Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze

I love cinnamon rolls but they’re a bit time consuming to make. This cake is not.

No actual cinnamon rolls are made for this coffee cake so for those of you who still have bread-with-yeast fears, you’re safe. Instead, this cake just tastes like a big warm buttery cinnamon roll, without any of the time or effort that goes into making them.

To make the cake, begin by beating together butter and sugar, and after it’s nice and fluffy, a solid amount of sour cream is added to the batter. The sour cream ensures this cake stays moist and tender. Too often coffee cakes are wickedly dry and crumbly and they could literally be called crumble cakes, and that wouldn’t be a compliment. I think they get their name because most of them are so dry that coffee is mandatory in order to wash down the dry crumbly mess.

In addition to the sour cream, I added a bit of canola oil because oil keeps cakes moist and soft. I wanted to ensure this cake was anything but dry and pulled out all the tricks.

Pour the cake batter in a nine-inch springform pan and make sure the pan you’re using is at least three inches high. If you don’t have a springform pan, the cake can be baked in a nine-inch square pan, but do not use a nine-inch round cake pan as round cake pans hold less overall volume than square pans. Plus, they’re typically only an inch or two tall and you’d have a cake-tastrophe.


All good cinnamon rolls have a scrumptious filling that’s buttery and cinnamon-sugary and after making the cake batter, I made a mixture that worked double-duty, both as the filling for the cinnamon rolls as well as a stresuel-like topping layer.

I have a fondness for streusel and crumble toppings and could make a meal with just those cinnamon and brown sugar buttery bits that always seem to be in far too short of supply. With this cake, there’s plentiful streusel, forming pits and valleys over the surface of the cake, as well as being woven throughout the interior.

To make the filling-topping mixture, combine a very soft, almost melted, stick of butter with one cup of brown sugar and hearty pinch of cinnamon. The butter needs to be very soft in order to be whipped together with the brown sugar and cinnamon but it shouldn’t be fully liquified. The butter can either be softened for an hour or more at room temperature on the counter, or you can achieve the same goal in about twelve seconds in the microwave. After beating it together, it will look like a ridiculously large amount of a gritty, granular substance and you’ll wonder if this could be right. It is.

Use the filling-topping mixture as if you were going to frost a cake, and ‘frost’ the cake batter by spreading the mixture over the top of it. After it’s all nice and smooth, you’re going to make a mess of it. Take a butter knife or table knife and marble the mixture throughout the cake batter, going up and back; repeat. Back and forth, back and forth. I got pretty aggressive with my up-and-backing in order to really drive the mixture into the interior cake so the ‘cinnamon rolls’ had plenty of filling.

And as a baking precaution, place the springform pan on a baking sheet in case your pan doesn’t have a perfectly tight seal. Nothing like the smell of cake batter as it drips onto the bottom of the oven and chars. Whenever I bake with a springform pan I always place it on top of a baking sheet as just-in-case insurance.

As the baking time draws near a close, be sure to keep an eye on the cake because the butter and brown sugar will be prone to burning. Caramelization and crisping up is one thing, burning is another. Because ovens vary and so do preferences, I recommend keeping a very watchful eye on the cake and hanging around the kitchen in the last ten to fifteen minutes of baking.

Cinnamon rolls are not complete with frosting or glaze, and I love cream cheese frosting on cinnamon rolls. While the cake baked, I made an easy cream cheese glaze to drizzle on top. Feel free to skip the drizzle and use more of a pouring technique, which is my preferred method. I like a little cake with my frosting and after the pictures were done, there was a frosting freeflow free-for-all.

The cake tastes like a cinnamon roll, but in a cinnamon-roll-meets-cake way. Minus the effort or extended waiting period that goes into making cinnamon rolls.

It has the perfect balance of density, not too dense like a pound cake, but not too airy or light like an angel food, and it was just how I like coffee cakes. And between the sour cream, oil, and butter this cake stayed plenty moist. The butter used in both the cake batter and in the filling-topping mixture also helped to emulate the buttery, smooth, rich qualities of cinnamon rolls.

I used cinnamon twice, both in the batter as well as in the filling-topping mixture. I wanted to know I was eating a cinnamon roll or cinnamon roll-cake, operative word being cinnamon. I am a big cinnamon fan and find most recipes to be lackluster in cinnamon oomph and and intensity. That’s not the case here and if you’re a person who blindly doubles the cinnamon in most recipes like I tend to do, taste the batter before doing so because it’s balanced, but quite well-spiced.

The sweet, creamy, and slightly tangy cream cheese glaze gives this version of a cinnamon roll extra authenticity. It was especially satisfying watching the glaze sink into the nooks and crannies of the slightly crunchy and irregular surface layer, knowing that some of it would penetrate into the body of the cake. Those are my favorite bites.

It would be a perfect cake to serve at a brunch, holiday party, baby or bridal shower, or any time you need a solid cake, without any solid work. The cake, from start to finish, is a one hour project, including baking time. Not too shabby.

I really enjoyed this cake, but I had no idea that Scott was going to love it as much as he did and he was genuinely disappointed when it was gone. Everyone here clearly loves their cinnamon rolls.

Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze - The great taste of cinnamon

Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Warm buttery cinnamon rolls, a moist and dense cake with a crumble topping, and cream cheese glaze are all favorites of mine, and I rolled all of them into this one easy-to-make cake. You don't actually need to make cinnamon rolls to make the cake. Rather, the finish cake just tastes like a cinnamon roll. Although there are three components - the cake, filling-topping, and the glaze - this is a very fast and straightforward cake to make and isn't fussy at all. In just one hour, including baking time, it's ready and in that one hour, your house will smell amazing while it bakes.
Serves: one 9-by-3-inch cake
  • For the Cake
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened (half of one stick)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup sour cream (Greek yogurt may be substituted)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, optional and to taste
  • For the Filling-Topping
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, extremely soft and almost melted
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • For the Glaze
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened (whipped or light are okay)
  • 2 tablespoons cream or milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup+ confectioners' sugar, sifted is ideal
  1. For the Cake - Preheat oven to 350F and prepare a 9-inch springform pan (at least 3 inches high; a 9-inch square baking pan may be substituted if it's at least 3 inches in height; don't use a 9-inch round cake pan because it's too shallow) by spraying well with floured cooking spray (I use Pam for Baking) or grease and flour the pan; set aside.
  2. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter, granulated sugar, and cream together until pale, light, and fluffy, about 3 minutes on medium-high to high speed. Add the sour cream, eggs, oil, vanilla, cinnamon, and beat until smooth and incorporated, about 3 minutes on medium-high to high speed. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and beat until just incorporated and batter is smooth, about 1 minute on medium speed. Spread batter into prepared pan; set aside.
  3. For the Filling-Topping - In a medium-microwave safe bowl, add the butter and heat on high power until it just begins to melt, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and beat with a spoon or whisk until combined. Spread filling over the top of the cake batter in an even, smooth, flat layer, as if you're frosting a cake. Then, using a table knife, swirl back and forth to marble the filling into the cake batter, going over the cake and going up and back a few times. I swirled fairly aggressively for about 1 minute, in order to try to drive the filling deeper into the cake batter. Place pan on a baking sheet (as insurance in case your springform pan doesn't have a perfect seal) and bake for about 45 to 50 minutes, or until topping has set and a toothpick inserted into the center of cake comes out clean. Note that in the final minutes of baking, topping may have a tendency to burn near the edges as the butter browns and the brown sugar caramelizes; watch cake closely. Allow cake to cool in pan and rest on baking sheet for at least 30 minutes before glazing it, or before removing it from the pan and serving.
  4. For the Glaze - In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, cream, vanilla and whisk until combined and smooth. Slowly add the confectioners' sugar, whisking to incorporate and until smooth. Based on desired glaze consistency, playing with the sugar and cream ratios may be necessary. Evenly drizzle the glaze over cake and serve. Note - If you prefer to refrigerate cream-cheese based glaze, you may wish to only glaze individual pieces of cake immediately prior to serving them and store the glaze in small container in the refrigerator, as opposed to refrigerating the entire glazed cake, which will cause it to dry out. Or, you can glaze the cake and store it at room temperature anyway, as everyone has different food storage comfort levels. Cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Related Recipes:

Cinnamon Swirl Bread – As close to a cinnamon roll as a bread can get and still be called bread rather than dessert. Rich, sweet, and light. This bread is for the cinnamon lover’s and is abundantly flavored with cinnamon, which is used twice in the bread recipe, and again in the cinnamon-sugar butter I serve it with

Cinnamon Bun Pie – These rolls use a shortcut and they’re ready from start to finish in less than 30 minutes and they give Cinnabons a run for their money. I’m working on yeast-based cinnamon rolls next

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread with Cinnamon Sugar Butter – If you’ve never made bread before, this is a goofproof, foolprood, no-knead bread recipe. You’ll never have a need for storebought English muffins again, especially because this bread is spiked with cinnamon-sugar and raisins

Baked Cinnamon Bun Donuts with Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze – A cross between a Krispy Kreme donut and a Cinnabon cinnamon roll. Yeast-free, easy, and although I haven’t tried making them in a muffin pan, if you don’t have a donut pan, try them as muffins

Cinnamon Sugar Crust Cream Cheese and Jelly Danish Squares – Tastes like an Entenmann’s danish, with a crispy and crunchy cinnamon-sugar coating, and is filled with smooth cream cheese and jelly. The squares use a shortcut and are a snap to make

Cinnamon Oatmeal Date Bars with Chocolate Chunks (no-bake, vegan, gluten-free) – The two types of chocolate used on top is optional, and if removed the bars are a very healthy vegan and gluten-free portable granola bar that tastes like a bowl of cinnamon-flavored oatmeal

Cinnamon Raisin Bread Smoothie (vegan, GF) – Tastes like drinking a glass of cinnamon-raisin bread, although no actual bread was used. Close, but not quite

Tell me about your favorite cinnamon rolls or cinnamon roll-inspired recipes.

I have been researching cinnamon roll recipes to make actual cinnamon rolls like it’s my job. Like chocolate chip cookies, everyone seems to have a favorite recipe, way of making them, using varying techniques and ingredients. Between the dough itself, the filling, kneading techniques, and batch sizes, I am in ‘options’ and choices overload. But it’s been a fun research project.

Do you have a favorite coffee cake?

If you have a great recipe, tell me about it.

Thanks for the Tiny Food Party Cookbook Giveaway entries for three winners  – winners announced next post

148 comments on “Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze”

  1. oh my goodness Averie, I am in pure heaven. As I sit here this morning – usually waiting until right before work to eat breakfast – I am literally STARVING for a piece of this coffee cake. I adore coffee cakes a=have been wanting to make a coffee cake muffin for some time now. The thick streusel “frosting” layer is really eye-catching – so beautiful, thick, crumbly – and we both know it is the BEST part of any muffin/coffee cake. I love cinnamon, especially recipes where cinnamon is the star flavor – which is why cinnamon swirl bread has always been a favorite of mine. One bite of this soft cake and I would be in heaven this morning – or any morning! Pinning, I’m making this when I am home for the holidays, no questions asked.

    • Knowing you, you would LOVE this. It’s got the stresuel, and lots of it; flavor and texture of the brown sugar, plenty of cinnamon, and the frosting :) It’s really got lots going on but it was really not bad at all to make! In under an hour, start to finish, it’s all yours :)

      Thanks for the Pin, too!

  2. I’ve never made cinnamon rolls because I don’t have the patience. However, I love coffee cake (I want to eat the topping alone ;)). This is a great way to get that cinnamon roll flavor without all of the time.

  3. I absolutely love all things cinnamon too. This moist cake with the crunchy streusel (that is so thick!!) is perfect, then topped with a glaze? YES YES YES please!!

  4. I’m sorry…I’ve drooled a bit on my keyboard.

  5. Sounds like an amazing cake!! I’m making brunch for a group this weekend and this sounds just perfect! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Coffee cakes definitely remind me of holidays. My mom used to make one each Christmas for my sister. I found a GF recipe and mom made it for her a couple of years ago – turned out really fantastic actually. Love the drizzle of glaze.

  7. I am in love with this cake! It looks wonderful. Streusel is always my favorite part, so when I’m writing recipes, I always include tons of it. I also love when the glaze soaks into the cake too. I have yet to make cinnamon rolls, though they are on my list, but the sticky buns from Flour Bakery are out of this world.

  8. This will be perfect for my next monthly breakfast potluck – i’m drooling!

  9. I have been enjoying lots of coffee cake around here. This cake looks perfect with a few steamy cups of coffee!

  10. I love cinnamon rolls but don’t have the patience to make them. This is so getting made over the holidays!

  11. Fabulous, fabulous! I need a slice.

  12. Oh my FACE that looks ridiculously good.

  13. I love the recipe, and I already think of making it for my friends I am visiting tomorrow. I haven’t used canola oil in baking, not yet. Most of the time I add either olive, grapeseed or sunflower oil. Next time I shop I’ll get a bottle of canola to try.
    Good thing I have family and friends to bake for… :) Come see my apple pie with Grand Marnier… :)

    • Olive in sweet applications isn’t really a good call for me personally. Some people do it, but I just don’t want something with that much flavor clouding the taste of the end result. Grapeseed is neutral and would work but I can buy a huge bottle of canola for like 1.99 and use it in everything for months…so that’s just what I do!

      • I agree on strong flavor of olive oil. I guess if you grew up with it, you don’t even notice the flavor. :) As of canola, personally I try to stay away from it unless it’s organic because of genetic modification (95% of canola is genetically modified in US). I grew up in family of two biologists, and their friends are biologists and doctors, and my mother, especially when we moved to US, keeps telling me: “stay away from genetically modified food! If you don’t think about you, think of your kids!” in the tone that is hard to forget even when she is not saying it. I guess, she imprinted this message well… :) and made me a very picky food buyer. One time I even send an e-mail to TJ’s customer service about some product. They were nice to send me a detailed e-mail back! :)

      • This sounds like my cup of tea. I LOVE cinnamon rolls (but ashamed to say I have never actually made them!).

        I also find this thread on baking oils interesting. I actually use an organic grapeseed as my primary baking oil, but once in a while use coconut (when I want some taste added).

      • I try to bake with the least noticeable flavor unless I *Want* it to taste like something, i.e. coconut oil. Love it but not everyone does so I have to be careful when baking for others that everyone is okay with it being present.

  14. I absolutely love coffee cake and that drizzle…amazing!

  15. You had me at “Cream Cheese Glaze.” YUM! Seriously, someone needs to invite me to their bridal shower or their baby shower or heck, just a random Sunday brunch so I have a reason to bake this deliciousness :) Also, I love the idea of placing a pan under your springform pan – I never would have thought of that!

  16. The streusel and frosting looks wonderful–I love the thickness of that layer! My boss’s mother makes the best coffee cake I have ever had but I don’t have the recipe…and I think every female in our office wants it! Even my gluten intolerant friend is willing to suffer a little for a piece. I would love to try this because it seems somewhat similar. Another great recipe Averie!

    • The thick layer is just awesome and adds so much texture and flavor, love it Your boss’ mom’s cake…okay you have to get the recipe b/c things like that are worth their weight in gold. I researched recipes like CRAZY for this one, piecing together many versions for it before I ended up doing what I did with this one!

  17. If I weren’t on my way out the door in 10 minutes, I’d have this in the oven right now! It looks and sounds fantastic!!

    Did you use the good cinnamon? ;)

  18. Oh my goodness, Averie! I’m seriously swooning over here!
    This is perfect for the holiday brunch I’m having this weekend!!!

  19. All of a sudden my coffee mug is moving towards the screen as in pulled by a magnet! :) This cake looks too tempting not to make it!

  20. Sheer, SHEER genius!! I seriously love everything about this; for some reason, I really prefer baking cakes more than just about anything else – they feel really simple and straightforward to me as well. So I just love that you’ve converted a classic roll recipe into a cake. And the streusel… sakes ALIVE THE STREUSEL!!! As I was saying, I seriously love everything about this cake…

    • All that streusel is the best…seriously it just forms this wall of a layer and is just divine. Love it and I feel the same way about cakes but for some reason people think cookies are easier and seem to do better. But in reality, one big cake is wayyyyy easier than 24 cookies, cupcakes, etc…the one big pan principle rather than fussy individual stuff!

  21. Wow. This looks amazing. I bet it makes your house smell incredible.

  22. By the time I finished reading this post, and mopping up the drool from my keyboard, this cake had muscled its way to the top of my ‘must bake’ list, thanks Averie, looks amazing!

  23. Your recipes are beautiful averie!! xx

  24. this is SO gorgeous!! I am a coffee cake nut! Printing this out ASAP

  25. LOVE the idea of this, you evil genius!

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