This is an easy and delicious cinnamon swirl coffee cake that can be made for any occasion that requires a dessert and a cup of coffee. Think breakfast, brunch, parties, or lazy Sundays when people might stop by your place for a visit.
What is a Coffee Cake?
This is an American coffee cake recipe. American coffee cakes are sweet cakes that are meant to be served with a cup of coffee.
We are not talking about a cake that is made with coffee, among other ingredients.
German immigrants brought this type of cake to America, and since then, it has been embraced by many communities around the US.
You can find this type of cake under different names like Gugelhupf or kaffekuchen, but most Americans, especially the ones in the Midwest, know it as a coffee cake.
American coffee cakes are informal cakes that can be made any day of the week. Some recipes are made with buttermilk, some with sour cream (probably this one is the most popular), and some with milk.
Most of them rise with baking powder or baking soda and can also carry fruit, cinnamon, cocoa powder, nuts, etc. These ingredients could be used as a topping, mixed in the batter, or just swirled gently to create a pattern in the cake.
However, most recipes use basic ingredients that most people have in their pantries at all times.
Characteristics of coffee cakes:
- Cinnamon- most coffee cake recipes have this ingredient either inside the cake or as a topping
- Topping- this is usually made with granulated or brown sugar mixed with cinnamon, cocoa powder, and sometimes nuts, like chopped pecans, walnuts, or almonds, for more texture
- There is no frosting- because it is a casual cake, most of the time, the surface of the coffee cake is simply dusted with powdered sugar or drizzled with some icing glaze.
What is cinnamon swirl coffee cake?
My recipe comes from Minnesota. Here, people love to bake these coffee cakes that are popular whenever there is a gathering.
With a preponderantly European population that settled in this region from Scandinavia, Germany, and Central Europe, Minnesota has an old baking tradition.
The characteristic of this bread is the fact that after the batter is mixed together and poured into the tube pan, the topping is swirled into the batter.
There is not only one coffee cake recipe. The variations are multiple, from how the batter is made to what kind of topic is used or how the topic is added.
You simply cannot go wrong with a dessert like this if you plan a brunch or a big party where a cup of coffee or tea would be involved.
- Butter- the butter needs to be unsalted and at room temperature
- Granulated sugar- use granulated sugar, not powdered sugar/confectioner sugar, as the amount you need will be different.
- Eggs- I used large eggs
- All-purpose flour- this is the most popular type of flour in the US and good enough for this cinnamon swirl coffee cake.
- Baking powder
- Milk- I used whole milk. I would not use fat-free, because you need that fat from the milk.
- Vanilla- I used vanilla extract
- Cinnamon- I used powder
- Cocoa Powder- do not use mixtures for chocolate milk. You need cocoa powder for baking.
How to make:
First thing first, we need to preheat the oven. Also, grease a 9-inch tube pan and set it aside.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy.
You can do this with a hand mixer, whisk, or even in a KitchenAid if you are lucky enough to own one.
After the butter and sugar are creamed together, start adding the eggs, but one by one.
In a different bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and start adding them to the butter, alternating with the milk. Place the vanilla in the milk before you do this step.
Some recipes use raisins in the batter, which are optional. However, if you choose to add them, this is the moment.
Pour batter into the prepared tube pan.
Use a small bowl to mix the ingredients for the topping together. Add the topping on top of the batter.
Grab a wooden skewer, knife, or fork and swirl the batter to slightly mix the topping in.
Bake the cake for an hour or until is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Allow the cake to rest inside the pan for about 10 minutes before you remove it from the pan.
Serve it with coffee or tea with your favorite people.
Can I add anything else to the batter?
- If raisins are not your thing, you can add cranberries or candied fruit.
- Lemon zest is great if you want the cake to be more lemony
- Nuts, like chopped pecans, walnuts, or even slivered almonds, which are a great addition
Room temperature: Place it in an airtight container and keep it for up to two days.
Freezer: Place it in a freezer-safe container or Ziploc bag. It should be good to eat for up to 3 months.
Refrigerator: Place it in an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator for up to a week.
If you like your coffee bread warmed up, you can reheat it in the microwave in 10-second increments until warm.
Coffee cake recipes:
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Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 3 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
- 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 4 teaspoons cinnamon
- 4 teaspoons cocoa powder
- ½ cup chopped nuts
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch tube pan and set it aside.
- In a large bowl or a KitchenAid mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and creamy.
- Add eggs, one at a time.
- In a different bowl, sift together dry ingredients and add them to the butter, alternatively with milk and vanilla. If you choose to add raisins, add them now.
- Pour batter into the greased tube pan.
- Mix the topping in a smaller bowl. Add it to the top of the batter.
- Take a wooden skewer or knife and swirl the batter to slightly mix the topping in.
- Bake at 350F for about an hour. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the pan.