My grandma’s nutty sour cream coffee cake recipe is perfection. Or should have been perfection, if I had just made it the way that she said to.
When I pulled this recipe out of her recipe box I still had sweet potato crumb cake on the brain, and decided I wanted to add an equally delightful crumb topping to this recipe (because a coffee cake always has a crumb topping, right?)
It sunk. The crumb topping I mean. Sunk right to the bottom of the cake where it pooled in pockets of molten brown sugar. It was still tasty, actually, but it wasn’t what I was going for and certainly wasn’t very pretty.
Not one to quit, I made it again, this time following grandma’s instructions (other than adding the apples, of course. Call me a rebel if you must).
And you know what? If I had just followed the dang recipe the first time, I would have been rewarded with a delightfully crispy top. The simple act of sprinkling a generous amount of sugar on top of the batter transforms into a thin layer of papery crispness that, dare I say it, is even better than a crumb topping.
Lesson learned: don’t f*** with grandma’s recipes.
But, Lindsay! You said you added apples, so clearly you still messed with the recipe.
I know, I know. I never learn, do I?
Still, I feel that my addition of apples is one change grandma would approve of (for years she had an apple tree in her front yard, so I’m betting she probably made a variation like this herself at one point).
What kind of apples should you use? That’s a loaded question. I used honeycrisp apples, which are my favorite eating apples and translate beautifully into baking recipes. You definitely want a crisp apple that holds up well to heat, but it’s up to you whether you like sweeter apples like honeycrisp or more tart ones like Granny Smith. Either would work beautifully here.
When it comes to cake pans, I used a 9-inch round by 3-inch deep pan with a removable bottom for easy removal. Same concept as a springform pan but with better quality metal and no leakage whatsoever. Whatever you do, DO NOT use a standard 2-inch deep pan or you will likely spilleth over. Or, if you do, don’t fill it all the way. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
If you don’t have a deep 9-inch round pan, a standard 9-inch square pan will also work, as the same size square holds more batter, volume-wise, than a 9-inch round pan (yay geometry!) Just don’t fill your pan more than 2/3 way full to avoid overflow (the apples add a good amount of volume, almost too much for this size pan, so you may want to leave a little out just in case). Your bake time will also be slightly less to account for the thinner depth.
Not sure if it was my switch to a round vs square pan, but I did have to adjust my baking time, 15 minutes more than the original. Use your judgement: at 35 minutes my cake was still jiggly in the middle, clearly not done. You’ll know it’s done when the top is golden and crispy and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs attached.
Of course, I added apples, but you can certainly remove them and go for a straight up sour cream coffee cake. It’s a keeper!
Apple Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Moist and tender sour cream coffee cake with honeycrisp apples, cinnamon sugar, and chopped pecans. From my grandma’s recipe box to your kitchen!
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 3/4 cup (7.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and finely diced (about 1 1/2 cups diced)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, almonds, or walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch round by 3-inch deep cake pan (preferably with a removable bottom) or 9-inch square cake pan; line bottom with parchment paper.
- In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- Mix baking soda in with sour cream; mix baking powder and salt in with flour until evenly incorporated.
- Alternate adding half of sour cream to batter, followed by half of dry ingredients, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then repeat with remaining sour cream and flour until just incorporated. Mix in vanilla extract, then fold in apples until evenly distributed. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and cinnamon.
- Spread half of the batter into prepared cake pan. Sprinkle with half of sugar mixture and half of chopped nuts; gently swirl a few strokes through the batter with a knife. Top with remaining batter, then sprinkle with remaining sugar and nuts and swirl once again.
- Bake for about 50 minutes or until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. If using a 9-inch square pan or a smaller pan (hopefully you didn’t put all the batter in there) your cake will likely be done sooner, so start checking after 30-35 minutes.
- Place pan on a wire rack to cool. Run a knife around the edge to release, then remove from pan and cool completely. Cake will keep, covered in an airtight container, for up to 3 days.
Did you make this recipe?
Let us know what you think!
Leave a Comment below or share a photo and tag me on Instagram with the hashtag #loveandoliveoil.
Learned a new trick with mixing the baking soda with the sour cream made it fluffy. Cake is in the oven and looks good.
I just made my version of this recipe. Haven’t done it in years, literally. My recipe calls for 2 cups sifted flour, only 1 teaspoon baking powder, soda sifted with dry ingredients. Also, it calls for one apple, sliced. Also calls for an angel food cake pan instead. Apple is spread on top of 1/2 batter along with sugar, cinnamon, nut mixture.
My recipe card is so faded and nasty that I didn’t recognize it the first time through my at least 40 or 50 year old card file box. (Paint missing in places, bottom edge rusty, well you get the picture.)
The reason I went looking for the recipe on line is because I hadn’t written down the oven temp. all those many years ago.
I thought that it was 350° so, since my oven is now convection, I set it at 325°.
All seemed fine but the top was just cinnamon sugar and nuts, resting on top.
I don’t remember it being like that but it might have been.
Is your oven a convection? I might need to bake at 350° next time.
I’m an 86 year old mom, grandma and great-grandma who is ever so grateful for the internet and computers even though they do frustrate me on a regular basis.
Keep passing on the recipes from grandma, etc. I have few from my grandma, not many unfortunately.
Thanks for this great resource!
Absolutely Delicious +++
Moist and perfectly perfect!
Thankyou for Sharing.
Made today to get rid of some sour cream and some apples that weren’t the best. Used a mixture of pistachios, almonds and hazelnuts and brown sugar/cinnamon for the filling and topping. Nice light cake and a great treat for going back to work after the long Labor Day weekend.
I made your Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins and my family loved them. They have become a much requested repeat recipe. I saw the link to this Apple Sour Cream Coffee Cake so I decided to try making it into muffins. I only had Greek yogurt so I used that instead of sour cream. When I added the baking soda to the yogurt, I had to laugh at the foaming reaction. The muffins turned out great and were especially light in texture. I’m sure I will keep making both the blueberry and apple recipes. Thank you for your wonderful website. Christine
This is an excellent apple cake. It is light, not too sweet and very easy to make and only added a teaspoon of nutmeg to the recipe. Serve with a scope of icecream and you have a prize winning desert.
Made this cake at least 10 times, it’s one of my most favorite recipes! I reduce the sugar in the cake by a 1/4 and it’s just fine. Thank you!
Made this twice, really good!
I reduced sugar to 3/4 cup for the cake & used only 1/4 cup sugar for the topping but still turned out great and sweet enough. Moist and delicious! From now on, this will be my go to recipe for apple cake. Thank you!
I made this recipe both yesterday and then again today.
Changes: I made the sugar half white & half brown.
1.5 cups of diced apple Was 1.5 apples (Granny Smith).
I also dusted the diced apple with cinnamon before adding to the batter.
Yesterday’s had no nuts, but today’s had about 3/8 c. Of diced slivered almonds.
I baked it for exactly 50 minutes in a silicone square pan. It rose nicely to the top of the pan.
Both groups I shared this with raved about it! Moist, fluffy, such great flavor. Friends several folks took a second piece. This recipe goes into my ‘Hits’ file!🤗
Just ok. Way too sweet! 1/2 the amount of the sugar/cinnamon topping would have been enough. Can’t even taste the apples.
Great recipe !!
Made this yesterday, girlfriend loved it, the apple adds tart, sweetness, and moisture!! So good!
I made this today and we all loved it. It was super moist and flavorful. I used turbinado sugar (decreased to 3/4 cup in the batter) and baked in a 9″ square spring form for 35 min. Everything was perfect.
By the way, does baking soda have to be mixed with sour cream? Can’t it be mixed with flour? I am just curious. Thank you, Lindsay.
I have not tested the sour cream/soda method side by side, but I imagine since the soda lightens the sour cream it mixes in easier and incorporates more air into the batter. This was how my grandma’s recipe was written… It always works so I’m not going to mess with it!
can the sour cream be 18%?
Not sure what 18% sour cream is? Is that the fat percentage? I recommend using full fat regular sour cream, not low fat.
I love this recipe! I’m not a baker, so I love how forgiving this recipe is. I usually make it with whole wheat pastry flour and have even made it with GF flour. I’ve made it in a bread loaf pan, a 9″ spring form cake pan, and in a muffin tin. I have substituted walnuts for pecans, maple sugar for granulated sugar, and greek yogurt for the sour cream. I’ve never been disappointed! This is a keeper! :)
So glad you love it as much as I do! It is such a great ‘base’ recipe, just ripe for adaptation!
Delicious! I made it for Christmas brunch and everyone loved it! The crunchy top is wonderful and the cake is so moist. There wasn’t enough left to worry about storing.
Thanks for sharing this recipe it turned out really yummy
I was wondering how am I supposed to store this and what is the recommended shelf life?
I’d recommend keeping it in an airtight container if you can, room temperature is ok. It will dry out a bit after a few days. I haven’t personally tried freezing it but it seems like it would work if you wanted to store it longer!
It looks and sounds delicious! I’ll need to make this for my mom, she’ll love it.
great recipe, I did some changes to keep cardio diet going: omitted salt and used oil instead of butter;
the bread turned out tasty and moist;
Lindsey, I have made this twice already and it is wonderful! I used a 9×13 baking pan and doubled the recipe!! What a great fall recipe!
Thanks, Judi S.
I’m so glad to hear you loved this (and that it works well in a 9×13 pan!)
This looks amazing!! Is there a way to adapt this for a 9×13 Pan?? Thanks!!
You could try doubling it, the volume should be about right. I have not tried this personally though so I can’t say for sure. Also keep an eye on bake time, not sure if it’d end up needing more or less time overall (depends on the final thickness). Let me know how it goes if you try it!
Made this for five tables of bridge…. 20 + professional men and women with discriminating taste buds. I kicked it up a notch by topping each piece with about 3-4 tablespoons of hot homemade salted caramel sauce.
It was received with accolades! Definitely will be a “go to” recipe in the future!
Do you think I could use a bundt pan for this coffee cake? The recipe (and your wonderful description) make it look so yummy. Thx in advance for your response.
Definitely, though the batter probably wouldn’t fill the pan entirely. Not sure how it would affect cooking time either, so keep an eye on it. I’ve since posted another version of this recipe that I made in an 8-inch tube pan: https://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2019/02/sour-cream-chocolate-chip-coffee-cake.html
I’ve made this coffee cake two weeks in a row. That’s how good it is. The first time I used my mixer attachment to peel, slice and core the apple. Yesterday when made the cake I prepared the apples by hand. The only difference was the apples were not very thin like the first time. More like thicker apple pie slices. Yes, I know I was being lazy. The verdict? I personally think that the really thin sliced apples made for a more even and delicate cake. Needless to say I won’t be making that mistake again. Fabulous recipe! Thank you!
I can’t stop eating it!!!!
saw this on your front page and the title definitely caught my eye since I don’t usually eat a lot of desserts, have to break my diet to eat them but really miss a good, well balanced coffee cake like this, it takes me back to very early years, so will be making this over the weekend, thank you!
Wow, I swore I could smell this cooking as I was reading the recipe. Excellent writing job! Is it any wonder I drool a lot when I read your blog?
I’m wondering how well this coffee cake freezes? I like to do a lot of baking at once so I need to preserve a lot of my goodies. This is idea for my morning coffee to help me get up and go, since I so rarely eat much breakfast. Getting out a slice and popping it into the microwave would make this so easy.
Wow, what a keeper of a recipe, turned out beautiful and delicious.
This was just delicious!!! Best coffee cake I’ve ever tasted……. nice and moist with the apples too! I’ll make this again real soon! Great to have on hand. I’m going to try having a few servings in the freezer to pull out for breakfast coffee!
Oh this makes me so happy to hear! So glad you enjoyed it!!
I can’t wait to make this, I first saw the photo of this on the FB group and I knew I had to go look for it on the site, thank you for featuring it so I could go right to it!
I made this on Friday with a 9″ springform pan and GOODNESS GRACIOUS it turned out amazing. Thank you for posting – this one is a keeper.
Hooray! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!! Grandma did good with this one. ;)
Made this yesterday and it is DIVINE! The best coffee cake I’ve ever had, so moist and the crunchy top is everything ?? It’s also an easy recipe which makes it my new go-to for when company is coming over.
So glad you enjoyed it! It’s a keeper, for sure!
I made this last night to have for dessert and all I can say is: AMAZING!!! I should have taken a picture of it because it looked just like yours–YEA!! This is one of the best coffee cakes I have ever tasted, if not the best. You won’t be sorry if you make it! I used a 9″ springform pan and followed the directions with no changes. I used a large honeycrisp Apple and it was a little more than 1 1/2 cups. The topping is awesome as well. Thank you for sharing and Thank You–Grandma!
Oh that makes me so happy to hear! So glad you enjoyed. :) Good to know it works well in a springform pan as well (I’m always worried about leakage, lol).
It looks so good!!!!!
Your recipe sounds yummy! I have made one for my family for years similar to yours from Cooking for Compliments cookbook and loved adding apples too! I make it into individual bundt cakes too. Thanks for sharing yours!