A rich Classic Coffee Cake, complete with a tender crumb, rich flavor, and a vegan variation.
Classic coffee cake is a long-lost friend that I just reunited with and can’t stop spending a ton of time with. I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with and memories of her, but somehow down the road life just got in the way and we lost touch. Work and careers, a few cross-country moves, busyness taking care of two insane dogs. It all got me tied up somehow.
But then, the other day when out for breakfast and so hungry from that morning’s run that I couldn’t think straight (or maybe, I was thinking the straightest that I’ve thought in a while…) I ordered the restaurant’s healthy vegan coffee cake.
“Would you like it before or with your meal?” My waitress asked.
“Before, please.” No hesitation.
When the coffee cake came out all the memories came flooding back. Of the time I made it for a party and the flaky crumb surprised us all. Of the weekend brunches that it filled in all the cracks from the night before. The reminder that something so unsuspecting can leave such a mark.
Satiated and lost in reverie, I didn’t have much appetite left to address my meal by the time it came out. But, by the time I was half-way home from breakfast, I had already planned out recreating a coffee cake at home. After all, I couldn’t let too much time pass before I saw it again.
The Coffee Cake
Even though I ordered a vegan coffee cake, I understand that not everyone wants to or aims to eat vegan. Therefore, since the eggs, milk, and butter are the only things that differ between the two recipes and are measured in the same amounts for both, I wanted to make a recipe that could go both ways. This being said, if you're looking for a coffee cake without milk, go for the vegan variation!
That said, this classic coffee cake can be made either vegan or traditional. Either way, it will taste like an old fashioned coffee cake. The vegan version just has a slightly softer texture to it. Otherwise, cooking times are the same for both variations. See the vegan cooking notes (below) for some additional helpful vegan baking tips.
Recipe Notes to Make the Best Coffee Crumb Cake:
- Make sure your eggs and milk (both vegan and traditional) are at room temperature before mixing your wet ingredients together. Ask me how I know! Temperature makes a surprisingly large difference in recipe success.
- Weighing and measuring flour -- I know this is probably super annoying to hear, but the most accurate way to measure flour is by weighing it. I resisted getting a kitchen scale for the longest time because I felt like it was just someone being super uppity about their baking, but when I finally broke down and bought one (for just over $10!!), I finally understood why. And it's so much easier then I expected (bye, bye cleaning 10,000 measuring spoons and cups)! Also, I had never had such consistent baking! Here is the kitchen scale I use, but if you don't want to wait or it just isn't in the cards for you now, just make sure to spoon and level your flour in the meantime.
- The Flours: if you have cake flour, use 3 cups of it in place of the 2 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour and ⅓ cup cornstarch. Since it's so hard to find, however, I just wrote this recipe with a cake flour hack. That is, substituting 2 tablespoons of each cup of all-purpose flour used with cornstarch. Makes the crumb super tender each time!
Coffee Cake Variations:
Layer in some fruit and/or nuts underneath the brown sugar streusel:
- Fresh or frozen blueberries
- Chopped apples
- Pecans or walnuts
- Dried cranberries
- Chocolate chips
Layer about ½ - ¾ cup on each layer (depending on the density of the fruit or nuts you want). I plan to make a vegan blueberry coffee cake next!
A Lightning Round Q&A
Does coffee cake have coffee in it?
Here in the states, coffee cake does not traditionally have coffee in it! Coffee cake recipes are just called that because they go so well with coffee or coffee drinks.
How do you know coffee cake is done?
It will be done when a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out with no smeary batter streaks on it, or when a thermometer reads 210 degrees.
What is coffee cake called?
It usually goes by that name, but can also occasionally be referred to as a crumb cake or classic crumb coffee cake.
Other Easy & Tasty Dessert Recipes
- Coconut Chocolate Chip Quinoa Cookies
- Peanut Butter Brookies
- Lemon Blueberry Muffin Bread
- Date Brownies
- Coconut Maple Chai Breakfast Risotto
- Chocolate Covered Banana and Coconut Smoothie
- Best Whole Wheat Pancakes
- Vanilla Spiced Coconut Granola
- High Altitude Sugar Cookies
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A classic coffee cake that can either be made traditionally or vegan. Just use eggs, dairy milk and butter if traditional or nut milk, flax "egg" and coconut oil for a vegan preparation. Either way, make sure the milks and eggs are at room temperature for best results.
- Non-stick cooking spray
- 1 ⅓ cup (or 160g) whole wheat flour
- ⅓ cup (or 40g) cornstarch
- 2 ⅓ cup (or 280g) all purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons (or 21g) baking powder
- ⅔ teaspoon (or 4g) salt
- 1 cup (or 200g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup canola oil or other light oil
- 1 ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons nut milk (vegan) or 2% dairy milk (traditional), brought to room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Eggs -- choose vegan or traditional:
- Vegan eggs: 2 ⅔ tablespoons flaxseed meal mixed into 5 ½ tablespoons water and 1 ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- Traditional eggs: 3 large eggs, brought to room temperature and beat until starting to form air bubbles
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 T melted coconut oil (vegan) or butter (traditional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8 x 13 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray
- In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Mix until blended with a whisk or fork. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.
If Using Flax "Eggs"
- Whisk together the flax, water, and apple cider vinegar and let set aside 5 minutes.
For Both Vegan & Traditional Cake
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients, using the nut milk and flax “eggs” mixture (after it's rested) if baking this vegan and using the dairy milk and eggs if baking this traditionally.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, whisking together everything until no dry flour bits remain, but don’t over whisk it past this point.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and cinnamon with a fork until the cinnamon is evenly distributed through the sugar. Add the coconut oil (if vegan) or butter (if traditional) and whisk in until the butter or oil is mainly distributed and sugar is starting to look clumpy.
- Pour half of the wet batter into the baking pan covered with non-stick spray and spread out evenly. Sprinkle half of the brown sugar mix over the batter, covering the batter evenly. Pour the rest of the batter and lightly spread out evenly into the pan. Sprinkle the rest of the brown sugar evenly over the top.
- Bake for 30-34 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean and without any batter streaks on it. Remove to a cooling rack and let cool for at least 10 or so minutes. Serve warm or wait until it’s cooled more.
Cake keeps covered at room temperature for 3-4 days or for 5-7 days in the fridge. Just warm up in a toaster (or microwave) on low power before serving.
Amount Per Serving Calories 385Total Fat 20gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 15gCholesterol 39mgSodium 254mgCarbohydrates 47gFiber 2gSugar 22gProtein 6g
This nutrition breakdown is an estimate of the nutritional value of this recipe and cannot be taken as facts. The owners of Mae's Menu are not nutritionists or dieticians and therefore cannot be held accountable for this nutrition estimate. Please contact your nutritionist or medical professional for a nutritional breakdown of this food. Furthermore, this food is not intended to prevent, diagnose, cure, or treat any disease.
Vegan Cooking Notes:
- Vegan sugar! If you're making this vegan, you'll probably want to make sure you're using sugars that are not processed with bone char. To get around this, either use coconut sugar, beet sugar, or any of these brands of sugars.
- Flax "eggs:" make sure to let your flax egg mixture rest for 5 minutes or so before mixing in with the rest of the wet ingredients.
- To keep your flax "eggs" at room temperature water, just make them with room temperature water.