My Mother’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake

I remember my mother telling me that this cake is better the second day. There are certain ingredients that have to meld. It’s like stew, all the flavors have a chance to mingle. I also remember the fragrance that wafted out of the kitchen when this cake was baking. There’s nothing fancy about it. This is a cake that says “home,” that says your mother is in the kitchen with her apron on, the way she was when you were a little child and she was taking care of you.

I know it has butter, sugar, and sour cream, but your readers don’t have to eat the whole thing. They could try using a little willpower. But if they have enough people over, they’re not going to get a chance.–Marian Burros

Special Equipment: 9-inch springform or tube pan

My Mother's Sour Cream Coffee Cake Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Serves 8 to 12


  • For the filling and topping
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • For the cake
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream


  • 1. Mix together the walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon and set aside.
  • 2. Place a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9-inch springform or tube pan.
  • 3. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light in color.
  • 4. Sift the flour and re-measure. Sift the flour again with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a mixer set at low speed, alternately add the eggs and the flour mixture to the butter mixture.
  • 5. Beat in the vanilla and sour cream until thoroughly blended.
  • 6. Spoon half the batter into the prepared pan. Top with half the nut mixture, stirring as you add it to keep it mixed. Top with the remaining batter, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining nut mixture.
  • 7. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until a cake tester inserted just off center comes out clean. Take the cake from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes; remove the cake from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Kim Venglar

Apr 15, 2003

This is the best coffee cake I’ve ever made. It has ingredients I always have on hand and is simple to mix together. Most coffee cakes seem to be pretty dense, but this one is a very moist, light cake. It’s good warm from the oven, and I couldn’t wait to see how it tasted the next day, although I almost wasn’t able to find out since most of it was gone that first day. I had to hide a piece so I could try it the second day! All the kids and grandchildren have requested me to make it again very soon. This will go in our family favorites and be handed down for generations to come. Be sure to sift the flour and re-measure, as I was surprised at how much extra flour there was.

Pam Moore

Apr 15, 2003

This recipe is almost exactly the same as my mother’s! It is so wonderful, but benefits from sitting well wrapped for a day or so, if you can leave it alone. I don’t remember that happening at our house when I was growing up, even though it says in my mom’s recipe, to wrap it and serve it the next day.

Dena Eran

Apr 15, 2003

This recipe is absolutely fabulous! The cake is extremely light in texture, moist and very tasty. Great the first day right out of the oven, but it reheats extremely well (and tastes fresh). It also freezes well. Only one warning — this cake is huge, so be prepared to have a lot of company or freeze some. Our house guest who normally does not like a sweet breakfast proclaimed it the best coffee cake that he had ever tasted and was ready for seconds.

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