Southern Living's Cinnamon Coffee Cake Recipe: Just Like Grandma Used to Make by Ann Marie Patitucci

Southern Living's Cinnamon Coffee Cake Recipe: Just Like Grandma Used to Make

I have a soft spot for coffee cake for a couple of reasons. First, I remember eating this cake a lot when I was a kid. Also, who doesn’t like a dessert that is served morning, noon and night? Coffee cake is the perfect excuse to have dessert for breakfast, to have an afternoon snack or as a post-dinner dessert. If you always find yourself needing more coffee (like myself and the Gilmore Girls!), then the cake is a perfect excuse to have a cup. On the other hand, if you have a sweet tooth, then maybe you just need to have a little something to snack on with your afternoon caffeine.

Southern Living recently released their list of “Dessert Recipes Just Like Grandma Used to Make” and this cinnamon coffee cake recipe made the cut. According to the magazine, this coffee cake is a favorite among their test kitchen staff members. Now that’s an endorsement.

We hope this recipe brings back sweet memories of spending time in your grandma's kitchen. Remember that grandma didn’t need a special occasion to whip up one of her delicious desserts – and neither do you.

Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes plus 3 hours to chill 
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours and 15 minutes
Servings: Makes 1 cake


  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 1/2 cups cake flour (divided), plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar (divided)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (divided)
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • shortening, for greasing pan

Here’s how to make it:

  1. In a bowl, stir together pecans, cinnamon, 1 cup of the flour, 1 cup of the brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Add chilled butter pieces. Pinch and smear the mixture between your fingers until butter is evenly incorporated and mixture starts to “clump” together. Cover and chill until ready to use, a minimum of 3 hours and up to 24 hours.
  2. Beat softened butter, granulated sugar and remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed. Beat until light and fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each additional egg. Stir in the vanilla.
  3. In a bowl, stir together baking powder, baking soda and remaining 2 1/2 cups flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the baking powder mixture to the softened butter mixture alternately with sour cream in 3 separate additions; begin and end with baking powder mixture, beating on low speed until just combined after each addition of sour cream.
  4. Lightly grease a 10-inch tube pan with shortening (or alternative), then dust with flour. Spoon half of the sour cream batter into prepared pan. Top with half of the pecan mixture. Repeat layers once using remaining sour cream batter and pecan mixture. 
  5. Bake in preheated 350-degree F oven until a toothpick inserted in center of the cake comes out clean, about 45 to 55 minutes, tenting with foil after 35 minutes if needed to prevent excessive browning. Keep cake in pan and cool (ideally on a wire rack) for 15 minutes. Then invert cake onto wire rack and let cool completely, about 2 hours.

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Tube Pans $10 & Up
Pecans $4 & Up
Cinnamon $3 & Up
Vanilla Extract $4 & Up
Cake Flour $3 & Up
Brown Sugar $2 & Up

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Bill Heleine
That looks just YUMMY!
Elisa Schmitz
I know, right? The ultimate coffee cake. Just pure old-fashioned yumminess!

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