Food & dining

Recipe: For brunch or a houseful of guests any time, this cake will get you through the holidays

Sour cream crumb coffee cake
Sheryl Julian for The Boston Globe
Sour cream crumb coffee cake

For brunch or a houseful of guests any time, this large sour-cream cake is covered with a thick topping of craggy, buttery, brown-sugar crumbs. The cake keeps well; leave it on the kitchen counter covered with foil and let guests cut a square when they pass by. It will get you through the holidays, from Thanksgiving breakfast to a late-night treat in the early hours of the new year.


cups flour
cup granulated sugar
cup light brown sugar
Generous pinch of salt
¾cup (1½ sticks) cold unsalted butter,
cut into chunks
1teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a bowl, combine the flour, granulated and light brown sugars, and salt. Mix well. Drop in the butter and using 2 blunt table knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it forms small pieces.


2. Sprinkle with vanilla. With your fingertips, firmly crumble the mixture until it comes together in small and large lumps. There should not be any grainy bits at the bottom of the bowl.

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Butter (for the pan)
Flour (for the pan)
3cups flour
teaspoons baking powder
½teaspoon baking soda
1teaspoon salt
½teaspoon ground nutmeg
1cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room
cups granulated sugar
3eggs plus 1 extra yolk
2teaspoons vanilla extract
cups sour cream

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan. Dust it with flour, tapping out the excess.

2. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg to blend them.

3. In an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, cream the butter for 3 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the sugar in 3 additions, beating for 1 minute after each. Beat in the whole eggs, one at a time, mixing only until incorporated, then the extra yolk and vanilla. With a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl often.


4. With the mixer set on low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with flour.

5. Spoon the batter into the pan, smoothing it with a spatula. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the batter, using it all. It will be a thick layer; make it as even as you can.

6. Bake the cake for 60 to 65 minutes, or until the cake is set and a skewer inserted into the center is clean when withdrawn (or has a few crumbs attached to it). You may see small butter pools, which means that the topping was not sprinkled evenly enough, but the flavor and texture will be fine. Set the cake in the pan on a wire rack to cool. Cut into squares. Lisa Yockelson

Lisa Yockelson can be reached at