Coffee Cake: Simply Classic


Sometimes it is easy to forget about the classics. We get enamored with all the bells and whistles that come with the arrival of the next big thing. This happens with cars, fashion, houses, and even food.

I am frequently told, "I can't bake."

Well, I beg to differ. I always suggest that we start with the basics, or really the classics, to get a feel of how things are done. Form a good base of knowledge, and then build from there.

Today I am sharing one of the easiest recipes for a new baker: Classic Coffee Cake. Funny thing is, this has always been my go-to recipe for this brunch favorite.

Add berries if you like, but what makes this coffee cake so good is its enduring, classic taste and look.


Classic Coffee Cake

For the cake

1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup sour cream

For the topping

3 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3 sticks of room temperature butter

In a medium sized bowl combine all the ingredients. Working with your fingers, mix the butter and sugar until large clumps form. Set aside. 

To make the cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan by buttering it.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and mix again, assuring that the butter and sugar are incorporated. Add eggs one at a time, making sure that they are fully mixed in before adding the next egg. Add vanilla extract. Next add half the flour mixture, mix, and then add all of the sour cream, ending with the remaining flour. Mix until everything is nicely combined.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Smooth out with a spatula. Sprinkle the topping over the batter. Bake for about 40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
Dust with powdered sugar and serve!


Andrea Charroin was a trained baker and pastry chef in San Francisco before she and her family moved to Redding 11 years ago. After falling in love with Redding’s downtown, Andrea and husband Westley opened a little pastry shop, Rene-Joule Patisserie, across from the Cascade Theatre. For the three years Rene-Joule was in business, it was renowned for making everything from scratch, using the best ingredients and keeping with a seasonal menu. To this day, Andrea is asked about her Marathon Bars, Orange Twists and sourdough bread.

Copyright 2009 Andrea R. Charroin. Visit her blog at

Andrea Charroin
Andrea Charroin is a trained baker and pastry chef. She worked in San Francisco before she, her husband, Westley, and their two sons moved to Redding. They fell in love with Redding’s downtown and opened a little pastry shop, Rene-Joule Patisserie.
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6 Responses

  1. This looks sooo good. I think I would add fruit like you suggested.

  2. Mom says:

    How could you go wrong with that "secret ingredient"….butter. Sounds like a winner for my next brunch.

  3. Alice Bell says:

    How many berries would you add? A cup or so?

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Alice, thanks for reading!
      I would add a cup cup and a half of berries. I just saw some beautiful organic raspberries at Safeway that would be a delight!

  4. Larry says:

    boy o boy…just when I can't eat anything, you come up with another winning recipe.

  5. Joy says:


    Wonderful food photos – you are great baker and photographer !

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