walnuts on baking sheet and toast in oven for 8-12 minutes until fragrant and golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Change oven temperature to 350°F and prepare a 9"x9" pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- For the cake batter, cream together butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, scraping down the sides as needed. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and sour cream. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Add half of the dry ingredient mixture to batter and mix on medium-low speed just until combined. Then, add the milk and continue to mix until almost fully incorporated. Add remainder of the flour mixture. Mix just until fully combined and set aside.
- In a food processor, add all of the filling ingredients except for the walnuts. Blend until fully mixed with a sandy texture. Add walnuts and pulse until they are finely chopped. Set aside.
- Pour half the cake batter into pan and spread evenly. Add a generous amount of filling over the top of the batter. Pour the rest of the batter on top of the filling, spreading evenly, and set it aside.
- Add all of the topping ingredients to the food processor. Pulse until combined. Streusel should appear crumbly with some larger chunks. Sprinkle streusel over top of the cake batter.
- Place cake on middle rack in oven. Bake at 350°F for 45-50 minutes or until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Remove from oven and let cool.
- In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla and stir until smooth. Once the cake is completely cooled, drizzle the glaze on top of the cake.
- Toasting the walnuts is optional but recommended for better flavor and texture
- If you do not have a 9"x9" square pan, you can substitute a 10" round pan
- Use the spoon and level method to measure the flour