Brown Sugar-Topped Cinnamon-Sugar Coffee Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze

Cinnamon-sugar toast with lots of butter is one of my favorite comfort foods. It makes me feel so cozy.

I took those warm and fuzzy flavors, and baked them into this coffee cake.

Brown Sugar-Topped Cinnamon-Sugar Coffee Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze - Fast, Easy, No-Mixer Recipe on

The cake is soft and fluffy, with a slightly crunchy topping, and the drippy glaze seals the deal.

Between the cinnamon-and-sugar laden cake batter, the buttery brown sugar topping, and the vanilla cream cheese glaze, it’s my idea of the perfect coffee cake. Take that, Entenmann’s.


Brown Sugar-Topped Cinnamon-Sugar Coffee Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze - Fast, Easy, No-Mixer Recipe on

I made the cake, using my favorite foolproofone-bowleasy cake base. It comes together with a whisk, no mixer needed, and is simple enough to be made at a moment’s notice.

I made a Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake along these lines last year, and it’s been very popular with readers, but this one is even easier and more streamlined.

I love to bake because it’s a creative outlet and it helps me relax, but only if the recipe isn’t overly complicated or fussy, and this coffee cake starts with a bowl of dry ingredients and a bowl of wet. Pour the wet over the dry, stir, pour into a pan, top with the brown sugar mixture, and bake. Nice and easy.

Brown Sugar-Topped Cinnamon-Sugar Coffee Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze - Fast, Easy, No-Mixer Recipe on

Since I loathe dry coffee cake, I used a trifecta of tricks to keep it super soft, moist, and tender: Buttermilk, Greek yogurt, and oil.

Buttermilk helps keep cakes soft, springy, bouncy, tender, with the perfect balance of density and fluffiness. The results are unparalleled. You can make buttermilk by souring your own milk. Add about 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice to 1/2 cup milk, wait for 10 minutes for it to curdle, then use as indicated.

If you don’t routinely keep buttermilk on hand, I highly recommend this Powdered Buttermilk. If you don’t use buttermilk much, but sometimes see a recipe that needs a half cup, but because you think you won’t use the rest of the jug before it goes bad, you opt of trying the recipe, then this powder is your new best friend. Shelf stable, keeps for ages.

Brown Sugar-Topped Cinnamon-Sugar Coffee Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze - Fast, Easy, No-Mixer Recipe on

To make sure the cake has a nice pop of cinnamon flavor, I used one tablespoon cinnamon in the cake batter, and there’s one teaspoon in the topping.

For a cinnamon fiend like me it’s perfect and I don’t think too intense, but if you’re more sensitive to cinnamon, you may wish to dial it down, possibly even halving it.

Brown Sugar-Topped Cinnamon-Sugar Coffee Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze - Fast, Easy, No-Mixer Recipe on

After whisking together the easy cake batter and turning it out into the pan, add the buttery brown sugar topping.

When you mix up the topping, it looks like streusel topping, with some pea-sized clumps and some sandy bits. However, while baking, the brown sugar and butter melt, and the topping turns into a caramelized wall of brown sugar. Best tasting wall ever.

Brown Sugar-Topped Cinnamon-Sugar Coffee Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze - Fast, Easy, No-Mixer Recipe on

The simple vanilla cream cheese glaze is the literal icing on the cake. Sweet and light, with a slight tang, and it’s the perfect contrast to the warming cinnamon and nutmeg flavors. If you don’t have cream cheese on hand, you can use butter instead.

The cake is springy, bouncy, and very moist, with just enough density to give it some heft and dimension, while the contrasting brown sugar top layer is buttery, firm, crispy and flakey.

Brown Sugar-Topped Cinnamon-Sugar Coffee Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze - Fast, Easy, No-Mixer Recipe on

It’s the perfect cake for a brunch, on Christmas morning, or just because it’s a Wednesday. It’s cake I want to eat on the couch, curled up with a blanket, with a book in one hand, and a mug of hot coffee in the other.

My ultimate (pipe) dream is to be served this cake as a breakfast-in-bed cake, but I’d have to believe in Santa Claus in order for that to be a reality.

Brown Sugar-Topped Cinnamon-Sugar Coffee Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze - Fast, Easy, No-Mixer Recipe on

Print Recipe

Brown Sugar-Topped Cinnamon-and-Sugar Coffee Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze

The cake is soft, fluffy, light, and very moist, with just enough density to give it some heft and dimension. In contrast to the cake, the slightly crunchy brown sugar top layer is buttery, firm, crispy and flakey, and nicely complements the springy, bouncy cake. The cake is fast and easy to make, and the batter is whisked together in minutes, without needing to use a mixer. I love cinnamon, and the cake is pleasantly spiced, but if you're more sensitive to cinnamon, you may wish to dial it down, possibly even halving it. The vanilla cream cheese glaze is sweet and light, with a slight tang, and the perfect contrast to the warming cinnamon and nutmeg flavors. It's the perfect cake for a brunch, on Christmas morning, or for a rainy day because it's easy to make on a whim. It's the type of cake I want to eat on the couch, curled up with a blanket, with a book in one hand, and a mug of hot coffee in the other.

Yield: one 8x8-inch pan, 9 generous pieces

Prep Time: 10 mintues

Cook Time: about 35 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, to allow for cooling


Brown Sugar Topping
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (half of 1 stick)
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons Gold Medal All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup Gold Medal all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon (yes tablespoon, not teaspoon)
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk (or Powdered Buttermilk, use 2 tablespoons with the dry ingredients + 1/2 cup water added with the wet)
1/3 cup vanilla Greek yogurt (plain Greek yogurt or sour cream may be substituted)
3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze, optional but recommended
about 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened (light cream cheese is okay; 2 tablespoons butter may be substituted)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
splash cream or milk, as necessary


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. Brown Sugar Topping - Combine all ingredients for topping in a medium bowl, and mash together and toss with a fork until pea-sized clumps form. There will be some sandy bits and some small clumps; set bowl aside.
  3. Cake - In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, optional salt; set aside.
  4. In a large measuring cup or separate small bowl, whisk together the next 5 wet ingredients (through vanilla).
  5. Add the wet mixture to the dry, mixing lightly with a spoon until just combined. Small lumps will be present and this is okay. Don't overmix or try to stir them smooth; set aside. Batter will be on the thicker side.
  6. Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.
  7. Evenly sprinkle brown sugar topping mixture over cake batter.
  8. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. Watch your cake, not the clock, and always bake until done, whatever that means in your climate and oven, given the ingredients you used.
  9. Place pan on a wire rack and allow cake to cool for at least 30 minutes before optionally glazing. While cake cooks, makes the glaze.
  10. Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze - Combine all ingredients for glaze in a small bowl and whisk together until smooth. Depending on desired consistency, you may need to play with the sugar and milk ratios slightly. Alternatively, this buttery vanilla glaze or this browned butter glaze are also great.
  11. Evenly drizzle the glaze over the cake before slicing and serving. If you only plan to consume a small portion of this cake or plan to keep it around for a few days, you may wish to glaze it in portions and as needed, rather than all at once or in advance. Cake will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days. I'm comfortable storing glazed cakes at room temperature, but if you're not, glaze only the portion you plan to consume immediately.
Only Eats

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This post was brought to you by Gold Medal Flour. Recipe and opinions are my own.

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What’s your favorite coffee cake? 


  1. A “wall” of brown sugar? Sounds like heaven. I love your way with words.

  2. Give me 100 of these brown sugar bricks! I can build a wall of delicious fall flavors. I am such a sucker for poured icings, they are so simple but have added a real pop to your cake

  3. OMG every pic made my mouth water all that much more haha. I am so in need of a sugar fix. Thanks Averie haha xox

  4. Streusel topping and cream cheese glaze can each hold their own–but together on a cake…is a match made in heaven! I’d be more than willing to pull out my Vietnamese cinnamon for this recipe! Such a lovely recipe collection of coffee cakes–everything always looks so incredibly tempting.

    • Vietnamese cinnamon – I don’t know why I didn’t think to use mine! I guess b/c I reserve it for highly prized creations (to the point I forget to use it – like breaking out a super special perfume..ha!) but it would be great in this!

  5. Mmm so fabulous. Coffee cake is seriously one of my favorite treats!!

  6. I am in love with the look of this cake! Couldn’t be a more perfect looking coffee cake in my opinion. And cinnamon & brown sugar? I’d eat baked goodies with that combo every single day! :)

  7. Let your daughter read this post shortly before Mother’s Day. She’ll get the point. :D

    And this cake looks incredible! Love your trifecta of tricks. Like Ellen, I love your way with words!

  8. I can only imagine how ah-may-zing your house smelled while this baked with that brown sugar topping! I love the addition of Greek yogurt…and that vanilla cream cheese glaze? That is the way to a woman’s heart. Girl, this is all kinda fab-you-freaking-lous!

  9. i love a good coffee cake!

  10. brown sugar, then cinnamon sugar then vanilla glaze! Wow, i mean what more could you ask for in a cake! i love it!

  11. Now all I want for breakfast is some cinnamon-sugar, brown sugar streusel topping, vanilla anything, and cream cheese glaze. ;) This coffee cake looks incredible Averie and combines some of my favorite flavors! Buttermilk AND greek yogurt in the cake – I can literally see how moist it is. Perfect. Love it.

  12. Cinnamon toast was one of my favorite childhood breakfasts, and I love the idea of turning it into an (easy) grown up cake. Entemann’s better watch out!

  13. Love me a good coffee cake — and this one looks EPIC! Love all of your little tips to make it extra wonderful!

  14. Can I have a slice of this for my breakfast in bed cake? I like where your head is at on that one!! i can’t pass up a good coffee cake!

  15. Girl if I ever want something sweet, I just come to your blog. You always have something sweet that is so easy to whip together. I mean what busy mom doesn’t love that. I bet you Avery is going to grow up to be a pastry chef and she won’t need to go to culinary school becuase you will teach her all she knows. You know, you should think about teaching cooking classes to kids. There are a few moms out here that do cooking camps in the summer and on breaks, and they love it and make some pretty good money! Just a thought as Avery gets older. They don’t teach little kids, but kids 10 and up who can pretty much handle themselves in the kitchen! I hope you’re having a great week ;) xoxo, Jackie

  16. Averie, this is the moistest-looking coffee cake I have seen in a LONG time. Probably since your last coffee cake recipe! I love a good cinnamon coffee cake, and that vanilla cream cheese glaze?? I could literally drink it. Yum.
    Pinned it! :D

  17. Oh me…the toppings… holy heaven!! And I love that you used all possible things to make it moist… I also can’t do dry cake so give me all the trifectas, fourfectas, fivefectas that you’ve got! ;-)

  18. So…epic fail. :( I did not take into account the amount of baking powder in this recipe, coupled with the acid in the milk & yogurt. I needed “treats” so made a double recipe & portioned into my “bite size” loaf pans. Only a heaping Tbsp batter per loaf. Added the “crumb” and popped them in the oven. Within 9 minutes, they had completely overflowed every little loaf. The crumb sank away & now I have tins full of rectangular coffee cake mushrooms. Living proof that everything is a learning experience. Back to the drawing board. While I’m sure these will be yummy on this snowy day (& I know what I’m having for lunch), I still need to make something for tomorrow. Your pictures, as always, are beautiful! I’m very visual & had this picture in my head of these perfect little rectangular glazed crumb cakes. So it goes :)

    • Anytime you start tinkering with a recipe and deviating from how it was written, i.e. doubling it, baking it smaller pan sizes or different pan sizes, there is always room for error and yes this batter rises like a champ and not surprised it overflowed small pans. Like you said, baking is a learning experience. If you make the recipe as written and don’t change a thing (just do what I did) I know it works, and works well – since I adapted this cake base from like 4 other previous cake bases – and it’s a keeper. I just added the streusel-ey bits this time but the overall base is pretty much the same as prior efforts. I know what it’s like to want something that you envision in your head though!

    • Oh, it works….I agree. I won’t tell you how many of those “little cakes” I had for lunch ;-) ……oh-my-not-so-overly-sweet-brown-sugary-goodness! You’re right, this is a keeper. I’ll save the little pans for something a bit more dense & keep this recipe to a standard pan. You’re right, this one’s a keeper. I can’t wait to share it with others. Keep up the good work. Love your blog.

    • I baked these as mini loaves, filling each halfway with batter, and had absolutely no problem.

    • Oh that’s great to hear! Thanks for sharing!

  19. Looks really moist and delicious! Now just need to grab a cup of coffee…

  20. I love a good moist coffee cake! This one sounds amazing!

  21. How did you know that a cream cheese glaze is my ULTIMATE weakness?!

  22. What a lovely cake, Averie! The glaze sounds perfect! Pinned!

  23. You are making my dream cake here like you I am a total cinnamon fiend, I try to add it into everything. This cake… wow I love using buttermilk in cakes its only recently become widely available here in the UK, which is a good thing as it was always so difficult hunting around speciality shops just to try and buy it, but now all the major supermarket chains carry it; Yeah!!! Can’t wait to try this one :)

  24. What a pretty cake! Pinning to try soon!

  25. You know I love cinnamon – wish I had a slice of this cake with my afternoon coffee. Pinned!

  26. Averie, I’m a fiend for cinnamon too so this is perfect. I love that you use the word “cozy” when describing these flavours because that’s exactly how I feel looking at this cake. I want to be in my pjs, with a big hot mug of tea, watching Christmas movies and eating this pan of cake. Especially when you say magic words like these –> “However, while baking, the brown sugar and butter melt, and the topping turns into a caramelized wall of brown sugar” Wowza!

  27. Thank you for another delicious-looking coffeecake & one without sticks of butter in it.

    • Amen to the butter. I mean who doesn’t love it, but I don’t like to workout, that much, to want to run off 2 sticks of butter :) Sometimes I wonder why ppl just keep adding so much when there are other ways (And better I find) to creating a soft, moist, and flavorful cake!

  28. I have a weakness for coffee cake. as in, I can eat it at all hours of the day! And frequently do!

    ps A wall of brown sugar is the way to my heart :)

  29. I am in looooove with this. Coffee cake is my dream. :)

  30. This looks so yummy! Love all the cinnamon in it!

  31. Yum Averie! The frosting on top is calling me! It looks just amazing!

  32. What??! There is no Santa Claus?! How could there be a cake that looks and sounds this delicious and be no santa?! :) Buttermilk, oil and yogurt??!! I bet this is so moist and absolutely delicious!

  33. I just love a good coffee cake…and always with glaze! Love this!

  34. Wow! Your trifecta for a soft cake sounds delicious! I’m a sucker for anything with a glaze too, I’m definitely dying to give this a try!

  35. yessssss this absolutely looks like pure comfort!!! I wish I had it for tomorrow’s breakfast, mmm

  36. Now this is what I call coffee cake! This is a stunner!

  37. I must be *slightly* off because I love the drama of complicated, fussy recipes. However, I do crave the ease and simplicity of mixer-free cakes (brownies, cookies, bars etc…). This looks wonderful! You had me at Entenmann’s. :D

  38. I would be the brat who picked allllll of the crumbly, buttery, brown sugar topping off of this coffee cake :D I can’t resist the stuff! That vanilla cream cheese glaze sounds heavenly, too. These are essentially cinnamon rolls in loaf form, yet still every bit as dangerous!

  39. Very good! Thanks for pointing me to this recipe. Today is my day off so thought, why not give it a try, and I’m very glad I did! My husband said ” thumbs up”, I think I will give the cinnamon roll coffee cake a try next, I’ll let you know if I do. This recipe = YUMMY ! Good bye bisquick coffee cake ;) thanks again!

  40. Made this this past weekend, and it was AWESOME! Thanks, Averie!

  41. Cinnamon-Sugar Coffee Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze sounds delectable and amazing. Thanks for the post

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