Old Fashioned Coffee Cake Recipe

It’s a staple brunch treat! My Mom’s Classic Coffee Cake is a tried and true recipe and is exactly what you’d expect. It’s fluffy, soft, sweet, moist, and topped with a sweet cinnamon streusel. Simple, easy, and so delicious.

two pieces of coffee cake stacked on a plate.

It’s finally here! After posting on my Instagram stories a poll to see whether or not you all wanted my Mom’s Classic Coffee Cake recipe, and the results were a resounding YES, here it is! This is the coffee cake of my childhood. Every single holiday, from Mother’s Day to Christmas my mom always had this classic coffee cake waiting for us. It’s so incredibly easy to make and so moist and fluffy. No dense dry crumb cake here – this one is a tried and true loved and devoured coffee accompaniment dream.

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What is Coffee Cake?

My husband’s exact question to me when I started making this recipe. Having not grown up with it, his experiences with it were what he saw with the other pastries behind the glass at a local coffee shop. Very simply, a classic coffee cake is a single-layer cake that’s made from flour, butter, and sugar and served with coffee or tea. No coffee in it, just the perfect simple sweet cake to serve with it. Crumb Cake is another kind of cake similar to coffee cake, but it typically has a much thicker layer of streusel on top of the cake, while most coffee cakes, like my mom’s, have a much greater cake to streusel ratio.

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While the traditional cake baking in this house is usually done by my husband, My Mom’s Classic Coffee Cake is so simple and easy to make that anyone can make it!

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Ingredients Needed

I bet you already have everything you need in your pantry, for this one.

  • Flour – We use all-purpose flour for this recipe, but you could also use your favorite gluten-free flour, too!
  • Sugar – A white granulated is best for this recipe.
  • Butter – We use salted butter, but if all you have is unsalted, that’s fine, too. Then we would just suggest adding a pinch of kosher salt to the recipe.
  • Eggs – Essential for providing the necessary structure for the cake.
  • Milk – We use 2% because that’s what we always have on hand, but you could also use 1% or whole milk, too.
  • Vanilla Extract – Have you made your own, yet?
  • Baking Powder – The coffee cake’s leavening agent.
  • Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Nutmeg – For your sweet cinnamon streusel!

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Step-by-Step Instructions

a bowl with sugar and butter and then a bowl with it all creamed.

Cream your butter and sugar

This is one of the most important steps to ensuring that your coffee cake has the right light and fluffy texture. Creaming adds little pockets of air and that aeration is what gives it that perfect texture. We use our favorite hand mixer for this, but you can also use your stand mixer or get a great arm workout in by doing it by hand with a fork.

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Tips for Creaming Butter and Sugar

flour being sifted into a bowl and then a hand mixing it into crumbles.

Add sifted flour and baking powder and create a fine crumb

Is sifting the flour a requirement? No. There are some arguments about whether or not sifting flour is even worth the effort. For this classic coffee cake where fluffy is the goal, in my opinion, any additional aeration is worth it. Plus, you don’t need a special flour sifter (although they are pretty cool), all you really need is a fine-mesh sieve.

Another bonus of sifting is then the flour will be nice and light and perfect for mixing it into the creamed butter and sugar to a fine crumb mixture. I find that using your hands for this step is the easiest.

a bowl of crumbly dough and a smaller bowl next to it over a bowl of dough, eggs, and vanilla extract, and then a bowl with it all mixed together.

Set aside some of the crumbs and then finish the batter

Once you’ve created a nice fine crumbed mixture, reserve some for your streusel, and then finish making the batter by adding the milk, whisked eggs, and vanilla extract.

a bowl of cinnamon crumble and a pan with batter being spread in.

Create streusel and add batter to the pan

Grease a baking pan well and add your batter, then with the reserved crumbs, make a super easy cinnamon sugar crumble topping.

two pans, one of an unbaked streusel topped coffee cake and the other baked.


You can make this in either a 9X13 pan or an 8X8 for thicker slices. Personally, I prefer the thicker pieces as it makes this classic coffee cake feel much more like a nice big piece of cake.

a piece of coffee cake coming out of a tray.

Absolutely perfect with your favorite cup of coffee or tea!

a thick slice of coffee cake on a plate.

Mom’s Classic Coffee Cake, it’s nothing super fancy or crazy, but instead, it’s a basic but absolutely delicious coffee cake that’s fluffy and soft and has all of the sweet sugary cinnamon flavors you want from a big ol’ slice.

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two pieces of coffee cake stacked on a plate.

Or two!

This recipe is great to make ahead or freeze, and it’ll always be welcome at any brunch gathering. Add your own flair by finishing it with your favorite icing, too. Add your own twists or keep my Mom’s Classic Coffee Cake as it is, no matter what you do, enjoy! And as always, if you make this recipe or any of my others, I love to hear what you think. Leave a comment below, email me, or you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!