Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Espresso Pecan Crumble

Who doesn’t love coffee cake? It’s perfect for a brunch dessert, after a dinner with family or served to friends with afternoon tea. I have certain family members who turn their nose up at any dessert embellished with frosting. What? Crazy! I know! I can understand passing up a gritty, powdered sugar based, buttercream, but a luscious Swiss or Italian meringue buttercream on a cake? I just don’t understand how this could be turned down. Maybe you have some frosting haters in your family too. For those irrational few, this coffee cake is sure to please.


The addition of sour cream makes for a cake that is never dry or tough. I’ve tried many variations of coffee cake and my favorites always include sour cream. In addition to creating a moist crumb, it lends richness without creating heaviness in the cake. There’s no frosting to cover up a dry cake here, so ingredients that ensure remarkable results are welcomed.

Coffee cake can sometimes be a bit heavy and dense. I wanted to impart a lighter texture to this coffee cake, but not so light that it couldn’t stand up to the crumble in the middle and on top of the cake. I used a combination of cake flour and all-purpose flour to create the texture I was looking for. With that said, it’s important to note the brand of flours I used. All-purpose flours can vary in their protein content and cake flours vary in additives, so if you’re using different flours from what I used, you may have different results with your coffee cake. I used King Arthur flour for both the all-purpose and the cake flour. King Arthur’s all-purpose flour has one of the highest protein levels in comparison to other all-purpose flours available at the grocery store. This means it may not be the best option for cakes. However, when lightened up with the cake flour, it’s the perfect combination.IMG_5635

With the cake base established, I wanted to add a little something different to the standard nut and brown sugar crumble filling and topping. I chose espresso powder because it balances the sweetness of the brown sugar and…it’s a coffee cake, why not make it a true coffee cake! The espresso is not overpowering, it just adds another element of flavor. Your coffee cake will still be delightful without the espresso powder, so if you’re not that excited about the addition, feel free to leave it out.


Coffee cake is always in season! It’s blustery and cold where I am today, but I’m warm and toasty inside with my slice of sour cream coffee cake and hot coffee with plenty of cream. In the fall, I might pair it with an apple compote and some freshly whipped cream on the side. And, grilled peaches would make a great partner in the summer. So many options! Now, get baking! 😉

Serves: 10      Bake Time: 40-45 minutes




  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature



  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur)
  • 1 cup cake flour (I used King Arthur)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups sour cream



Preheat oven to 350°      Grease and flour a 10-in. bundt pan


Begin with making the crumble. In a small mixing bowl, combine ingredients, brown sugar through pecans, stirring well to incorporate. Work the butter in with your fingers until you have a crumbly consistency. Set aside until ready for use.

For the cake, begin by combining all dry ingredients (flour-salt) in a medium mixing bowl. Stir to evenly distribute and then place through a fine mesh strainer, fitted over a bowl, to sift.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, beating well after each addition. Scape down the bowl and paddle and mix to ensure everything is evenly mixed. Mix in vanilla. Slowly add the dry ingredients with the mixer running on low, until just combined. Finally, add the sour cream, mixing again, until just combined.

Place half the batter into the prepared bundt pan. Evenly sprinkle half the crumble mixture over the batter and cover with the remaining batter. Add the remaining batter and finish by topping with what’s left of the crumble.

Bake on the center rack, in a preheated oven, for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs attached.




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