Buttermilk Coffee Cake

Sometimes I forget how much I like coffee cake.

And then, I get a leftover hunk or two (or have to deal with, ahem, crumbly mistakes in the kitchen) that must be consumed.

And then, I have to stop myself from crumbling up the rest of the cake and eating it all for myself.

My favorite coffee cake, by far, is the Caramel Apple Coffee Cake that I make every year at the beginning of fall. However, that cake is a once-a-year project for a reason: it has three different parts coming together, and I usually split up the assembly over two days. It’s worth it, but sometimes, I want something simpler, especially for selling at market.

Enter the Buttermilk Coffee Cake. Unfussy, infused with cinnamon goodness and buttery streusel, and so very easy to pull together. You can use a stand mixer if that’s your bag, but I love this because I can do the whole thing easily by hand, and it comes together in less than twenty minutes. You can also add sliced apples or other firm fruit, swirls of jam, or whatever else your heart desires, in the center. Mmmm.

I think I’ve talked it up enough. Let’s get to the recipe.

Buttermilk Coffee Cake

  • Servings: 14-16
  • Print

You are welcome to sub in sour milk or even yogurt for the buttermilk - you just may need to add or subtract the amount to get the right consistency.

you will need:

  • 3 c all-purpose or cake flour
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1 T cinnamon (you can reduce this to a tsp for a more subtle cinnamon flavor)
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1 c vegetable oil or melted butter (I actually prefer oil here, as the topping is very rich)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • For the streusel topping or filling:
  • 1 c flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ c (1 stick) butter, melted
  • ½ c brown sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour two loaf pans or 1 tube pan and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the streusel topping ingredients with a fork until fully combined. Store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use – it should be cold and fairly solid by that time.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, and vanilla until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated. Add ⅓ of the flour mixture and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until combined. Add half of the buttermilk, and stir until combined. Repeat, alternating the flour and buttermilk and ending with the flour mixture, until you have a smooth dough.
  5. Pour half of your batter into your prepared pan or pans. Remove the streusel from the refrigerator and break it up into chunks with a fork. Sprinkle half of the streusel on top of the batter, then top with the rest of the batter, smoothing out the top. Sprinkle the remaining streusel on top. (If you’re lazy like me, or don’t want a bunch of crumblies everywhere and don’t mind a little caramelized fun in the middle of the cake, you can incorporate all of the streusel in the middle. It’ll change the texture a bit, but it’s still quite tasty.) Tap your pan(s) against the counter once or twice to break up any air bubbles.
  6. Bake cake at 350 degrees F until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour if using a tube pan, and 45 minutes to an hour in loaf pans. (If the cake or topping begins to brown more than you wish, you can cover it with foil in the last 10 minutes or so of baking.) Remove from oven, and place on a cooling rack. Cool completely before removing from the pans. Store in an airtight container or reusable wrap for up to a few days.

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