I am so happy to bring this amazing lemon coffee cake into your life. It’s dense and moist just like a classic coffee cake, but is baked with fresh lemons and a crunchy crumble topping. Oh, and how could I forget that a layer of lemon cream cheese is baked right into the center! This cake is creamy, sweet, tangy, crunchy, and just so delicious. It’s what every brunch needs.
Tips for making the BEST lemon coffee cake
The cream cheese filling is what takes this recipe over the top, but the lemon coffee cake itself it so delicious that you could make it all on its own. It’s dense, moist, and bursting with zesty lemon flavor. Here are my top tips to ensure it turns out just right:
- The Flour – I say this in almost all of my recipes, and for good reason! Flour is the number one reason why recipes can flop because it is so easy to use too much. To ensure you have the right amount, gently spoon it in your measuring cup and level it off with a flat edge. Don’t pack or shake it down and don’t scoop directly from the flour bag or container. It can become compacted into the measuring cup, leading to way too much flour in the recipe. If you can, use a food scale first.
- The Lemon – A simple trick I like to use in every lemon recipe is to rub the lemon zest into the sugar before starting the batter. This helps loosen up the zest and release those natural oils. It enhances the lemon flavor to create a really delicious lemon cake.
- Moisture – The reason why this cake is so dense and moist is mainly due to the use of sour cream. Sour cream is a classic coffee cake ingredient for this exact reason. It falls more on the acidic side, creating a tender texture that helps leaven the cake (especially paired with baking soda and another acidic ingredient like lemon juice). I recommend sticking to sour cream, but you can also use full fat Greek yogurt as well.
How to stuff coffee cake with cream cheese
This is when a springform pan comes in handy. It has tall straight sides that is perfect for this dense lemon coffee cake. I’ll go into different pan options in a bit, but just know that a springform pan is your best option for this stuffed cake.
When the batter is ready, pour half of it into the bottom of your pan and spread it even. Make sure it touches all sides.
Next, spread an even layer of the cream cheese filling on top. This is a delicate process so here’s what I like to do to make sure it doesn’t blend into the cake batter: cascade the cream cheese in a smooth flow all around the cake. If using a larger bowl, it should come out in somewhat of a flat sheet. Using this method will cover the most surface before going in with a spatula to even it out.
Then, take a spoon or small offset spatula and gently spread it even. Leave about a 1 inch gap all around the edge of the pan so you can still see the cake batter poking through underneath. Once the rest of the batter is poured on top, the two will touch and form a seal all around the cake.
Gently pour on the rest of the batter (just like you did with the cream cheese) and spread it all the way to the sides. Now top with the crumble and bake!
What is the best pan to use?
If you have a 9″ or even a 10″ springform pan, use it! It is your best option. If not, this can also be made in a 9″ square baking dish or a 9″ round cake pan, as long as they have tall sides.
Either way, always make sure to line the bottom with parchment paper for easy release. If you’re baking in a square dish, let the paper hang up and over the sides so you can just pull the cake right out once it has cooled.
Can I make this into muffins?
I haven’t tested it, but I’m sure this recipe would be great as muffins. It should make about 20 muffins, so fill each cup halfway then dollop some of the cream cheese into the center. Top with the rest of the cake batter so each cup is about 3/4 full.
Sprinkle the crumble on top and bake at 375F for 15-20 minutes. Allow them to cool completely before removing from the pan.
Tips for baking a dense coffee cake
This cake takes nearly and hour to bake because of how thick and dense it is. Because of this, it can also be easy for your cake to sink in the middle. To ensure this doesn’t happen, here are a few tips:
- Don’t over fill the pan. If you’re modifying this recipe by using a different pan other than a 9″ springform, make sure it isn’t overflowing. The crumble should hit right before the top of the pan. If it’s filled too high, the center may not bake all the way through.
- Do the jiggle test. Since the center is essentially a cheesecake, the cake itself will jiggle a bit when it’s hot. To make sure it’s done, give the cake a nudge inside the oven. If the center wobbles like a bowl of milk, it’s not done. If it jiggles like a jello mold, it’s ready.
- Cover and bake. For the last 15 minutes of baking, cover the top of the cake with foil. This not only prevents the top from burning, but it also traps in some of that heat which will help the cake bake through to the center.
If your cake isn’t baked through to the center, just keep baking it with the foil in 10 minute increments until it’s ready. A toothpick in the center should come out clean with a few moist crumbs.
Cooling the cake
Do not skip this step! It is very important to make sure the cake is completely cooled before slicing into it. Otherwise the cream cheese in the center will ooze out. Chilling the cake for about an hour will ensure it is completely set.
How to store coffee cake
Store this cake in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 6 days.
For more lemon desserts, check out my:
Make sure to tag me @butternutbakery on Instagram and comment below if you make this Lemon Coffee Cake. To pin this recipe and save it for later, you can use the button on the recipe card or on any of the photos above. Happy baking!Print