Joe’s Request: Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Son Joe in the Czech Republic wants the recipe or my sour cream coffee cake. He’ll bake it as a birthday treat for Eva – his mother-in-law, who’s an incredible cook herself.

I’ve made this so often over the years that I can’t believe I’ve not shared it with you. The recipe card is so splattered and battered that it looks like a relic. A million years ago I found it in Bon Appetit’s R.S.V.P. section; a reader’s request for the sour cream coffee cake served at the Ramada Inn in Scottsburg, Indiana. This is my favorite thing to bake for a special breakfast.

Rich? Yes, it is rich. But come on, just a little sliver. And if you really want to shave off some calories, you can use non-fat sour cream, and low-fat margarine. <Yawn>

Or, you can make it like this and see what you think. I’m sharing with you exactly as I emailed it to Joe – asides and all. Happy baking, and happy birthday, Eva!


Image: Sour Cream Coffee Cake, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from kimberlykv’s photostream

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Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Pecan halves (to place in the bottom of the pan, but this is optional)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 c. white sugar
2 eggs
2 c. sifted cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts, or almonds, or whatever you have)
1/2 cup sugar
1 T cinnamon

Generously butter and flour (or spray with Pam) a Bundt pan (or any pan, preferable with a hole in the middle … if not, don’t sweat it … you can make this in a round cake pan … you’ll just have more batter and may have multiple, more shallow coffee cakes. Note that this stuff rises quite a bit, so if you use a cake pan, beware of spillage.

Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs. Set that bowl aside.

Sift the dry stuff together (I usually sift it onto one of those flexible cutting mats, then you can just make a spout of one end when you need to slowly add it to the wet stuff).

Gradually, with mixer running (or by and with a wooden spoon), add the dry stuff to the wet stuff, mixing well. Now fold in the vanilla and sour cream.

Sprinkle a few spoonfuls of the topping into the bottom of the pan. (Note, sometimes this topping in the bottom of the pan makes the cake stick … so, if I were you, to be safe, I’d leave the topping for the inside and make sure the pan is well-greased so the pan releases well.)

Dollop about 1/3 of the batter in the pan and spread it evenly around the pan. Sprinkle about between 1/3 and 1/2 of the topping over the batter. Carefully dollop more of the batter over the topping, using a spoon to carefully cover the topping without messing it up. Sprinkle almost the rest of the topping over that batter. Dollop the rest of the batter onto the topping. Finish with whatever topping remains (if any). (Note: If this business of too many layers bugs you, just do batter, topping, batter topping, and call it good.)

Bake in 350-degree oven for about 1 hour (but this is only if you have a deep Bundt pan … otherwise, you’ll want to check it sooner, like 25 minutes). Do the toothpick test to make sure the batter’s baked through.

Stand back and bask in the compliments.

doni-new-mugIndependent online journalist Doni Greenberg founded what’s now known as in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007, Greenberg was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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10 Responses

  1. Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

    This looks great!

    But using low-fat margarine may not be a good idea – those products tend to be really unpredictable when used for anything other than as a spread. (They're also kind of disgusting, but that's just my opinion.) If you're going to have sour cream coffee cake, go whole hog!

  2. Avatar Adrienne jacoby says:

    And Doni . . . . did we figure the points on Weight Watchers?? Well, I should HOPE NOT!!! That would totally miss the point. LOL!! Looks like a recipe well, WELL, worth saving!! Tanx!!

  3. Avatar Benita Epstein says:

    Thanks, Doni. Looks fabulous! Similar to my grandmother's.

  4. Avatar Kathy says:

    YUM…Looks great…Thanks, Doni!!!

  5. Avatar EasternShastaCounty says:

    When will you be able to bake this in the Pink House kitchen?

    • Doni Greenberg Doni Greenberg says:

      Ah, clever. Contractor heroes Ron and Dave have promised me I'll be in my house before Christmas. Fingers crossed. Can't wait.

  6. Avatar Shelley B. says:

    Doni, I made this for Thanksgiving morning.It was a hit. Thankyou for sharing

    this recipe. SB

  7. Avatar Pam H says:

    A co-worker brought this coffeecake to work some 30 years ago. Everyone asked for the recipe, and she copied it for us from the November 1976 issue of Bon Appetit. It was requested by reader Muriel Bickel of Delavan, Wisconsin, who wrote: "I recently had occasion to stop for breakfast at the Ramada Inn in Scottsburg, Indiana. The waitress was kind enough to recommend the sour cream coffee cake. I have never found a coffee cake anywhere that compares with this one. I would be so grateful if you could obtain the recipe for me." It has become a Christmas morning classic in our house. I now cut the recipe to 1/2 cup (or one stick) of butter. Also, I add only 1/1-2 cups of sugar, but 3 eggs and 1-1/2 tsp vanilla.

  8. Avatar Renee says:

    This looks delicious and I think I’ll try it for the weekend but I have a quick question. The photo above shows a drizzle on the coffee cake but the recipe doesn’t include it. Can you share that with us as well?