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.

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.

Zingerman’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake 

4.78 / 27 votes
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.
David Leite
CourseBreakfast
CuisineAmerican
Servings16 servings
Calories369 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time1 hour 40 minutes

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

Instructions 

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.

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.
Zingerman's Bakehouse Cookbook

Adapted From

Zingerman’s Bakehouse

Buy On Amazon

Nutrition

Serving: 1 sliceCalories: 369 kcalCarbohydrates: 43 gProtein: 5 gFat: 21 gSaturated Fat: 10 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 73 mgSodium: 207 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 28 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2017 Amy Emberling. Photo © 2017 Antonis Achilleos. All rights reserved.

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.




About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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Recipe Rating




56 Comments

  1. 4 stars
    This cake was really, really good. It was easy to put together, although I’m always challenged when a recipe says to “take 1/3 of the batter.” And this one did that twice. So there was that. And it also stuck in my Bundt pan, which I had used just a few weeks before with no issue. That was sad and disappointing. Fortunately, we salvaged it (I was going to take it to a coffee hour, but, alas, that wasn’t going to happen in its broken state) and enjoyed it. The cinnamon nut swirl was marvelous. We loved the crunch from the walnuts and, of course, the brown sugar. Good enough to give it another try, but now I’m nervous!

    1. I’m sorry to hear about it sticking, Greg, but I’m glad that the flavor made up for it. Sometimes I find that buttering the pan by hand works better than spraying it with baking spray, particularly if there are a lot of edges to cover.

    2. Greg, I’m delighted that you enjoyed the cake but frustrated that it stuck. Aargh! Have you ever tried baking spray? It contains flour and oil.

      You could also beat together flour and soften shortening. Grab a pastry brush and paint the inside of the pan.

      One thing that King Arthur Baking Company suggested is to brush the inside of the pan with butter and then sprinkle a generous amount of granulated sugar over the butter. It creates a crunchy coating that allows the cake to slip out unharmed.

      1. Thanks David. I’ve used spray in the past but it tends to leave a gunky film, so I avoid it. But maybe I should try it again. The KAF idea is intriguing. Since my family wants me to make it again, I will try `these methods!

  2. 4 stars
    I seem to be in the minority here. This cake is moist/buttery with a lovely crumb. However, to my taste, at least, it’s a bit sweet and the 2 teaspoons of cinnamon make the taste hot/spicy. I resisted the urge to use less cinnamon only because my adult daughters always tell me I never make a recipe as written. I wish I had listened to my instinct. If I make this cake again, I’d use a little less sugar in the batter and/or streusel element and reduce the amount of cinnamon.

  3. 5 stars
    This is one of my favourite cakes and I have made it many times, the original one and the lemon-poppy variation. This weekend I wanted to make a chocolate chip loaf cake and adapted this recipe. I omitted the cinnamon-nut swirl, added 250 g chopped, dark chocolate and substituted greek yogurt for the sour cream. It was very good and still is, four days later. This is a delicious and adaptable cake.

    1. 5 stars
      I had a thought to add cocoa powder to this recipe and increase the sugar just a bit but I can’t find any support for that idea. A rich and moist chocolate sour cream coffee cake?

      The picture shows the version of this recipe I made without the streusel in the middle. It was delicious (and was made for nut-free enjoyment) but it was lacking in depth of flavor.

      1. Elizabeth, your cake looks fantastic! This is a favorite in my house and I have made it with and without the walnuts. Simply mix the sugar and cinnamon together for the streusel and bake the cake as directed. We do have a Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake which may be just what you are looking for.

        1. Karen, thank you so much for your encouraging comment. I regret that I just saw it today, November 13th of 2023.

          I successfully made it a chocolate sour cream coffee cake by substituting some cocoa powder for some of the flour.

          I now sell the mold that I show in my picture above and it turns out perfect cakes every time.

          1. Wonderful, Elizabeth! We so appreciate hearing that the cocoa substitution worked well.