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Sourdough Coffee Cake with Walnut Streusel

Sourdough Coffee Cake with walnut streusel is made with active sourdough starter and enriched with butter, milk and eggs. The brown sugar crumb topping and vanilla glaze are the crowning glory of this special breakfast (or dessert) treat.

a spoon drizzling icing on a sourdough coffee cake

If you don’t have one, you can learn How to Make a Sourdough Starter. Then I can show you how to Feed and Maintain Sourdough Starter or How to Keep a Small Sourdough Starter.

A timeline for making Sourdough Coffee Cake:

  • If your starter needs feeding, do that the night before or early in the morning of the day you want to make the dough.
  • Mix the dough in the afternoon. Allow it to ferment at room temperature all day.
  • While the dough ferments, make the streusel and crumb topping.
  • In the evening, roll the dough and shape the coffee cake. Place the cake into the pan and refrigerate before going to bed.
  • Take the pan out first thing in the morning and let it come to room temperature to finish rising (about 1 – 1 1/2 hours).
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven.
  • Sprinkle the crumb topping onto the cake and bake.
  • You can have warm coffee cake for breakfast or brunch.

Scroll through the step by step photos to see how to make a Sourdough Coffee Cake:

sourdough coffee cake dough on a floured surface
The dough starts out quite soft and sticky. It will change as it ferments.
three photos showing the progress of sourdough during fermentation
During the long fermentation the dough will become more aerated and more cohesive.
a handing folding sourdough for coffee cake
You will periodically fold the dough during fermentation. This helps redistribute the yeast.
2 photos showing how to roll and form a sourdough coffee cake
Roll the dough, scatter the streusel filling and then form it into a ring.
3 photos showing sourdough coffee cake rising over night
At left is how the cake starts. In the middle is after a night in the refrigerator. On the right is after rising at room temperature in the morning.
3 photos showing a sourdough coffee cake before and after baking
Scatter the crumb topping over the risen cake, then bake and cool before icing.

FAQs about making Sourdough Coffee Cake:

Can I work ahead to make the dough?

Yes, the dough can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated. The night before you want to bake, roll the dough and form the cake. Refrigerate overnight and bake in the morning.

Can I bake the coffee cake the same day I make the dough?

Yes, start the dough early in the morning and skip the refrigeration step.

Can I omit the walnuts from the streusel?

Yes, you can use any other nut in it’s place or eliminate the nuts all-together. You’ll have less filling if you don’t use any nuts.

I don’t have a tube pan, can I still make this cake?

Yes. After shaping it into a ring, you can set the cake on a parchment lined baking sheet. The cake may rise more out than up on a sheet pan.

How long does the Sourdough Coffee Cake stay fresh?

It really is best the day that it is baked.

Can I freeze Sourdough Coffee Cake?

Yes! Slice the cake. Wrap each slice individually and store them in a freezer bag for up to 3 months. You can also wrap and freeze the entire cake.

Can I re-heat previously frozen slices of the cake?

Yes, Just wrap the slice in foil and reheat in a 200°F oven until slightly warm. To rewarm the entire cake, allow it to defrost then warm in a 200°F oven.

a sliced sourdough coffee cake on a cake stand
a hand holding a piece of sourdough coffee cake

Try these other fabulous coffee cake recipes: Peach & Pecan Coffee Cake, Banana Coffee Cake, Pumpkin Coffee Cake, Blueberry Crumb Coffee Cake.

Since you’ve got your starter fed, peruse the entire list of My Best Sourdough Recipes. Have fun!

I know you hate to throw away that sourdough discard. Check out these recipes that use sourdough discard.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

a slice of sourdough coffee cake on a plate

Sourdough Coffee Cake with Walnut Streusel

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Rising Time: 12 hours
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 13 hours 15 minutes

Walnut Streusel Coffee cake made with a active sourdough starter and enriched with butter, milk and eggs.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (8 oz, 224g) active sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz, 120 ml) whole milk, warmed to 100°F
  • 2 cups (10 oz, 280g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (2.5 oz, 70g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 stick (2 oz, 56g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Streusel

  • 1/3 cup (2.5 oz, 70 grams) brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (2.5 oz, 70 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (4 oz, 115 grams) walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup (2.5 oz, 70g) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 stick (2 oz, 55g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

Assembly

  • Butter for pan prep
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1 cup (4 oz, 112g) confectioner's sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz, 30ml) whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon, combine the starter, milk, and 1 cup of the flour. Mix until it forms a thick batter. Cover the bowl and set aside for 30-60 minutes.
  2. Add the sugar, butter, egg, vanilla, salt and cinnamon to the bowl. Mix on low speed to combine. If working on a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook. With the mixer running, add the remaining flour until the dough gathers on the hook and clears the sides of the bowl. If working by hand mix as much flour as you can with the spoon, then finish kneading in the rest of the flour by hand. If the dough is very sticky sprinkle in a little more flour as you knead.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead to a smooth ball. The dough should be soft and silky.
  4. Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat the dough. Cover the bowl and set it aside at room temperature.
  5. After 30 minutes uncover the bowl, lift one side of the dough and fold it into the middle of the dough. Repeat with the other three sides of the dough then flip the dough over. You're basically turning the dough inside-out to redistribute the yeast. Cover the bowl and after 30 minutes repeat the procedure. Cover the bowl and after 60 minutes repeat the procedure again. Cover the bowl and after 60 minutes the dough should be ready to shape. The dough should be lively and aerated. If it still seems sluggish give it some more time to ferment. The total time will vary based on dough temp, air temp and how active your starter was.
  6. While the dough ferments, prepare the streusel.

Prepare the Streusel/Crumb Topping

  1. Combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, walnuts, cinnamon and pinch of salt in a food processor. Process until the nuts are chopped coarsely but not ground to a powder. Remove 2/3 cup for filling and set it aside.
  2. Add the flour and butter to the remaining streusel and process until it forms clumps. Set it aside to use later as the crumb topping.

Assembly

  1. Generously butter a 10" tube pan. Roll the dough to a 12"x 16"rectangle. Brush the surface of the dough with egg wash. Sprinkle the streusel over the dough. Roll the dough into a log, pinch the seam to seal.
  1. Bring the two ends of the log together to form a ring. Pinch the ends together.
  2. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan. Cover the pan and place the cake in the refrigerator overnight.
  3. The next morning, take the cake out of the refrigerator. The cake should rise in the refrigerator overnight, but it is probably not fully proofed. It should be almost doubled in volume. Leave the cake at room temperature to finish rising, it may take 1-1.5 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. To speed up the rising you can put the pan in the oven, VERY BRIEFLY, while it's just starting to warm up.
  5. Brush the surface of the cake with egg wash. Grab large chunks of the crumb topping and break them into smaller chunks over the surface of the cake.
  6. Bake until the cake is well risen and golden brown, about 30 minutes. You can use a probe thermometer to check the internal temperature. It should be about 200°F.
  7. Cool the cake for 20 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  8. Combine the confectioner's sugar with the milk and vanilla to form an icing with the texture of thin pancake batter. Drizzle the glaze over the cake and allow it to set.

Notes

The cake is best the day it is baked but will keep at room temperature for 1-2 days.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

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Valli

Friday 5th of June 2020

Made these today,but made them as cinnamon buns omitting walnuts.They came out so well,this is going to be made on repeat.Thank you for the recipe :)

Eileen Gray

Friday 5th of June 2020

You are welcome.

Megan

Friday 22nd of May 2020

I have no idea why this would not work for me, but at least for me, the ingredients were way off - it was way too wet. I'm a fairly expert baker, and this was so wet that there was literally no way I could have done stretch and folds on it was basically liquid. Probably had to add another 2 cups of flour to get to the right consistency. My starter is a rye blend starter, but that shouldn't have made this much of a difference. Still working on making this, but no idea why mine didn't work correctly.

Eileen Gray

Friday 22nd of May 2020

I can't say what happened. But as you can see from the photos, the dough does start out quite soft and sticky and should become more cohesive as it ferments. Do you have a lot of sourdough experience? Sorry, I'm not questioning your skill, just asking because sourdough is quite different than regular bread dough. My basic questions are always to ask if your starter is a 100% starter, if you gave it the 30-60 minute rest at the sponge stage and if you weigh or use volume measure for the ingredients.

Judith

Sunday 10th of May 2020

Can i make the crump into powder?

Eileen Gray

Sunday 10th of May 2020

Do you mean you want to make the crumb topping into a powder? You could use it without clumping it together.

Aoife Doyle

Thursday 7th of May 2020

Not sure if I’m missing something very obvious but where does the coffee element come in? I don’t see any coffee in the ingredients lists? Thank you

Eileen Gray

Thursday 7th of May 2020

Coffee cake is so-named because it's great with a cup of coffee. More because it's often a breakfast/brunch cake than because there is coffee in the recipe.

Jared

Monday 27th of April 2020

The recipe references the crumble top ... but it don’t see it’s ingredients or how to prepare it. Will try this with crumble from another recipe, and hope for the best!

Eileen Gray

Monday 27th of April 2020

The crumb topping is the streusel that was set aside then mixed with flour and butter to form crumbs (see steps 1&2 for preparing the streusel). I've updated the recipes to make it more clear.