Sour Cream Coffee Cake (Make-Ahead!)

Make-Ahead Sour Cream Coffee Cake - perfect for Christmas morning | Design Mom

Make-Ahead Sour Cream Coffee Cake - perfect for Christmas morning | Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos by Liz Berget for Design Mom.

The other day I was brainstorming what kind of content might be most helpful to you this week. Because it’s an odd sort of week. Christmas isn’t until Friday, but some school districts are already out for Christmas break. Businesses have odd hours this week and people are traveling. Some people will work their regular hours pretty much all week, others are using up the rest of their vacation days and (hopefully!) slept in this morning.

Food changes this week too, because schedules are off. Staying up late, sleeping in, no lunchtime in the cafeteria. Wednesday might feel like Saturday, Friday could feel like Sunday.

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So I thought a brunch recipe would be ideal! Something that would be yummy to eat on a late morning, or pretty much any time of day, or even late at night after a gift-wrapping session. Something that you could make ahead and have ready for guests. Something low stress.

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I went to Liz Berget and asked for suggestions. She offered up this coffee cake recipe and now we all get to enjoy it! Coffee cake is one of my weekend favorites. Though I’m not a coffee drinker, I grew up in a family who made coffee cake almost every weekend. I love to eat it, and appreciate the fact that it’s cake you can legitimately serve for breakfast. : ) This sour cream version sounds pretty much heavenly. I can’t wait to try it!

What about you? What will you be eating this week? Are you a coffee cake fan? Any recipes that you save specifically for the December holidays? Please tell!

Make-Ahead Sour Cream Coffee Cake | Design Mom

Here’s what Liz says:

With Christmas at the end of the week, the hustle and bustle of the season seems to be drowning out the jingle and jangle of sleigh bells…at least in our house. As much as I hate to admit it, we’re definitely still finishing up our Christmas shopping, and not one gift is wrapped yet. It’s been a busy month, and I’m so looking forward to next week, when time seems to slow for a while.

For this season of life, we are the ones who travel for Christmas. We spend a few days with my family, and then with my husband’s, both out of town for us. We tally a total of about twenty hours of driving around Christmas and New Year’s, and when you’re in the car that long, time slows. The car offers few options: reading, podcasts, music, talking, and naps. And the occasional stop for donuts when the one-year-old can’t sit still anymore.

Make-Ahead Sour Cream Coffee Cake | Design Mom

Time slows when family gathers. We pull out board games that have been gathering dust, and nights stretch on as I find myself going to bed later because I can’t get away from the Christmas lights. Because my children are small, we still get up by 7 a.m., but in return, we have eight gloriously guaranteed days to have our favorite dad and husband home all day. After all our driving, once we arrive, we don’t get in the car for days, only leaving the house to tromp in the snow, or in this year’s case, the mud.

Make-Ahead Sour Cream Coffee Cake | Design Mom

But the pace of slow holiday mornings might be the best part. There’s nowhere to be, nowhere to go. Granted, I’m a stay-at-home mom, so technically, all of my mornings could look like this, but you and I both know they don’t. There are zoos to be visited, and music classes starting at 9:00, and grocery shopping to do, and definitely not any grandmas around to help get everyone breakfast.

But next week? There will be many, many cups of coffee, and pancakes and egg bake, and leisurely breakfasts left and right. I’m not sure what your Christmas morning entails, but I hope it involves a slow and delicious breakfast.

Make-Ahead Sour Cream Coffee Cake | Design Mom

This coffee cake is a regular in my family, for almost all occasions (like hey! it’s Saturday!). And it’s one of my favorite brunch items. It’s a simple sour cream coffee cake — not overly sweet, and so super moist from the sour cream. There’s also a double layer of pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon inside. Because we are gluttons, we like to add a buttery, sugary glaze to an already buttery, sugary cake, and trust me, the holiday calories are worth it.

What makes this such a holiday brunch winner is that it can be made ahead and still fool your guests into thinking you were up at 4 a.m. baking. You can make it the day ahead of your brunch. Cooled completely and wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, you’re not losing any moistness or flavor. Alternately, this cake can be made weeks ahead of any event and frozen. It still has the taste and texture of a freshly made coffee cake once thawed and glazed.

Make-Ahead Sour Cream Coffee Cake | Design Mom

I hope for me, and for you…that this coming holiday week holds all the slowness of time that it should. And I hope for me, and for you…that slow breakfasts involve this coffee cake with many, many cups of coffee.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

yields 1 bundt-pan-sized coffee cake

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
cooking spray

1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons brown sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon

2 tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup powdered sugar, sifted*
¾ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ tablespoon hot water*
(*may need more of either of these to achieve a smooth, pourable consistency)

Preheat oven to 350*.
LIBERALLY grease the bundt pan. I spray mine with cooking spray and then use a greased paper towel to wipe the spray into every nook and cranny of the pan. Twice. Don’t be shy about greasing the pan!

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy.

2. Add and thoroughly beat in the eggs and vanilla.

3. Fold in the sour cream.

4. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into the sour cream batter. Fold in the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined

Mix together the pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl, and set aside.

1. Spread a scant 1/3 of the batter into the bottom of the prepared bundt pan (a rubber spatula works great for this).

2. Sprinkle half of the filling over that.

3. Then spread another 1/3 of the batter on top of the 2 layers you already have. (This can be tricky…some of the filling mixture will mix into the batter…that’s okay. Just try to spread an even amount of the batter all around the bundt pan.)

4. Cover this layer of batter by sprinkling the rest of the filling mixture over it.

5. Spread the final 1/3 of your batter over the top. Do your best to smooth the batter around evenly. (I then wipe off any rogue batter on top or center of the bundt pan with a paper towel so it won’t burn).

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden (not brown!) on top. Let the cake cool ENTIRELY before removing it. To remove, use a butter knife to loosen the edges and center of the cake from the pan, and then carefully turn it out onto a plate.

Mix together the glaze ingredients with a spoon in a small bowl just before pouring onto cake and serving.

Make-Ahead Options:
If serving the next day, allow to cool completely and then wrap in a couple layers of plastic wrap. I’d suggest wrapping just the cake and not the cake on a plate to keep away the most air from the cake. (Leave off glaze until just before serving!)
If serving in the future, allow cake to cool completely and wrap in several layers of plastic wrap, just like option #1. Store in your freezer for up to a month. When ready to serve, unwrap layers of plastic and rest a tea towel over the cake as it thaws. It will need at least 5 hours to thaw thoroughly. (Leave off glaze until just before serving!)

Once cut, this cake can live on your counter, covered, for 2 days. After that it should go in your refrigerator.

Make-Ahead Sour Cream Coffee Cake | Design Mom


Thank you so much, Liz. This truly looks heavenly. I’ve never baked my coffee cake in a bundt pan before, but it so pretty! And I can see it will slice up so nicely. Can’t wait to try it.

Happy holiday brunching to everyone!

Credits: Images, styling & recipe by Liz Berget. Assistance by Amy Christie.

7 thoughts on “Sour Cream Coffee Cake (Make-Ahead!)”

  1. I loooove that you shared a make-ahead recipe. I have a toddler, so make-ahead dishes are a essential. This looks delicious – can’t wait to try it! :)

  2. Oh my goodness I’ve just started watching The Great British Baking Show and this totally reminds me of the cherry cake that they do in episode one. When they cut through the cakes, looking for an even distribution of cherries… they cutaway of this cake reminded me of that. It’s gorgeous. *in a British voice* “but how is the crumb?” “This is. . . overbaked.” :D

  3. I so needed a nice coffee cake recipe! This cake looks fantastic! (I also love it that it can be made ahead.)

    Thank you so much, Gabrielle and Liz!

  4. I went ahead and made this bundt cake for Christmas morning. It was delicious–no matter whether you had the top half or the bottom half. I say this because apparently I failed to grease the pan well enough and in an effort to pry it out of the pan, it came out one half at a time. I’ll definitely make it again!

  5. Just made this recipe & it was delicious! Moist, flavorful and the perfect cake to filling ratio. I baked it in two loaf pans as I don’t have a bundt pan, which made one 3-layer, full loaf and one smaller 2-layer loaf.

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