Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cinnamon-Pecan Coffee Cake

Warm from the oven . . . cinnamon, nuts, vanilla. A crunchy topping and moist dense cake. What's not to like?

Perfect any time of the year. For summer, serve with a side of fresh berries or peaches.

When I want a morning coffee cake, this is the recipe I use. It's totally uncomplicated and mixes up in a snap. The topping is sweet and crunchy and contrasts nicely with the moist, dense vanilla interior. It's perfect with that first cup of java or for a snack later on with a cold glass of milk.

For this cake, I used a 7-inch spring form pan. An 8 x 8 pan will work as well. If you double the ingredients, use a 13 x 9 pan or a large Bundt pan. Adjust baking times depending on what you use.


  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder*
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick's Apple Pie spice or one teaspoon cinnamon

In a small bowl, mix the topping ingredients until crumbly and pecans are coated. Set aside.

Mix together the flour, salt and baking powder on a sheet of wax paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter until fluffy. Mix in sour cream. Add sugars and beat on medium until fluffy and sugar is dissolved, 1-2 minutes. Add egg and beat on medium-low for 1-2 minutes. Stir in vanilla.

By hand, mix in the flour mixture just until well combined. Mixture will be thick. Pour into a buttered/sprayed pan (see above).

Sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar/butter/pecan mixture evenly over the cake.

Bake at 350 F degrees anywhere from 30-45 minutes depending on the size pan you use and until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. If necessary, loosely place a sheet of tin foil over cake the last ten minutes or so if you find the topping getting too dark. Allow to cool a bit before cutting.

*Just to be honest, I left out the baking powder when I made this batch ... just to see what would happen. And, guess what? Nothing happened. The cake rose nice and high ... but I did bake it in a smaller pan. And the texture was different ... a finer, dense crumb as opposed to a lighter, crumbly crumb. Next time I will just add 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon baking powder. 

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