Love and Olive Oil
Greek Yogurt Coffee Cake

Greek Yogurt Coffee Cake

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This old-fashioned cinnamon swirl coffee cake is made with Greek yogurt instead of sour cream for a lightened-up twist, and topped with a crackly layer of cinnamon sugar and chopped pecans.

There are few things as satisfying as a perfect coffee cake, and this one is no exception: with Greek yogurt for moistness, and cinnamon, sugar and pecans swirled in and sprinkled on top.

Lifting a slice of Greek Yogurt Coffee Cake showing the texture inside

I just realized that 3 out of the the last 4 recipes I’ve posted have been for breakfast bready things. Sourdough muffins and boozy banana bread and now, this Greek yogurt coffee cake.

And actually, with strawberries and matcha and eggs you could probably justify eating this tart for breakfast too (I knew I liked you).

I have no idea why I’ve been craving breakfast bakes rather than my usual chocolate-heavy dessert recipes, but I’m just going to roll with it (though I do have a cookie recipe or two up my sleeve, so you have that to look forward to, too).

Greek Yogurt Coffee Cake on a ceramic plate with coffee cups and sugar cubes in the background.

This recipe is based on my grandmother’s sour cream coffee cake, of which I’ve made both apple and chocolate chip variations.

The recipe itself is virtually identical, just made with Greek yogurt instead of sour cream (I also scaled down the recipe, a half-sized version essentially, since I feel like a lot of us are making smaller batches of things these days since excess baked goods aren’t quite as easy to share).

While sour cream and Greek yogurt are usually interchangeable in most situations, the lower fat content in the yogurt makes this version not quite as rich and ever so slightly drier (fat being one of the elements that keeps cakes moist), although I feel like you’d really only be able to tell this subtle difference if you tasted two versions side by side.

I do recommend using whole milk Greek yogurt, as the higher protein content in lower fat versions may make for a tougher, less tender texture (also be sure you buy plain yogurt, flavored ones would just be… weird).

Slice of Greek Yogurt Coffee Cake laying on its side on a plate, with the full cake and coffee cups in the background.

The sugar topping is perhaps my favorite part of this coffee cake recipe; instead of bulky crumbs it’s a super thin, super crispy layer of baked sugar that shatters against your teeth when you bite into it.

Yes, you will probably make a mess, but yes, it’s worth it.

I’m all about textural contrasts and this pairing of dense, buttery cake, crunchy pecans and paper thin sugar shards is downright wonderful.

Also: easier. There’s no crumb mixture to make, just a simple blend of cinnamon and sugar plus some chopped nuts, half of which gets layered in the middle of the cake (feel free to ‘swirl’ this a bit, but I kind of like the defined ribbon look), and the other half gets sprinkled on top.

While I used pecans, you can certainly used chopped almonds or walnuts here too.

Overhead scene with coffee cake and scattered pecans, two coffee cups and a bowl of sugar cubes

Closeup of a slice of coffee cake showing the texture and the cinnamon sugar swirl

This is a smaller scale version of the original recipe, written for a deep 6-inch cake pan or springform pan (be sure the pan is at least 2 1/2-inches deep or the cake will probably overflow – this is the pan I used which has a removable bottom for easy removal without disturbing the topping). You can, however, also make it in a standard 8.5-by-4.5-inch loaf pan (the loaf will be slightly thinner, so just keep an eye on it as the baking time will likely be less).

If you want a larger cake in a 9-inch cake pan, simply double the recipe.

Overhead detail of round coffee cake with sugar and pecan topping

Interestingly, grandma’s recipe calls for mixing the baking powder in with the flour as expected, but the baking soda gets mixed in with the yogurt before adding it to the other wet ingredients.

Do not do this ahead of time, you want to mix this right before you add it to the mixing bowl. You’ll notice the yogurt immediately start to get airy and bubbly, almost mousse-like, which helps it more easily incorporate into the batter as well as contributes to the lovely dense-and-yet-surprisingly-light texture of this coffee cake.

I want to say this unique step makes the cake ultra tender, although I’ll be honest I haven’t actually compared it to a version of the cake where the baking soda and powder are simply mixed with the dry ingredients. I bet there would be a slight difference, however you could probably only really tell if you had two otherwise identical cakes and tasted them side by side.

Fork with a bite of coffee cake on a ceramic plate with chopped pecans scattered around

Because I’ve gotten a lot of comments asking why there isn’t any coffee in this recipe (or implying I forgot to include it in the ingredient list), let me clarify: in the US, coffee cake is a muffin-like breakfast cake meant to be served with coffee. It doesn’t actually include coffee in the cake itself.

I’m aware that in the UK and elsewhere in the world that coffee cake means a coffee-flavored cake, but that’s not the case with this “American-style” coffee cake (I promise it’s not a typo or a misprint). In that sense it’s no different than tea cakes (to be served with tea, not made with tea in the cake itself). Capiche?

Greek Yogurt Coffee Cake

Greek Yogurt Coffee Cake

This recipe makes one 6-inch cake (be sure to use a 3-inch deep cake pan or springform pan). Double the recipe for a 9-inch cake!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 56g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (135g) whole plain Greek yogurt, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

For topping:

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, almonds, or walnuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 6-inch-round by 3-inch-deep cake pan or springform pan (preferably with a removable bottom) or a 8.5-by-4.5-inch loaf pan; line bottom with parchment paper.
  2. 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 egg and mix until incorporated.
  3. Mix baking soda in with yogurt; whisk baking powder and salt in with flour.
  4. Alternate adding half of yogurt to batter, followed by half of dry ingredients, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then repeat with remaining yogurt and flour until just incorporated. Mix in extracts.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and cinnamon.
  6. Spread half of the batter into prepared cake pan. Sprinkle with half of sugar mixture and half of chopped nuts. Top with remaining batter, then sprinkle with remaining sugar and nuts.
  7. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes or until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. If using a loaf pan or a larger pan, your cake will likely be done sooner, so start checking after 30 to 35 minutes.
  8. 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.
All images and text © Lindsay Landis /

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62 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. this looks delicious. i have been baking like a mad thing, and eating – as my waistband demonstrates. it is winter here so i think lovely baked things are just the go!
    cheers
    sherry

  2. Here in New Mexico it is apricot and strawberry season. I wanted a vanilla cake to serve with them. This one was perfect! Light and moist at the same time. I baked it in a loaf pan for 30 minutes. Thank you.

  3. Can this be made with gluten free flour? It looks delicious! Thank you.

  4. yum, seems like I haven’t had coffee cake in way too long but definitely several years, and today is my relaxed carb day so, I’m in, thank you!

  5. Can this be made with plain yogurt instead?

    • Greek yogurt has a much thicker texture and higher protein content. I have not tried it personally but I would not recommend swapping it out for thinner, American-style yogurt which is also much sweeter.

  6. I’m so in with any recipes with Coffee and Cake xD I love it so much! :}

  7. The cake looks just great! Already want to eat it! all!

  8. Any tips for adding some sort of fruit to this (like blueberries)? I’m worried about messing with a good thing, but I’m getting pressure from my family to add blueberries!

    • I have not tried adding fruit myself. The batter is pretty thick, so I don’t think you’d have too much issue with the fruit sinking. Just don’t add too much fruit or the cake might come out soggy. I also think fresh blueberries would work better than frozen!

  9. I just found your website and this is first recipe I’ve made off of it – and it sure won’t be the last!

    This coffee cake is the BOMB!! The batter came out relatively thick, but it rose beautifully! The layer of topping in the center made it even more fun to eat!

    I will be saving this recipe and doubling it next time because we finished it way too quickly, haha! Thanks!

  10. Can I use plain 2% Greek yogurt in this recipe?

  11. Amazing recipes!! It looks yummy I will definitely gonna try this soon. But, I don’t want to use egg in this as I am vegetarian so, what else should use?

    • I have not tested this recipe with any egg replacements, sorry! I worry it wouldn’t rise properly. I might recommend seeking out a vegan coffee cake recipe that was developed with this in mind.

  12. The cake looks perfect and fabulous to bake for a special day. Yes, its definitely the best coffee cake. Lovely!!

  13. Where is the coffee in this ‘coffee’ cake ? 

  14. Do you think this would work well as a Bundt cake? Would you recommend changing anything in particular? I’m thinking the topping could be spread at the bottom of the pan and then the batter put on top. What do you think? Looks delicious!!

    • I did it in a tube pan and it worked just fine! I don’t think you’d get the same crispy topping though if you put it on the bottom. I’d sprinkle the sugar on top like the recipe says; once you flip it over it’ll just be a crispy bottom instead of a crispy top. :)
      (You’ll probably have to double this recipe since it’s a smaller scale version, unless you have a half size bundt pan).

  15. Hi, I baked the double recipe in a large (22cm) springform tin but am struggling to know how long to bake it for – it was still raw inside after 35 mins. How long would you recommend for baking time?

  16. Hi ,

    This recipe was so amazing ! My whole family loved it. Thank you :)

  17. Taught my g-daughter this recipe to teach her how to read a recipe and cook it. Came out delicious.

  18. At which point to I need to add vanilla extract?

  19. I just love this tasty coffee cake recipe. This is really looking so delicious and yummy. Thank you for sharing this very unique cake recipe. I will surly try this to make it at home.

  20. this recipe is amazing!! so glad i found it. super yummy

  21. Now it is holiday and I have a lot of time to cook whatever I want for breakfast and your coffee cake recipe is always one of my favourite choice! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  22. Any luck baking and then freezing for a later date?

  23. recipe says coffee cake ??? but no coffee ingredient ???

  24. Great recipe! I just finished it last night and the result was unexpected, my wife and daughter both liked it, which made me happy. Thanks for your recipe!

  25. Can don’t put baking soda?

  26. Do you think I can swap buttermilk for Greek yogurt? This looks delicious! Thanks!

    • This is not a substitution I’ve tested so I cannot say if it would work or not. The buttermilk would definitely result in a thinner batter, so the cinnamon swirl may not be as defined.

  27. There doesn’t seem to be coffee included in the ingredients?

    • In the US, coffee cake is a type of breakfast cake served with coffee, not a cake with coffee in it. Confusing I know, but it’s intentional, not a mistake. ;)

  28. I made this cake and the batter was
    Very hard to
    Work with in that you only put 1 egg in your ingredients but now that I’ve made other coffee cakes I realize this was an error as in watching the video of the cake being made you add 2 eggs to your recipe and the batter consistency is much much different that mine was.  Can you confirm that your ingredients list is accurate.  

  29. Very misleading as no coffee at all in recipe

    • I just made this , it came out perfect. I only had 2% Greek yogurt and it was still moist. Mine was done in 35mins. A recipe to keep!

    • In the US, ‘Coffee Cake’ is a cake served with coffee. It does not necessarily have coffee in it.

  30. The cake is in the oven, but I realize the batter is really not what I expected. Note that your conversion to grams is off …1 cup of flour is not equal to 100 gram of flour. I wanted to use my kitchen scale for precision and therefore refered to the recipe using the grams. Will see the end result!

    • The recipe is correct, 1 cup of flour weighs 125g. Weight and volume measurements are not the same. If you weighed 125g of flour you used the correct amount!

  31. Where’s the coffee !!
    I’ve made this and am surprised it’s risen as well as it has as the batter seemed quite stiff. Not sure if I could have put more yoghurt in it. Looks good though but yet to sample it. 
    I was a bit confused by the name and had to double check I’d not left anything out but then surmised it’s a cake to eat with a mug of coffee! A bit disappointing as I love coffee cake. I’m sure this is lovely though. 

    • In the US ‘coffee cake’ refers to a breakfasty cake served in the mornings WITH coffee. It does not actually have coffee in it. I’ve realized after posting the recipe that this is not the case elsewhere in the world (as you can see by the # of comments nearly identical to yours, lol). Maybe I’ll make an actual coffee coffee cake next. ;)

  32. Hello. I really like this smaller version of a cake recipe.  I hope you consider scaling down other delicious recipes.
    I’ve notice the number of comments about coffee missing as an ingredient.  I’d like to point out that most tea cakes do not contain tea. 😉

  33. I’ve made this a couple of times now & it’s absolutely delicious.

  34. A fabulous little treat! That unusual step of mixing the baking soda with the yogurt is amazing! Thank you for sharing.

  35. The recipe looks so good, can you recommend any better sweetener than sugar, like agave syrup or honey?

    • I have not tested this with any liquid sweeteners, it would likely change the consistency of the cake and I’m not sure if it’d work. You’d be better off seeking out a recipe that was developed with this in mind rather than trying to convert this one.

  36. Where is the coffee??

  37. all these pictures of the final cake look makes me literally drool. thanks for sharing it. i am thinking of trying this recipe for my son’s birthday. hope my son and my husband likes it.

  38. Thank you for this recipe!
    I used half Greek yogurt and half buttermilk, 3/4 butter, and 3/4 light brown sugar. Baked it for 1 hour and 10 mins. It’s so moist and the streusel topping is so enjoyable.

  39. I just realised this is a coffee free cake, so added a little very strong black coffee and some espresso grounds. Also added a little honey and some almond flour. I am making it in the style of Victoria sponge, so doubled the ingredients and put in two trays.
    I am making coffee chocolate butter cream and new (to me) coffee curd as the filling.
    Possibly a new recipe, lol, but the base is this recipe. Looking forward to it . . .

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