Hungarian Coffee Cake

This Hungarian coffee cake, made with cinnamon sugar and a yeasted bread dough and a rich, buttery cinnamon streusel, is essentially a cross between bread and pastry and cake. What could be better?

Two loaves of Hungarian coffee cake, one partially sliced to show swirled pattern inside.

The name “Hungarian coffee cake” may seem a touch of a misnomer given that this lovely classic is actually made with a light, airy, yeast dough recipe. But what it shares in common with a more conventional coffee cake is a cinnamon swirl, an irresistibly crumbly streusel, and kids and adults always clamoring for seconds. We like to think of it as equal parts cake, bread, and pastry.–Renee Schettler

Hungarian Coffee Cake

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 45 M
  • 4 H
  • Serves 16 | Makes 1 loaf
5/5 - 1 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the Sarabeth’s Good Morning Cookbook cookbook

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  • For the streusel
  • For the coffee cake


Make the streusel

In a small bowl, mix the flour, superfine sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and butter with your fingers until combined and crumbly.

Make the coffee cake

In another small bowl, mix the brown sugar, superfine sugar, and cinnamon.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Place the dough on the work surface and dust lightly with flour. Roll out the dough into an 18-by-10-inch rectangle, with a long side facing you. Brush the well-softened butter over the surface, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the butter.

Starting at the top of the rectangle, tightly roll up the dough, leaving an empty border along the edge. Brush the empty border of dough with the beaten egg and pinch the seam closed. Gently roll the dough back and forth underneath your palms to seal the seam securely.

Push the ends in on each side and roll again to stretch the log to 18 inches. Fold the dough roughly in half to form a U-shaped curve, with one side 3 inches longer than the other. Using the side of your hand, press a dent into the dough at its bend. Fold the longer length of dough over and around the shorter length twice to make 2 humps (just like in the first and second how-to photos above). Twist the dough lengths to create a third hump (like in the third how-to photo above) and tuck the two ends under the loaf. You should have a loaf about 9 inches long with 3 humps.

Generously butter a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan. Transfer the dough to the pan, making sure that the ends are secured under it. Gently brush some butter all over the top of the dough. Sprinkle the streusel over the top, patting it gently so it adheres. (Don’t worry if some of the streusel falls into the corners or sides of the pan.) Place the loaf pan on a half-sheet pan or rimmed baking sheet.

Choose a warm spot in the kitchen for proofing. Slip the pan with the loaf pan into a tall kitchen plastic bag. Place a tall glass of hot water on either side of the loaf pan to keep the bag from touching the dough. Wave the bag to inflate it and tightly close it, trapping air in the bag. Let stand until the loaf rises 2 inches above the rim of the pan, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 350°F (177°C).

Carefully remove the glasses from the bag, then remove the pan. Bake the coffee cake on the half-sheet pan until the top is deep golden brown, the dough in the crevices looks fully baked, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the cake reads at least 195°F (91°C), 45 to 60 minutes. (It’s sorta tricky to tell when the loaf is done just by visual cues alone, so we encourage the use of a thermometer.) If the loaf threatens to darken too much, cover the top loosely with foil.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully unmold the cake onto the rack and let cool completely, right side up.

To serve, reach for a serrated knife to cut the cake into slices. Originally published October 22, 2015.

Print RecipeBuy the Sarabeth’s Good Morning Cookbook cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Recipe Testers' Reviews

This recipe is easy to follow and gives you a rich, buttery coffee cake in a few hours. The shaping instructions were easy to follow and resulted in a loaf with perfect swirls of streusel throughout. The crumb topping adds some crunch and also contributes to the buttery flavor.

I'm not sure that the process of proofing in a tall kitchen plastic bag is all that crucial, and it seems a little fussy to me. The standard proofing technique of resting the dough in the loaf pan lightly covered with a buttered piece of plastic wrap in a warm spot in the kitchen would probably work just as well.

Everything about this Hungarian coffee cake recipe is comforting: the ingredients are in your pantry, the instructions are gentle but firm, that yeasty smell of dough on the rise, that doughy texture. And that's before anything is in the oven!

There are many steps here, yes, but we're led through them with the confident tone of a Hungarian grandma at our elbow. And what a practical granny, too, giving us 2 yeast dough balls with the effort of one and instructions for freezing and thawing for another, even lazier weekend.

Practicality, too, is in the title: though this looks like a cinnamon streusel loaf, the word "cake" reminds me that I should resist the impulse to eat one tender, luxurious slice after another. (Grandma would be proud to know that it has kept, well wrapped, at room temperature, for 4 days, only slightly less wonderful than the day it was made.)

I didn't have a bag big enough for the proofing as described. So I upended our biggest pot in the house directly over the loaf.

Put this on your to-do list for a day when the warmth of the kitchen draws you to that nostalgic place...the one where YOUR Grandma (or your Pop or Mom) is at your elbow.


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  1. An absolutely delicious recipe! I froze the other half of the dough and made my second coffee cake yesterday. I let the dough defrost overnight; when I was ready to use, I let the defrosted dough rest on the countertop for about 20 minutes.

  2. This cake is not Hungarian but it’s actually Romanian. The filling can be made with not only cinnamon but also walnuts, pecans, turkish delight or raisins. The recipe originates from Romania way before Mongolians (under the great Genghis Khan), Tatar and Hun nomadic tribes settled in what is today known as Hungary. This is the same thing as baklavah is being claimed to be Turkish when it’s actually Greek. History doesn’t lie.

    1. Edith, many thanks for your time and insight. When we first happened upon this recipe in Sarabeth’s cookbook and saw the title she’d given it, we did a little research and found that there were some varying accounts as to its origins, as is the case with so many food things. We’re all for full disclosure and we look forward to hearing from others who’ve had this cake and may know a little more about how it came to be. Again, thank you!

      1. Under the claim of accuracy you should add that Hungarian Gulash is too falsely claimed, the recipe is actually Austrian.

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