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.

Zingerman's Sour cream coffee cake Bundt with a slice cut out and oranges on parchment paper

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 Rossi

Zingerman's Sour Cream Coffee Cake  Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 1 H, 40 M

Ingredients

  • For the cinnamon nut swirl
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons walnut halves (132 g)
  • 3 packed tablespoons brown sugar (41 g)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (5 g)
  • For the sour cream coffee cake batter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (395 g)
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (8 ounces or 227 g), room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons full fat sour cream (227 g)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (8 ml)
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (300 g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (3 g)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (4 g)

Directions

  • Make the cinnamon nut swirl
  • 1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C).
  • 2. Toast the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet until they’re a deep golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the walnuts to a plate to cool. Turn the oven down to 300°F (150°C).
  • 3. 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
  • 4. Spray a 9-in (23-cm) Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray and coat with flour. Tap out any excess flour.
  • 5. 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 its 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.
  • 6. 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.
  • 7. 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.
  • 8. 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. Do not 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.
  • 9. 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. (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.)

Variation: Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

  • Tux variationMake 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.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

This 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 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 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 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. This is not 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.

Comments

    1. Hi Debbie,
      I live in the Calgary area and tested the lemon poppy seed version of this cake. I followed the ingredients in the recipe exactly but reduced my baking time to 55 minutes. I first checked it at 50 minutes and then gave it an extra 5. The cake turned out perfectly.

    2. Hi Debbie,
      We lived in Wyoming for 22 years at 7,400 ft altitude and now we’re an hour from Denver, Colorado at 5,000 ft. I haven’t made this exact coffeecake (but plan to very soon!), but had wonderful results with similar coffeecake recipes in high altitude. I agree with Karen’s comment that sometimes in high altitude, cakes may take a few more minutes to be done all the way through.

  1. My Michigan relatives tell me that Zingerman’s is the gold standard of baking and I believe them. I’m going to be serving this coffee cake at a tea I’m hosting in several weeks. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Just to follow up on my earlier comment–I made this gorgeous cake the other day, following the recipe to the letter. It was my first effort at a Bundt cake and was a resounding success–even down to a perfect ‘dismount’ when I turned it out of the tin. It’s wonderfully moist and buttery, with a delicious crust. There’s nothing I like more than a recipe that is well tested and works out the first time, and this is one!

    Zingerman's Sour cream coffee cake Bundt on a cooling rack

  3. Just baked this most delicious cake. Measured the sour cream by using 1 cup less 1 tablespoon. Walnuts were hidden deep in the freezer, so substituted whole pecans, roughly broken. Baked exactly 65 minutes. A keeper!

  4. Yum! This is a stunner. I was looking for a recipe to use up a surplus of walnuts…but now I have a recipe for life.

    I was a little worried because the batter was quite thick and hard to spread evenly….but I did my best, and I don’t think it mattered in the end. Everything melded together in a swirling whirl of cinnamon-y walnutty goodness. See for yourself.

    Overhead photo of a swirl Zingerman's Cake with cinnamon and walnuts

    1. Wow, Janet Stein, that is a stunner! You hit it out of the park. And in the end, I don’t think anything matters except taste. Hope you shared this with Momma Stein…!

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