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A cake is always a crowd-pleaser, but what excites people even more is a cake for breakfast. Enter coffee cake! Traditionally, a coffee cake was created to eat during a midday break with coffee. Today, we use coffee cake as a treat for those special occasions when breakfast is more than just the usual.
My Grandma Conrad would always make this church cookbook classic, a Bundt coffee cake. It’s a moist yellow cake swirled with cinnamon sugar, and depending on who was eating the cake, chopped nuts. As a kid, I thought this was the best thing ever, and as an adult I still do!
The ingredients that make up this coffee cake
- Flour in this cake uses all-purpose, just like most other recipes. All flours are rated by their protein rate and all-purpose is the middle ground of flours. Cake flour is what pastry chefs use for cake, so it might make sense that this recipe would use cake flour. But instead of needing to buy another flour, this recipe is designed for all-purpose.
- Cornstarch is the secret ingredient that turns the all-purpose flour into a cake flour. The cornstarch lowers the protein ratio and lightens the flour, which in turn lightens the finished texture of the cake.
- Butter lends a rich flavor to the cake but is incorporated in a unique way. Instead of creaming the butter and sugar, the butter is added to the dry ingredients in a method called reverse creaming. The dry ingredients coat pieces of the butter as the pieces are worked in, which helps create a uniform (and perfect) texture for the cake.
- Vegetable or neutral oil is added in addition to the butter. While it may seem like an odd ingredient, oil gives cake a level of moisture that is incomparable. If you love box mix cakes for their moist texture, this is the secret ingredient you need.
- Eggs are necessary to give the correct rise to the cake. Extra yolks are added to give the classic yellow cake color and additional richness.
- Milk helps tenderize the cake and add flavor. If possible, always use whole milk for additional flavor and richness. Water could be used, but would do little for the cake.
- Sour cream provides a denser and richer texture to the cake. The slight tanginess of the sour cream helps offset the overall inherent sweetness and balances out the flavors.
The recipe was originally designed to be used with a box of yellow cake. While this works, I find many packaged boxes of cake mix have numerous added ingredients and can have an “off” flavor. This recipe is simple and offers superior flavor, texture, and is almost as quick as throwing in a box.
Watch how to make this coffee cake recipe
Grandma’s Coffee Cake
- 2 cups flour
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 2 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter room temperature
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 cup toasted pecans chopped
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
For the glaze
- 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1-2 tbsp milk
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a bundt pan with baking spray and set it aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to combine. Add the room temperature butter 1 tbsp at a time and allow each piece to incorporate before adding the next, 2-3 minutes, until the mixture looks like wet sand. Add the oil and mix on low.2 cups flour, ¼ cup cornstarch, 1 ½ cups sugar, 2 ½ tsp baking powder, ½ tsp salt, 8 tbsp unsalted butter, ½ cup vegetable oil
- In a large measuring glass, combine the eggs, yolks, milk, and vanilla extract. Whisk to combine. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the wet mixture to the mixer. Mix for 1 minute and add the sour cream. Continue to mix for 1 minute, then add the remaining milk mixture. Mix until just combined, 1 minute, and turn the mixer off.3 eggs, 2 egg yolks, 1 cup milk, 2 tsp vanilla extract, ½ cup sour cream
- In a small bowl, combine ¾ cup of toasted pecans, ½ cup of sugar, and the cinnamon. Stir to combine. Pour roughly ¾ of the batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Sprinkle about ¾ of the sugar mixture on top. Repeat with the remaining batter and sugar mixture. Use a knife inserted all the way to the bottom of the pan and make figure-eight patterns to combine the sugar and batter slightly.1 cup toasted pecans, ½ cup sugar, 1 tbsp cinnamon
- Bake in the preheated oven until the cake is golden and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean, 45-55 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then invert on a cooling rack for 40 minutes to finish cooling.
- While cooling, combine the powdered sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and milk. Whisk until smooth and drizzle over the cooled cake. Top with the remaining nuts and serve.1 cup sifted powdered sugar, ½ tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1-2 tbsp milk