If you’re preparing a weekend brunch, a homemade coffee cake is a must-make item. It’s a brunch staple because it is delicious – and this streusel-laden Vanilla Bean Coffee Cake is even more delicious than most. It is made with greek yogurt, which contributes to the dense, but tender, crumb of the cake and gives the cake a hint of tanginess that contrasts well with with vanilla in it. I have a hard time limiting myself to one slice when I bake up a batch of this cake, so I recommend cutting yours into smaller pieces to give yourself an excuse to go back for seconds – and to create some sharing opportunities so that you don’t eat the whole cake in one day.
I almost can’t say enough good things about this recipe. The cake itself is incredibly moist, with a soft and even crumb that supports the weight of a lot of streusel. Since I used real vanilla bean, the cake has a strong vanilla flavor and you’ll see little vanilla bean specks throughout the cake. If you don’t have any whole vanilla beans on hand, you can substitute in two teaspoons of vanilla extract to still give the cake a good vanilla flavor. You might also want to consider using something like vanilla bean paste, which has specks of vanilla bean in it and will give you a similar look to the one achieved with whole vanilla beans.
The streusel is made with butter and brown sugar, with a generous dose of cinnamon in the mix. The topping is still delicious even if you omit the cinnamon, which simply allows the brown sugar to be the dominant flavor, but the warm spiciness of the cinnamon gives this coffee cake a very classic overall flavor. Each piece has a great streusel-to-cake ratio, so you’ll get some of everything in each bite.
Since this cake is nice and moist, it will keep well for several days after baking if it is stored in an airtight container. This means that you can easily bake the cake the night before your brunch is scheduled. That said, it is ready to eat as soon as it has cooled down, so you can also bake it the morning you intend to serve it if you have the time! As with most coffee cakes, this one is outstanding when served with a good cup or coffee or a brunch cocktail.
Vanilla Bean Yogurt Coffee Cake
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 cup plain, greek-style yogurt (full fat or nonfat)
1/2 cup milk (any kind)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Make the cake batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Blend in eggs one at a time. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise using a sharp knife, then use the back of the knife to scrape out the vanilla bean seeds. Add to butter mixture and blend until the vanilla bean flecks are well distributed.
In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together yogurt and milk.
Stir 1/3 of the flour mixture into the butter mixture, followed by half of the yogurt mixture. Stir in an additional 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by the rest of the yogurt mixture. Stir in remaining dry ingredients and mix until no streaks of flour are visible. Pour into prepared pan. Set aside while you prepare the streusel.
Make the streusel: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, brown sugar, salt and ground cinnamon. Pour in butter and vanilla and, using a fork, stir until the mixture has the consistency of wet sand. Grab the streusel mixture in your hands and squeeze to create clumps of streusel. Sprinkle streusel mixture evenly over the top of the cake batter.
Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan before slicing. Store leftovers in an airtight container.