Sunday Morning Coffeecake

Sunday Morning Coffeecake

The hubby is British. Born and raised in the north of England with an Irish mother and an English father. One of the best bits of being married to a person from another culture is all the hilarious misunderstandings we’ve had over the years. And I even spent significant portions of my childhood in England and lived with him in Ireland and England as an adult. So, I’m pretty well versed in his culture. I can only imagine how much more extreme the hilarity is with more divergent cultures.

Anyway, we are frequently entertained by misunderstood words, phrases, food and pop culture references. He tells a great version of the story from our first month in the US when the pipes froze during the longest cold stretch we’ve seen in all our years here. We’d just bought a 200+ year old building, been here a month, were spending every penny on various construction projects and so were saving every other penny we could on things like heat. Turns out you can run the heat too low. It also helps to know the building you’re dealing with, so you know which corner is the north corner where the bathroom pipes run too close to the exterior wall and the faucets should be put on to drip a little for the overnights when the temperature is holding well below zero. But, you’re here one month and you don’t know these things. So your pipes freeze. And then they burst. And then you have water flowing in all the wrong places. And, naturally, this kind of thing only happens in the middle of the night. So you find yourself running around all four floors of your inn with several plumbers at 3 AM trying to figure out where the water is coming from. You might then find yourself behind the enormous industrial refrigerator because you’ve finally located that cold north corner and all those burst pipes and you can’t really see what you’re doing so you are yelling at this plumber you don’t know (though over the next number of years you will become very good friends) for a ‘torch’. And he and his buddies are looking at each other trying to figure out why you are going to try and burn the place down right now. Until your multi-lingual wife figures out that he really wants a flashlight, and that make a whole lot more sense to everyone.

The list of misunderstandings is endless. The game of finding them can be fun. You know another one? Coffeecake. Coffeecake doesn’t taste like coffee. Of course, you say, it’s to be eaten with coffee. It’s a morning treat. But when it’s 7am and you are driving (very, very jet lagged) from Denver up into the mountains and you hop out of the car to get two cups of coffee and something to share and come back with a coffeecake muffin and you start driving again and your husband takes a bite of the muffin you’ve handed him and looks at you incredulously and says, ‘I don’t taste the coffee’ – you are just a little worried you will veer off the road if the two of you don’t pull it together. Between the explaining and the laughing and the yelling about inaccurate use of language – really, the fun never stops.

All of that aside, the hubby is a convert to coffeecake. He just wishes we’d call it something else. During my innkeeping life I liked to make coffeecake for Sunday mornings, when almost everyone is happy for just a bit more luxury. You’re staying at a B&B, breakfast is a bit of a luxury any morning. Of course you don’t eat like this every day. (I live here and I don’t eat like this every day, I’ve usually had yogurt and fruit hours ago.) Sundays at an inn, you’re going to have pancakes, there will be maple sausages, you’ll say yes to a slice of coffeecake, you’ll linger over another cup of coffee. Sunday mornings aren’t your bran muffin mornings. (I’m just realizing there might be a whole field of study in the psychology of food choices.) I am always a sucker for a new coffeecake recipe, but this is my tried and true bestie, the one I return to every time. It has never failed me.

Recipe credit goes to The Back In The Day Bakery Cookbook. (Another field of study idea: Visiting all the bakeries whose cookbooks I love. Yummmmmm.)

Sunday Morning Coffeecake


For the Streusel

  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans toasted
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter cold, cut into small cubes

For the Cake

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 10 inch tube pan (angel food cake pan) and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Make the streusel first

  1. First, you'll want to toast your pecans. (Place them on a baking tray in your preheating oven for about 10 minutes.) In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Cut the butter in with a pastry cutter, or your fingers, until you have pea-sized crumbs. Toss in the cooled, chopped pecans. Put bowl in the freezer while you mix the cake batter.

For the cake

  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom. Set aside.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar for 4-5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla and sour cream and mix just until blended.

  3. Add the flour mixture in three parts, mixing on low after each addition, just until no streaks of flour are visible.

  4. Scrape half the batter into the tube pan and spread it evenly. Sprinkle with 3/4 cups of the streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter on top and smooth again. Top with the remaining streusel.

  5. Bake for 50-60 minutes.

  6. Let cake cool for 30 minutes before turning it out of the pan.

Recipe Notes

You can easily leave out the nuts if you have no-nut people around.

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