Delicate coffee cake muffins put your favorite coffee shop version to shame. A perfect cinnamon-sugar treat, this this tender cake (that doesn’t have any coffee in it) is moist and versatile. Dress it up year round with fresh fruit or spices and make it in to something new year round.
Coffee cake is a type of cake that was served with coffee–there’s not actually any coffee in the recipe. It was a simple cake made with flour, sugar, and butter, and was often flavored with cinnamon or other spices.
As time went on bakers began to experiment with different variations of coffee cake including adding nuts, fruit, and streusel toppings.
In the 20th century coffee cake began to be transformed into muffins.
The muffin version of coffee cake was more portable and easier to eat on the go, making it a popular breakfast option. Today, coffee cake muffins come in a variety of flavors including blueberry, chocolate chip, and pumpkin spice.
The type of flour used in coffee cake muffin recipes can greatly affect the texture and flavor of the final product.
All-purpose flour is the most commonly used flour in muffin recipes, but some recipes may call for cake flour, pastry flour, or whole wheat flour.
Using cake flour or pastry flour can result in a lighter and more tender muffin, while using whole wheat flour can add a nutty flavor and extra fiber. Whole wheat will also be more dense.
Sweeteners are an important ingredient in Coffee Cake Muffins as they provide the necessary sweetness to balance out the other flavors.
Common sweeteners used in muffin recipes include granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, and molasses.
Brown sugar can add a deeper flavor and moisture to the muffins, while honey and maple syrup can add a subtle sweetness and unique flavor.
Leavening agents are necessary to help the muffins rise and become light and fluffy.
Baking powder and baking soda are the most commonly used leavening agents in coffee cake muffin recipes.
Baking powder is used to create a rise in the muffins, while baking soda is used to neutralize the acidity in the recipe and create a tender crumb.
Dairy and Alternatives
Dairy is often used in coffee cake muffin recipes to add moisture and richness to the muffins. Common dairy ingredients used include milk, yogurt, sour cream, and butter.
For those who are lactose intolerant or vegan, alternatives such as almond milk, coconut milk, and vegan butter can be used.
Add-Ins and Toppings
Common add-ins include chopped nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, and shredded coconut. Toppings such as streusel or glaze can add a sweet and crunchy finish to the muffins.
It’s important to not overdo it with add-ins and toppings as it can affect the texture and rise of the muffins.
When making coffee cake muffins, there are two main mixing methods: the creaming method and the muffin method. The creaming method involves beating butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then adding in eggs and dry ingredients. This method creates a tender crumb and a slightly denser texture.
The muffin method involves mixing the dry ingredients together in one bowl, the wet ingredients together in another bowl, and then combining the two until just mixed.
This method creates a more crumbly texture and a lighter muffin. This is the method I use.
The ideal baking temperature for coffee cake muffins is between 350 and 375°F .
This temperature allows the muffins to rise properly and develop a golden brown crust.
Baking at a lower temperature can result in a dense and undercooked muffin, while baking at a higher temperature can cause the muffins to dry out and become tough.
Muffin Tin Preparation
To ensure that the muffins come out easily and evenly, it is important to properly prepare the muffin tin.
Grease the muffin cups with cooking spray or butter, or use paper liners. Fill each cup about 2/3 full with batter to allow room for rising.
For even baking, it is recommended to rotate the muffin tin halfway through baking.
Make the streusel
Make the streusel before you mix the muffins. You want to get that batter in the oven promptly after mixing so having the other components ready means the batter doesn’t sit too long.
For the streusel mix the flour, sugar and cinnamon then drizzle over the melted butter. Use a fork to mix until clumps form. Set aside.
How to mix the muffin batter
- Mix the sugars and butter together in a bowl. You can do this with a whisk, just make sure to give it some elbow grease and stir vigorously to help dissolve some of the sugar. Mix these two 3-4 minutes.
- Add the eggs and beat in until combined.
- Add the buttermilk, sour cream and vanilla and mix to combine.
- Add the wet ingredients into the dry flour mixture and stir only until no pockets of dry flour remain. Don’t over mix. The batter will be fairly thick and smooth.
- Fill the muffin cups about half full, then sprinkle on a layer of cinnamon sugar.
- Top with enough batter to fill the muffin tin 2/3 full.
- Sprinkle on the streusel you made earlier, then bake as directed.
- Drizzle with glaze if desired.
Common Mistakes and Troubleshooting
When it comes to making coffee cake muffins, there are a few common mistakes that can be easily avoided with some troubleshooting. Here are some tips to ensure that your muffins turn out perfectly every time:
- Overmixing the batter can result in tough and dense muffins. Mix the batter until it is just combined and the dry flour disappears, then stop.
- Using cold ingredients can cause the batter to be lumpy and difficult to mix. Make sure that all of your ingredients are at room temperature before you begin, even your eggs.
- Overfilling the muffin cups can cause the muffins to overflow and lose their shape. Fill the cups no more than two-thirds full to ensure that they bake evenly and hold their shape.
- Baking the muffins at too high of a temperature can cause them to burn on the outside while remaining raw on the inside. Bake the muffins at 425 for 5 minutes then turn the heat down and bake for 10-15 minutes more or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
For those who are gluten intolerant or have celiac disease, there are several ways to make coffee cake muffins without using wheat flour. Instead, look for a gluten-free flour blend. I like King Arthur’s 1:1 Baking Flour the best.
To make coffee cake muffins vegan, you can substitute dairy and eggs with plant-based alternatives. Instead of butter, you can use coconut oil or vegan margarine.
Instead of milk, you can use almond milk, soy milk, or another non-dairy milk.
For the eggs, you can use flax eggs, chia eggs, or applesauce. It is important to note that these substitutions may affect the texture and flavor of the muffins, so it may require some experimentation to find the right combination.
Coffee cake muffins can be easily adapted to include seasonal flavors and ingredients.
In the fall, you can add pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice for a pumpkin spice coffee cake muffin. In the winter, you can add cranberries and orange zest for a festive twist.
In the spring, you can add fresh berries and lemon zest for a bright and fruity muffin. And in the summer, you can add peaches and cinnamon for a delicious summer treat.
Great beverages to pair with coffee cake muffins
Coffee cake muffins are a perfect match for a cup of coffee. The rich and bold flavors of coffee complement the sweetness of the muffins. A medium to dark roast coffee with a hint of chocolate or nutty flavor pairs well with the cinnamon and brown sugar in the muffins. If you prefer a lighter roast, a fruity and acidic coffee can balance the sweetness of the muffins.
If you are not a coffee drinker, tea is a great alternative. A black tea with a strong flavor such as Earl Grey or English Breakfast can pair well with the muffins. The tannins in black tea can help cut through the sweetness of the muffins. For a lighter tea, try a green tea with floral notes. The light and refreshing taste of green tea can complement the cinnamon and nutmeg in the muffins.
Coffee cake muffins are also great with cold beverages. Iced coffee or iced tea can be a refreshing pairing. For a creamier option, try a cold latte or a milkshake. The milk and ice cream can balance the sweetness of the muffins. Alternatively, a glass of cold milk can be a simple and classic pairing.
Remember, the key to a perfect pairing is to balance the flavors of the muffins with the beverage. Experiment with different flavors and find your perfect match.
Storage and Freshness
Coffee cake muffins are best stored in an airtight container at room temperature. They can last up to three days on the counter, but their freshness will begin to decline after the first day. If you plan on storing them for longer than three days, it is best to refrigerate them.
Refrigeration can help extend the freshness of coffee cake muffins. Place them in an airtight container or sealable plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator for up to five days. Before consuming, allow them to come to room temperature to improve their texture and flavor.
Coffee cake muffins can be frozen for up to two months. Wrap them individually in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place them in a freezer-safe container or sealable plastic bag. When ready to eat, allow them to thaw at room temperature for a few hours or microwave them for a quick defrosting. Avoid refreezing thawed muffins as it can affect their quality.
What to serve with coffee cake muffins
Coffee cake muffins are a delicious treat that can be enjoyed any time of day. Here are a few serving suggestions to make the most of your muffins:
- Breakfast: Pair your coffee cake muffin with a cup of coffee or tea for a quick and easy breakfast on-the-go. Add a dollop of yogurt or a spread of cream cheese to make it even more satisfying.
- Brunch: Serve coffee cake muffins alongside fresh fruit, yogurt, and a quiche for a simple and elegant brunch spread.
- Dessert: Warm up your muffin and top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of caramel sauce for a decadent dessert.
- Snack: Pack a coffee cake muffin in your lunchbox or enjoy one as an afternoon snack with a glass of milk or a cup of tea.
More recipes to try
Coffee Cake Muffins
For the cinnamon swirl:
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
For the streusel topping:
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons melted butter
For the muffins:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar packed
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup buttermilk see note 1
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the vanilla icing:
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon milk
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
Make the cinnamon sugar and streusel
- Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon for the cinnamon swirl together in a small dish. Set aside
- In a small bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon for the streusel topping. Add the melted butter and stir it in using a fork until the streusel is wet and forms clumps.
- Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over each muffin.
Make the muffin batter
- Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon to a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine the dry ingredients.
- In a separate mixing bowl, combine the melted butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Stir well until the sugars and butter are well combined.
- Add the eggs to the wet ingredients and whisk them in.
- Add the buttermilk, sour cream and vanilla to the wet ingredients. Stir until the mixture is smooth with no lumps.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Fold them together just until the batter is nice and smooth.
Assemble the muffins
- Using a small cookie scoop, scoop about 1.5 tablespoons of batter into each muffin liner.
- Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture you made earlier evenly onto each muffin, forming a cinnamon sugar layer over the muffin batter.
- Spoon another 1.5 tablespoons of batter into each muffin tin over the cinnamon sugar layer.
Bake the muffins
- Bake the muffins at 425 degrees F for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, turn the oven down to 350 degrees F. Continue to bake the muffins for 10-15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- While the muffins bake, make the vanilla icing. Mix together the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk in a small bowl until no lumps remain.
- When the muffins are done, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from the tin. Spoon icing over the muffins and enjoy!