Cinnamon Crisp Coffee Cake

cinnamoncrispcoffeecakeEvery year, King Arthur Baking – one of my favorite product makers and recipe sources – publishes their “recipe of the year.” For 2023, it’s this cinnamon crisp coffee cake, an aromatic creation that I already plan to tweak.

No offense to the fine folks at KAB; they are genius bakers and know far more about baking than I ever will. But the recipe includes a cocoa-cinnamon filling, and for me, it was an odd combination. Next time, I think I’d like to use some nutmeg, or maybe some orange zest. But that’s the beauty of baking – once you find a good base recipe, you can tweak it however you like to get the flavors you want.


For the filling

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Vietnamese cinnamon*
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

For the crumb topping

  • 1 cup flour
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Vietnamese cinnamon*
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cake

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk

For the glaze

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 2-3 teaspoons water

*If using regular cinnamon, increase quantity to 1 tablespoon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8 x 8 baking tin with parchment paper, extending over the sides.

Make your filling layer: Combine sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa powder and set aside.

Make your crumb topping: Combine flour, sugar, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add cubed butter and vanilla and rub in with your fingers until no dry spots remain; you should have irregular crumbs varying in size.

Make your batter: In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Add butter and mix on low speed until sandy, about 1-2 minutes. Beat in vanilla and eggs until no dry spots remain; scrape down your bowl, then slowly pour in buttermilk with the mixer running on low speed and mix until batter is smooth.

Pour about 1 1/2 cups of batter into the parchment-lined tin; top with filling in an even layer. Spoon remaining batter over the filling and use an offset spatula to smooth it into an even layer; some of your filling will probably peek through the top of the batter, and that’s okay. Top with crumb mixture, pressing gently to help it stick.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Allow to cool to room temperature, then prepare glaze: In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar and cinnamon; add enough water to make a drizzling consistency. Drizzle over cooled cake. Store at room temperature for a few days; this cake did dry out for me a bit faster than I’d expected, but I think it’s because I kept it in a cake dome instead of tightly wrapped. Makes about 8-10 servings, depending on how generously you slice it.


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