Brenda Crawshaw’s “Famous” Coffee Cake

I have made this coffee cake countless times and it ALWAYS garners requests for the recipe. I don’t know why this one in particular is so popular – I’ve tweaked the heck out of it so maybe I just got lucky with all the right combos. I make this for new neighbors, new moms, when I visit as a guest, for wakes, for get well wishes……there’s pretty much no occasion for which this wouldn’t be welcomed. Make in large muffin cups for individual coffee cakes!


  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsps cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ cup chopped nuts, optional (I leave them out when I gift this)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt (halve if you used salted butter)
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter at room temp
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs at room temp
  • 1 cup sour cream at room temp
  • 2 tsps real vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350. You can bake this in a springform pan, a round cake pan, a square pan, double the recipe and make it in a 13″ X 9″, you can bake it as muffins…’s VERY flexible. Spray with cake pan spray or grease and flour.

In a small bowl combine the DARK brown sugar (it REALLY makes a difference so get the dark but if you are stuck the other will do!), the cinnamon and cardamom and the nuts, if you are using them; set aside.

Whisk together the dry ingredients in another bowl.

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, until it’s almost white. Mix in vanilla (I measure with my heart!) and then the eggs, one at a time. Add sour cream and mix until just incorporated. It may look very curdled at this point but don’t worry – it’s like when your hair is in rollers and you have on a face mask – it will turn out GORGEOUS.

Mix in flour mixture until just mixed. Over mixing at this point will reduce the tenderness. Spoon half of batter into prepared pan and sprinkle half of the brown sugar mixture over batter. Repeat layers. Swirl layers together with the dullest knife you have. Lick the knife. Swoon.

Bake about an hour or until a toothpick JUST comes out dry. Do NOT overbake. The time will depend on the size and depth of the pan so start checking a single batch at about 45 minutes.

Let cool before wrapping. Prepare yourself for the accolades.

Copyright Brenda Crawshaw 2023, not to be reproduced without express written permission