What is coffee cake?

Coffee Cake with Strawberry Jam Swirl

Coffee cake is a moist, tender cake that is usually topped with some kind of streusel topping and served alongside coffee or tea at breakfast. Coffee cakes stand apart from other cakes because of their streusel topping and because, although they might have a little glaze drizzled on top, they are not frosted. Some have a swirl of streusel in them, and others are filled with fruit, nuts or chocolate. in A coffee cake might have coffee in it, but the name comes from the fact that it is served with coffee, not because it has coffee in it.

I probably get more questions about coffee cake than any other type of cake. The name is a bit confusing, if coffee cake isn’t something that is common in your area. It’s a very American kind of cake and you don’t see it many other places in the world, unless you do a lot of baking or go into a shop that specializes in American baked goods. If you do live somewhere where coffee cakes are not common, you may be more familiar with a concept like tea cakes, which are cakes that are usually served with tea but do not necessarily contain tea. The concept is exactly the same.

Coffee cakes are popular because they are easy to make and taste great. Unlike a frosted cake, a coffee cake comes out of the oven ready to eat with its topping already in place. I tend to make them for brunches and other occasions when I might have a group to entertain for breakfast, but they’re just as good when served to family on the weekends. Some of my favorite coffee cake recipes include:

6 comments

  1. I love making coffee cakes–easy but everyone always loves them. Breakfast, brunch, snack, even dessert–great way to use some local fresh ingredients like berries or seasonal items like apples or pumpkin. I’m wanting to try that one with the sweet potatoes and cranberries–sounds good!

  2. If I could just figure out the recipe for Entenmann’s Pecan Danish Ring Coffee Cake, I’d die a happy man.

  3. i just watched the Cake Boss from last season where he made a crumb cake and put left over cake hunks into the crumb topping…I nearly jumped through the TV (or drove to NJ to get a piece!!)

  4. Coffee cake is more than enough reason for me to love drinking coffee=)

  5. I like coffee cake because it’s not like traditional cake, not super sweet, no icing. It’s a good treat.

  6. Tracy, I agree! The way is see it, coffee cake is a great excuse to drink coffee, and coffee is an even greater excuse to eat coffee cake!

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