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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