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Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl

This Sour Cream Coffee Cake With Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl is light and fluffy, layered with a rich cinnamon and chocolate swirl, and topped with an irresistible crumble. It’s the best coffee cake ever!

Sour cream coffee cake square on plate

The Best Sour Cream Coffee Cake Recipe

Now, I don’t like to throw around the word “best” when it comes to my recipes. That’s a high bar! But this really is the best coffee cake ever—at least, if I were the judge, it would be my number one choice. It’s amazingly soft and light, just a touch tangy thanks to the sour cream, and it has layers of chocolate and cinnamon, which is such an under-rated combination of flavors. (Try it in my Double Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan Brownies, too!)

Oh, and I can’t forget the crumb topping! It’s buttery, sweet, nutty, salty, and all-around delightful.

I first made this coffee cake for a brunch with friends. The eight of us nearly devoured the entire thing. I made it again just to prove to myself that it was really as good as I thought it was the first time. As I sit here thoroughly enjoying a slice, I can tell you that it most definitely is the best coffee cake ever.

Overhead view of ingredients for sour cream coffee cake with chocolate cinnamon swirl

What You’ll Need

This is one of those recipes with a long list of ingredients, but once you cross out everything you have in your pantry already, you’ll see that it’s quite short!

For the crumb topping:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Brown sugar – You can use dark or light brown sugar in this recipe; dark brown sugar imparts a stronger molasses flavor.
  • Salt
  • Pecans – Toasted if you like! (See notes below)
  • Unsalted butter – Cold butter is key! Pop it in the freezer for a bit if you need to.

For the swirl:

  • Granulated sugar
  • Dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Cinnamon

For the cake:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter – The butter should be softened, but not warm.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Eggs – The eggs should be room temperature.
  • Sour cream – The sour cream should be room temperature, too.
  • Vanilla extract

How to Toast Pecans

You can toast the pecans on a parchment-lined sheet pan in a 350ºF oven for about 10 minutes, watching carefully to make sure they don’t burn. Or, if you prefer to be more hands on, you can toast them in a skillet set over medium heat; simply use your eyes and nose instead of a timer and remove them from the heat when they’re fragrant and browned.

How to Make Sour Cream Coffee Cake With Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl

Make sure you set aside some time to bake this coffee cake! It’s not something you can whip up on a busy weekday morning, but it is perfect for a weekend breakfast.

Make the crumb topping and swirl:

Pulse the dry ingredients. Add the flour, brown sugar, and salt to the bowl of a food processor and pulse for a few seconds until everything’s mixed. Add the pecans, then pulse again until the pecans are finely chopped and incorporated into the other ingredients.

Finish. Add the butter to the food processor and pulse until the mixture is coarse and sand-like. Cover and refrigerate.

Make the swirl. Whisk the sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon in a small bowl; set it aside for later.

Make the cake:

Prepare. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9″x 13″x 2″ baking pan with butter.

Mix the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. 

Mix the wet ingredients. Use an electric hand mixer or stand mixer to beat the butter until it’s smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the sugar, and beat until the mixture is fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then scrape the sides again and mix for another 30 seconds.

Combine wet and dry ingredients. Add the sour cream and vanilla to the bowl with the butter and eggs, and beat just until combined. Beat in the flour mixture in 3 portions, scraping the sides of the bowl if needed. 

Assemble and finish:

Assemble the cake. Pour one-third of the cake batter into the prepared pan and use a rubber spatula to make sure it’s spread evenly. Sprinkle half of the swirl mixture over the batter, then spread half of the remaining batter over the swirl mixture. Follow this with the remaining swirl mixture, spreading it evenly over the batter, then add the rest of the batter and spread that evenly, too. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the batter.

Bake. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 60 to 70 minutes, rotating the pan 3 times during baking. When the cake is done, a wooden pick inserted into the center should come out clean.

Overhead view of coffee cake in pan after baking

Cool. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before serving. (Learn more: Why Every Baker Needs Wire Cooling Racks)

Coffee cake in metal baking pan

Tips for Success

Here are some tips for making the perfect sour cream coffee cake.

  • Using yogurt instead of sour cream. Can you do it? Yes! I recommend using a full-fat plain Greek yogurt, which is closest in texture to sour cream.
  • Weigh the ingredients. This always yields the best results. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, use the spoon-and-sweep method. Learn more: How to Measure Flour
  • Don’t over-mix. To get that lovely, light texture, mix each addition until just combined. It’s better to have a streak or two of flour in the batter than to over-mix and end up with a tough cake.
Overhead view of coffee cake squares on plates

How to Store

Store this sour cream coffee cake at room temperature in a tightly sealed container for up to 3 days.

Can This Cake Be Frozen?

Yes, you can freeze this recipe! Wrap the cake tightly and freeze it for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat it, you can simply let it thaw on the countertop overnight.

Closeup of sour cream coffee cake on plate

Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl

Yield 18 to 24 servings
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes

This light, moist Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl is perfect for breakfast, dessert, or any time in between!

Closeup of sour cream coffee cake on plate

Ingredients

For the crumb topping:

  • 3/4 cup (90g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (150g) firmly packed brown sugar (dark or light)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup pecans, toasted
  • 6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, cold & cut into 1-inch cubes

For the swirl:

  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the cake:

  • 3 & 1/2 cups (420g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened but cool, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 & 1/4 cups (450g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 16 ounces (454g) sour cream
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

To make the crumb topping:

  1. Place the flour, brown sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds to mix. Add the pecans, and pulse until the pecans are finely chopped and thoroughly mixed.
  2. Add the butter and pulse until combined. The mixture should look like coarse sand. Cover and refrigerate.

To make the swirl:

  1. Whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon. Set aside.

To make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9"x 13"x 2" baking pan.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the sugar, and beat until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the sides again and mix for another 30 seconds.
  4. Add the sour cream and vanilla, and mix just until combined. Add the flour mixture in 3 portions, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Mix each addition just until combined. Do not overmix.

To assemble the cake:

  1. Pour one-third of the cake batter into prepared pan. Spread evenly.
  2. Sprinkle half of the swirl mixture evenly over the batter.
  3. Spread half of the remaining batter evenly over the swirl mixture.
  4. Sprinkle the remaining swirl mixture evenly over batter.
  5. Spread the remaining batter evenly over the swirl mixture.
  6. Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the batter.
  7. Bake for 60-70 minutes, rotating the pan 3 times during baking. A pick inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean.
  8. Cool the cake in pan on wire rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  9. Store any leftovers at room temperature in a tightly sealed container for up to 3 days.

Notes

Recipe slightly adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking.

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    25 Comments on “Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl”

  1. I love a good coffee cake! Can’t wait to try this one!

  2. This looks AMAZING! I have company coming this weekend and will be putting this together!

  3. Come to momma! The texture of the cake looks amazing!

  4. It looks so light! And crumble makes everything better!

  5. I’m just going to come out and say that this certainly looks like the best coffee cake ever. Love that thick crumble on top too! Must must MUST try.

  6. Oh yum, your cake sounds so delicious!

  7. Coffee cake with cinnamon, crumbs & sour cream…..with a little chocolate bonus. I will cut the recipe in half & bake in an 8×8 pan & hope mine turns out to be the best coffee cake ever.

  8. This might have to be my break my gluten free lenten resolution recipe for Easter Sunday morning.

  9. This coffee cake truly looks beautiful. If I didn’t already have a chocolate cake sitting on my kitchen table, I might whip one up right now!

  10. This sounds like my kind of coffee cake. I love sour cream in baked goods, and the cinnamon and chocolate in the swirl sounds amazing!

  11. The chocolate-cinnamon swirl looks divine! Lovely crumb topping.

  12. I am going to have to try this beautiful cake. But I’ll have to substitute yogurt instead. Its either that or I make my own sour cream. I hope it works! 🙂

  13. Usually its the crumb topping that makes me love coffee cake but your recipe has the chocolate-cinnamon swirl going for it as well! I will be serving this with coffee soon!

  14. I love coffee cake! I have a huge list of ones I want to try but if you say this is the best coffee cake ever, it has just moved to the top of my list!

  15. Love, love, love crumb cake. I just posted a version on my blog. The cinnamon swirl in yours sounds great!

  16. This does sound like the best coffee cake ever!

  17. I made this coffee cake and brought it to the office. I am a huge fan of coffee cake and this one is amazing. Everyone in the office loved it. I am so glad I saved a piece for myself.

  18. This cake was AMAZING! It was not fun to make but it was completely worth the effort. The texture is like a light banana bread. I left mine in for 55 minutes which was too long and the edges burnt so DEFINITELY watch the time.

  19. This was extremely good! My husband loves it and even the kids! I did not do the nuts in the topping because hubby is not a fan of that and he is the one who requested this. I also used unsweetened applesauce in place of the eggs. This turned out super moist as well!

  20. I believe this is the recipe from the “Baked”   Cookbook from the bakery in NY,  It’s really great as is everything in their book.

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