Recipe Review

King Arthur’s Coffee Cake Is the Coffee Cake to End All Coffee Cakes (It Even Has a Gooey Filling)

published Mar 17, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

King Arthur Baking Company is a great source for baking ingredients, baking gear, and solid, well-tested baking recipes. They’ve been included in many of our showdowns, and have taken home the top prize for apple pie, waffles, and birthday cake. So when I was on the hunt for coffee cake recipes, I knew I had to see what they had to offer.

At first glance, I was immediately impressed. The cake looked tender with a gooey cinnamon and brown sugar center, and plenty of buttery crumble topping. Basically, it looked like everything one could want from a coffee cake — and then some. With more than 500 reviews and a five-star overall rating, it seemed that other cooks were impressed, too. I was excited to give it a try in my own kitchen.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

How to Make King Arthur Baking Company’s Cinnamon-Streusel Coffee Cake

In all honesty, this recipe is a bit of a kitchen buster. I’m just warning you now: You will use every mixing bowl in your kitchen. That’s because it calls for making a cake batter, streusel top, and cinnamon filling all separately. That being said, it’s not difficult in the least — just messy. 

Start by making the topping by combining white sugar, salt, flour, cinnamon, and melted butter. I was a bit stunned by the amount of cinnamon in this recipe. If you’re used to dessert recipes calling for max a teaspoon of cinnamon, look again. This recipe calls for tablespoons, and a few at that, with a whole tablespoon just in the topping. Stir the mixture until a crumble forms, then set aside.

To make the filling, combine brown sugar, more cinnamon, and a small amount of cocoa powder for color. Set that aside while you make the cake. Cream together softened butter, brown sugar, white sugar, baking powder, vanilla, and salt until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl, whisk together sour cream and milk. Add flour to the wet ingredients, alternating with the sour cream mixture, until combined.

Add half of the cake batter to a greased 9×13-inch baking pan and spread in an even layer. Top with the filling mixture and gently swirl with a knife. Top with the remaining batter, spread evenly, and top with the crumble topping. Bake until the edges are browned and set and a tester comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Make sure to use a cake tester or skewer, as the cake is too tall for a toothpick, and note that you may see some of the gooey filling on the tester. As long as there’s no wet, opaque batter, you’re good to go.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

My Honest Review of King Arthur Baking Company’s Cinnamon-Streusel Coffee Cake

I enjoyed making the recipe until I slid the cake into the oven. Then I looked around at all of the dirty dishes and thought, “This had better be worth it.” When I pulled the cake out of the oven an hour later, I was intoxicated by its scent and pretty crumble top. And when I sliced into it about an hour after that, I had my answer: It was definitely worth it.

While making a separate streusel, filling, and cake batter is a bit tedious compared to some other coffee cake recipes, the King Arthur recipe developers did this for good reason. By separating out the elements, they could make the best possible version of each thing. This means the topping is perfectly sweet and buttery and crisp, the cake is moist and fluffy, and the ripple in the middle is gooey and cinnamony, like the swirl of a good cinnamon roll.

The recipe also makes a big, substantial cake that could serve a small army, so after all of the hard work cleaning the kitchen you’ll get the most bang for the buck. It’s also rare to see a single-layer rectangular cake that’s this stunning. Thanks to plenty of crumble top and that brown sugar ripple, this coffee cake looks lovely whole and cut, and is sure to impress anyone lucky enough to get a slice.

A Few Tips for Making King Arthur Baking Company’s Cinnamon-Streusel Coffee Cake

  1. Reduce the brown sugar. My only complaint about this cake is that it is especially sweet. Not sickeningly sweet, just a little sweeter than I’d like. Then I saw that King Arthur Baking Company included a tip in the headnote that you can reduce the brown sugar in the filling. If you don’t have a giant sweet tooth and are OK with the filling being less gooey, I’d recommend reducing the brown sugar.
  2. Use dark brown sugar. The recipe calls for dark or light brown sugar for the filling, but go for dark brown sugar if you have it. It adds an extra bit of richness.
  3. Weigh your ingredients. If you have a kitchen scale (which I highly recommend), King Arthur includes weights for most of the ingredients, speeding up the prep time and ensuring success.

Rating: 10/10