Zingerman’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake 

This easy sour cream coffee cake, from the famous Zingerman’s Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, MI, lives up to its well-deserved reputation. A cinnamon walnut filling swirls through a moist, buttery cake Bundt. Caution: Highly addictive.

A Zingerman's sour cream coffee cake with a piece cut from it and lying on its side with a cup of coffee, and a stack of plates and pile of forks nearby.

Adapted from Amy Emberling | Zingerman’s Bakehouse | Chronicle Books, 2017

Though unassuming in appearance, make no mistake, this coffee cake is indulgent to the nth degree. Butter, sour cream, and eggs make it incredibly rich and so moist it keeps for nearly a week. Sugar and spice and everything nice makes it as intoxicating to consume as it is to catch a whiff of its aroma while it bakes. We think you’re going to be just as smitten as we are and, actually, as everyone who’s tasted it has been.–Renee Schettler

HOW LONG WILL THIS SOUR CREAM COFFEE CAKE LAST?

The cake keeps well at room temperature for at least 1 week, if wrapped well. The texture will become denser over time. It also freezes nicely for up to 3 months. Fortunately, it’s really easy to slice in half—eat half today, freeze and eat the other half in a few weeks.

Zingerman's Sour Cream Coffee Cake 

A Zingerman's sour cream coffee cake with a piece cut from it and lying on its side with a cup of coffee, and a stack of plates and pile of forks nearby.
This easy sour cream coffee cake, from the famous Zingerman's Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, MI, lives up to its well-deserved reputation. A cinnamon walnut filling swirls through a moist, buttery cake Bundt. Caution: Highly addictive.
Amy Emberling

Prep 30 mins
Cook 1 hr 10 mins
Total 1 hr 40 mins
Breakfast
American
16 servings
369 kcal
5 from 5 votes
Print RecipeBuy the Zingerman's Bakehouse cookbook

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Ingredients 

For the cinnamon nut swirl

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons walnut halves
  • 3 packed tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

For the sour cream coffee cake batter

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons full fat sour cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions
 

Make the cinnamon nut swirl

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C).
  • Toast the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet until they’re a deep golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Move the walnuts to a plate to cool. Turn the oven down to 300°F (150°C).
  • Finely chop the cooled toasted walnuts. In a small bowl, mix together the walnuts, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

Make the sour cream coffee cake batter

  • Spray a 9-in (23-cm) Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray and coat with flour. Tap out any excess flour.
  • In a large bowl, combine the sugar and butter. Beat with the paddle attachment of an electric mixer on medium speed until the color lightens, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating thoroughly after each egg until it’s completely incorporated before adding the next. Stir in the sour cream and vanilla and mix well until light and creamy. Scrape the sides of the bowl to make sure all of the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
  • Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix by hand or with a mixer on low speed until smooth and homogeneous.
  • Scoop 1/3 of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle 1/2 the nut mixture evenly over the batter. Cover with another 1/2 the remaining batter, using a spoon or spatula to spread the batter evenly over the pan and to the edges after each addition. Sprinkle the remaining nut mixture evenly over the batter and cover with the remaining batter, again spreading it evenly over the nut mixture.
  • Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until a cake tester or skewer or uncooked strand of spaghetti comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire cooling rack for 15 minutes. Don’t let the cake cool in the pan for much longer than this or the brown sugar in the streusel might stick to the sides of the pan and make it difficult to release the cake.
  • Place the wire cooling rack on top of the Bundt pan and then invert the pan to release the cake. Cool to room temperature before slicing.
5 from 5 votes
Print RecipeBuy the Zingerman's Bakehouse cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Notes

Lemon-Poppy Seed Cake variation

Make the sour cream coffee cake batter but omit the cinnamon nut swirl At the end of step 5 add 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (preferably organic) with 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1 cup ground poppy seeds (130 g) to the batter. Bake at the same temperature and for the same amount of time as the sour cream coffee cake.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 369kcal (18%)Carbohydrates: 43g (14%)Protein: 5g (10%)Fat: 21g (32%)Saturated Fat: 10g (63%)Trans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 73mg (24%)Sodium: 207mg (9%)Potassium: 97mg (3%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 28g (31%)Vitamin A: 494IU (10%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 40mg (4%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

Recipe Testers' Reviews

This recipe for Zingerman's sour cream coffee cake is delicious with its crisp crust and buttery, moist center. The flavor is well blended with the vanilla, cinnamon, nuts, and butter. The sour cream really helps the cake stay moist. This is a winner in terms of taste and texture!

This moist and delicious Zingerman's sour cream coffee cake comes together quite easily. My advice would be to have a hot cup of coffee ready for when you slice your first piece. You’ll enjoy the two together.

Delicious! The cinnamon and nut swirl is what this cake is all about and it keeps you coming back for more. The sour cream coffee cake itself is moist and not too heavy but just heavy enough to carry the filling. In between bites, I heard "Mom this is SO good.” and “best cake ever!” The recipe is straightforward with uncomplicated ingredients and produced a wonderful cake.

Mmmm. All-around familiar, reliably delicious Zingerman's sour cream coffee cake—we love you just the way you are. Not that we’d ever need to be concerned about the shelf life of a cake this good, but let me support the author’s claim that this cake does keep well at room temperature (long enough that you could enjoy it all by yourself—perfect if sharing isn’t your thing!).

Like many fine-crumbed cakes, this coffee cake improved over time. As time went by, the buttery richness became more pronounced and the texture more uniformly moist. The walnuts became more tender and bonded with the cake more firmly, making it easier to slice through the larger walnut pieces. I think the quality peaked on day 3 and remained stable. After a week, the cake started to feel just a teeny bit dry, but the last piece on day 12 was still thoroughly enjoyable.

One pointer. When filling the Bundt pan, 1/3 of the cake batter doesn’t seem much, so just spread it evenly with a back of a spoon to make a complete layer.

I am really much more of a pie proponent than a cake fan, but if I had to choose cake, then it has to be like this one. It’s a rich Bundt cake that's a fluffy, light-as-air cake, and it’s really up my alley. I loved the flavor of the buttery cake set against the crunchy cinnamon walnut filling and it was the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee each day for more than a week!

Wonderfully moist and delicious. A lovely treat for a cold winter day with its burst of lemon and crunchy poppy seeds. Whether you’re curled up with a hot cup of coffee or a cool glass of iced tea, this cake is the perfect accompaniment. It keeps really well and after 5 days the slices are just as moist as the first cut. Which means you can make this anytime, just for yourself, and enjoy a perfect slice every day until it’s all gone. No sharing necessary.


Originally published February 24, 2018

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Comments

  1. I have. Fold it into the batter rather than into the nut mixture. I also add a good amount of cardamom. The Odeon in NYC toasted slices of this and sold it as a dessert for $8.00.

    1. Will, we haven’t tried it with gluten free flour, so we really can’t say. If any of our readers has tried this, we’d love to hear from you!

  2. 5 stars
    I do want to point out that the original recipe does not have chopped nuts. It specifically calls for walnut halves, not chopped.

    1. Thanks, Dawne. Yes, when we tested this recipe prior to putting it on the site, we did follow it exactly, but some of the comments we were hearing from our testers who reached out to us during baking was that the smaller size of a chopped nut seemed more streusel-like to them. And so we did make that change.

  3. Any suggestions for leaving out the nuts to modify for a nut allergy? Just do the cinnamon and brown sugar, or need to add something else for structure?

    1. I made it without the nuts. My husband and I don’t like nuts in our coffee cake. I simply omitted that step. The only change I made to the batter was to add an additional tablespoon of flour for baking at altitude. It turned out perfect, exactly like the original cake, which I have had. My hubby used to work at Zingerman’s Deli.

      One more thing. I used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream because that’s what I had. That worked perfectly, too.

    2. Hi Erin, though we didn’t test the recipe without nuts, I think you should be fine to leave them out. Please let us know when you try the coffee cake.

      1. Ended up adding about a 1/2 cup of oats to the brown sugar and cinnamon—was worried about volume. Turned out delicious, the oats making for nice textural contrast

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