This make-ahead cinnamon coffee cake is perfect for the mornings that you want to have something sweet, nutty, and freshly baked without the fuss of getting up early. It also makes a lovely afternoon snack or dessert.
The best party menus are filled with recipes that vary in flavor, colors, cooking times, and most importantly, are able to be mostly made ahead. If I had to choose my favorite time of day to entertain, it would be in the morning for several reasons. I could live on breakfast foods, it’s usually less expensive than parties in the evening, and it allows for an after-party nap before sundown. If you get up in the middle of the night to cook for the morning, the life of the party certainly won’t be you.—Rebecca Lang
Make-Ahead Cinnamon Coffee Cake FAQs
What can I do if the crumble topping is getting too brown in the oven?
First, loosely tent the pan with foil. This should slow down the browning considerably. Another thing you can do is to move the pan to the lower third of the oven.
Can the nut crumble be made ahead of time, too?
Sure. It can sit in the fridge overnight and, actually, you’ll find that your crumble will stay together in bigger chunks if it’s cold. If big delicious nuggets of crumble aren’t your thing, let it come to room temperature alongside the batter.
Make-Ahead Cinnamon Coffee Cake
For the coffee cake
- 1 1/2 sticks (6 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for the baking dish
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for the baking dish
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the nut crumble
- 3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
- 3/4 cup sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons (2 oz) melted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the drizzle icing
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
Make the coffee cake
- In the bowl of a fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add the sugars, beating well. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour and baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
- In a small bowl, combine sour cream, heavy cream, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternating with the sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Allow each addition to be fully incorporated before continuing.
- Butter and flour a 13-by-9-inch (33-by-23-cm) baking dish. Pour the batter into the dish, cover tightly, and chill 8 to 24 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Let the batter stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Make the nut crumble
- While the chilled batter comes to room temperature, in a medium bowl, stir together all of the nut crumble ingredients.
- Sprinkle the batter with the nut crumble. Bake in the preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.
Make the drizzle icing
- In a medium bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and milk until glossy and looks like satin ribbons when a spoon is lifted from the bowl.
- Drizzle the icing over the cake and serve.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
We’re all about coffee cake in our household and I’ll definitely add this make-ahead cinnamon coffee cake recipe to my arsenal of options. Easy to put together, everyday ingredients that you’d either have on-hand or are convenient to find, flexible with the timing of when you’d need to make it. Plus, if there are any leftovers, they’ll last a few days in the fridge.
Because this recipe made a generous amount, I shared it with various groups of friends. The feedback was all positive. Some thought it was more on the sweeter side and better suited for an afternoon snack or dessert. Others thought the sweetness was just right and paired well with morning coffee or tea. The topping taste and crunch factor was the highlight for everyone—many requested I just make more topping and serve that on its own. (It would be good on yogurt or ice cream!) The drizzle was a nice touch but the quantity was a bit too much for our liking. For future batches, I’ll include the icing, just less of it. Also, to help balance the sweetness, I did add a pinch of salt to the topping mixture.
For prep, I wanted to assemble the nut crumble together the day before, which I did, then kept it in a bowl in the fridge until when I was ready to bake. I took both the pan of batter and bowl of nut crumble topping out to come to room temp at the same time, which worked perfectly.
I was intrigued by the “make-ahead” nature of this cinnamon coffee cake recipe. I enjoy making something for Sunday mornings. The recipe was uncomplicated and the fact that most of the work is completed the day before, is a real bonus. I’ll be making it again. The recipe is accessible to cooks of all levels and it would be a great recipe to try with children learning to bake.
Warm from the oven, the texture of the coffee cake was very light and lacy, almost delicate. The flavor was excellent, although I could make a case for adding cloves or cardamom to the batter. I substituted sea salt for the table salt in the batter. The cake is even better the day after. It was very good warm on Sunday, but it did lack the density I love in a crumb cake. The following day, the cake was less airy and had a little more heft to it. We are working our way through the entire pan!
The world can always use another coffee cake recipe. I’ll be adding this one to my Sunday rotation.
You could debate whether the world needs another coffee cake recipe but once you make this one, you’ll say the answer is yes. Coffee cake recipes are a dime a dozen but this make-ahead cinnamon coffee cake stands head and shoulders above most others I’ve tried. Even the sour cream coffee cake recipes.
I’m not sure if it was the make-ahead part—the headnote only talks about that being a time saver and not a cake enhancer—or simply the blend of the ingredients but it produced one of the most flavorful, light, and airy coffee cakes I have ever had. And to have that fluffy cake topped with crunchy nuts coated with a wonderful glaze, well, the world needs this recipe. There were no tricky or challenging parts.
Originally published December 12, 2021