This incredibly soft, tender, and fluffy buttermilk coffee cake is baked up with a swirl of cinnamon and sugar and a chewy, nutty streusel crust. The cake is an irresistible combination of textures - soft cake, chewy streusel, crispy almonds - and perfect for breakfast, brunch, or an afternoon snack.
Streusel is my jam. In coffee shops, New York Crumb Cake is always my first choice. And while I love the cake and fruit in Blueberry Crumb Cake and French Apple Cake the thick layer of streusel is easily my favorite part.
In this buttermilk coffee cake, the streusel takes a topsy-turvy twist and gets baked on the bottom into a delightfully chewy yet tender crust. Cake with a crust? Yes please and thank you, I will have another slice.
This buttermilk coffee cake is flavored with cinnamon, cardamom, roasted almonds, and vanilla. The combination of butter and buttermilk creates a rich, tender cake with a soft crumb that provides a delicious contrast to the chewy streusel and almond crust.
- Buttermilk. Buttermilk is the star ingredient in this cake, creating a soft, tender, super moist crumb. If you don't have any, here are 7 ways to make a great buttermilk substitute.
- Butter. I used salted butter, but if you're sensitive to salt, use unsalted butter.
- Baking Powder and Baking Soda.
- Cardamom and Cinnamon. This cake includes cinnamon in the streusel-almond crust and the cinnamon sugar swirl that runs through the middle of this cake. But the vanilla cake itself is flavored with cardamom. The combination is delicious!
- Salt. Salt is as essential to sweet baked goods as it is to savory foods but how much salt you like in food is a personal preference. I used salted butter plus the amount of salt listed in the recipe. If you are sensitive to salt, reduce the amount of salt in the recipe and/ or use unsalted butter.
- Eggs. When making the cake batter for this coffee cake, it's important that both the butter and eggs be at room temperature. Room-temperature ingredients blend together easily and will trap more air in the batter resulting in a lighter, fluffier texture. Here's how to bring dairy and eggs to room temperature quickly.
- Roasted almonds. I love the flavor of roasted almonds, but if you prefer the flavor of raw almonds they'll work just as well.
- Vanilla Extract. Be sure to use pure vanilla extract, not the imitation variety.
- Granulated Sugar.
- Cake Flour. Using cake flour instead of all-purpose flour in this cake creates a soft, fluffy crumb and a tender, chewy streusel crust. See the notes in the recipe card for a good substitute for cake flour.
- Vanilla Icing. Finish this cake with a drizzle of simple vanilla icing.
- Bake a buttermilk coffee cake with a streusel top instead of a streusel crust: Make the streusel as directed but sprinkle it over the top of the cake batter before baking instead of using it to create a chewy crust. Squeeze the streusel together between your fingers to create some larger crumbs.
- Use other spices instead of or in addition to cinnamon and cardamom. Ginger, nutmeg, and allspice are also delicious flavors to add to coffee cake. Just be careful how much you add; the flavor of ginger, nutmeg, and allspice tends to be more intense than cinnamon and cardamom.
- Add some almond extract. If you want to intensify the almond flavor of this cake, simply add a teaspoon or two of almond extract to the batter along with the vanilla.
- Swap out the vanilla icing for lemon icing. Lemon icing is also a delicious way to top this cake. The combination of lemon, cinnamon, and cardamom is fantastic!
This coffee cake is a bit unusual in that the streusel is on the bottom, not sprinkled over the top of the cake. When baked on the bottom, streusel forms a delicious crust that tastes a bit like baking a cake on top of a soft and chewy cookie.
In this recipe, make the streusel first, sprinkling it and some chopped almonds over the bottom of the pan. Then layer the cake batter with cinnamon sugar to create a delicious cinnamon swirl in the center of the cake. Finally, top the cake with a drizzle of vanilla icing for a cake that's chewy, soft and fluffy, with a cinnamon swirl and warm vanilla flavor.
To make the streusel, add some cake flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon to the bowl of an electric mixer and stir to combine.
Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and add small pieces of cold butter. Mix on medium-low until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (You can also do this by pulsing the mixture in a food processor.)
Dump the streusel into a prepared springform pan. (Scroll down for how to prepare the pan so the cake won't stick.)
Smooth it into an even layer but DO NOT press it into the pan. Sprinkle the chopped almonds over the streusel and set the pan aside while you make the cake batter.
Add all the dry ingredients for the cake batter to a bowl and stir to mix. Add room temperature butter and use an electric mixer to mix until the mixture looks sandy.
Beat the buttermilk and vanilla into the batter.
With the mixer running on low speed, add one of the eggs. Increase the speed and beat for 30 seconds then repeat with the second and third eggs.
Spread half of the batter into the pan, spreading it over the streusel-almond crust. Mix some sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle it over the cake batter.
Spread the remaining batter over the cinnamon sugar.
Swirl a butter knife into the batter a few times to create a cinnamon sugar swirl. Be careful to just swirl the cake batter and not disturb the streusel and almond crust! Time to bake!
💭 Pro tip! How to prepare a springform pan so the cake won't stick:
- Use a paper towel to rub the inside of the pan with vegetable shortening or softened butter so the entire bottom and sides of the pan are coated.
- Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit over the bottom of the pan and press it into the pan. Smear the top of the parchment paper with a bit of vegetable shortening or butter.
- Sprinkle a tablespoon or so of flour into the pan and shake it around until the entire inside of the pan is coated with a thin layer of flour. Turn the pan over and tap out any excess flour. (More about how to keep cake from sticking to the pan.)
Let the cake cool inside the pan for a few minutes, then release the sides of the pan and allow the cake to cool completely. Whip up some simple vanilla glaze and drizzle it over the cake before serving.
How to Store this Cake
This coffee cake will keep well, tightly wrapped, for 48 hours. If you are making it a day or two before you plan to serve it, I suggest wrapping the un-iced cake tightly with plastic wrap or storing it in an airtight container. Top the cake with icing right before serving.
This cake will also freeze well for up to 3 months. Wrap the cake tightly with plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container. Freeze the cake without any icing.
Allow the cake to thaw at room temperature for at least 8 hours before topping it with icing and serving.
If you're a sourdough bread baker who is always on the hunt for delicious ways to use your sourdough discard, this sourdough coffee cake is a tender, slightly tangy, cinnamon and sugar soaked way to start your day.
If you give this recipe a try, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, or take a picture and tag it #ofbatteranddough on Instagram.
For the Streusel-Almond Crust:
- 1 ¼ cups (150 grams) cake flour
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons (75 grams) granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ cup (4 ounces/ 113 grams) cold butter, cut into ½ inch pieces (I used salted butter)
- 1 cup (100 grams) chopped roasted almonds
For the Buttermilk Coffee Cake:
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (225 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 cups (240 grams) of cake flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¾ cup (6 ounces/ 170 grams) butter, at room temperature (I used salted butter)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup (170 grams) buttermilk
- For the cinnamon swirl: ¼ cup (50 grams) sugar + 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- Top the cake with a drizzle of Simple Vanilla Icing
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C). Prepare a 9 or 10-inch springform pan as follows: Coat the inside of the pan with a thin layer of vegetable shortening or butter. Fit the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper and coat the top of the paper with vegetable shortening or butter. Shake some flour around in the pan so that the inside of the pan is completely coated. Shake out the excess flour. (More about how to keep cake from sticking to the pan.)
- Make the Streusel-Almond Crust: Add the cake flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon to the bowl of an electric mixer and stir to combine. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and add the butter. Mix on medium-low until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (Alternatively, pulse the butter and the dry ingredients in a food processor.) Dump the mixture into the prepared springform pan. Smooth it into an even layer but DO NOT press it into the pan. Sprinkle the chopped almonds over the streusel and set the pan aside.
- Make the Cake Batter: Add the sugar, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom to a mixing bowl. Stir to mix. Add the butter and use an electric mixer to mix until the mixture looks sandy.
- Pour the buttermilk and vanilla into the batter. Mix on low for 30 seconds then on medium for 30 seconds longer.
- Scrape down the bowl. With the mixer running on low speed, add 1 egg. Increase the speed and beat for 30 seconds. Repeat with the second and third eggs.
- In a small bowl, mix the ¼ cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon for the cinnamon swirl. Spread half the batter into the pan, spreading it over the streusel-almond crust. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Spread the remaining batter over the cinnamon sugar. Swirl a butter knife into the batter a few times to create a cinnamon sugar swirl; be careful to not disturb the streusel and almond crust.
- Set the pan on a baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven for 60 - 70 minutes. Check on the cake after it's been baking for 45 minutes or so. If the top is getting too brown, gently rest a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the cake. You might want to spray the foil with non-stick baking spray to keep it from sticking to the top of the cake. To know when the cake is done, insert a toothpick in the center and remove it. If there is no raw batter on the toothpick, the cake is done.
- Set the cake on a baking rack and allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Gently run a knife or flat metal spatula around the sides of the cake to loosen then remove the side of the pan. Allow the cake to cool completely before drizzling the top with vanilla glaze.
- If you do not have cake flour here's how to make a good substitute: For every cup of all-purpose flour, remove two tablespoons and replace them with cornstarch.
- The bake time for this cake will vary depending on altitude, humidity, and whether you use a 9-inch or 10-inch springform pan. It will also vary slightly from oven to oven. Watch the cake, check on it often, and be patient.
- No buttermilk? No problem. DIY Buttermilk: How to make your own
- Nutrition information does not include simple vanilla icing.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1/12th of the cake
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 506Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 565mgCarbohydrates: 60gFiber: 2gSugar: 29gProtein: 8g