Lemon Streusel Coffeecake: Just my cup of tea.


Have you ever really stopped to think about why we eat and drink certain foods together? So much so that they share a name like tea bread, wine biscuits and, of course, coffeecake.

I mean, everybody knows that some foods just taste better when eaten together, but we rarely stop and wonder why.

Sure, there are deep-down scientific reasons, but I don’t think we need to get too technical. Let’s take coffeecake. Why don’t we call it teacake, or milkcake, or tepidglassofwatercake?

Americans tend to like strong flavors,  having a little sweetness to enhance and offset the bitterness makes for a rich and complex eating experience.

The same can be said for sweet milk and cookies. The fattiness of milk carries the buttery flavors of the cookies so well, and the creaminess makes the crunch and crumb a positive experience.

Try a little experiment some time. Eat a cookie or two with a nice cold glass of milk. Then repeat the experiment with the same kind of cookies, but a glass of water instead. It really is a completely different profile of flavors. It might not be “bad,” but it certainly isn’t the same sensation at all.

The same can be said for coffeecake. Eating it with a glass of milk is a different experience from eating with a cup of coffee.

Or tea, for that matter. Many of us drink decaffeinated fruity flavored teas these days. But would you really want a lemon or raspberry tea with a fruit coffeecake? Or would you like the slight bitter taste of the tannins in orange pekoe to make that sweet bite of streusel and glaze even sweeter?

If I’ve gotten you thinking, wonderful. Let me inspire you further with one of our newer recipes. Charlotte, our catalogue recipe developer, created this refreshing coffeecake not long ago, and it’s a real winner. Try making a panful, then enjoying a piece with coffee, and another with milk, and another with tea, and another with… well, you get the picture. This cake won’t last long, no matter what your beverage of choice.

Here it is, our Lemon Streusel Coffeecake.

First, the streusel. In a medium-sized bowl, combine:

* ¾ cup (3 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
* ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 tablespoon lemon juice powder*
* ¼ teaspoon salt
* ½ cup packed light brown sugar
* 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into ½” pieces
* grated rind (zest) of 1 lemon
* ¾ cup chopped pecans
* *If you don’t have lemon juice powder, increase the grated lemon rind to that of 2 lemons.

Although I adore pecans, when my allergies are acting up I can’t eat them, so I substituted walnuts. Use whichever nut makes you happy.

You can use a pastry blender or a couple of forks to cut the mixture together, but I’m a hands-on baker, so I crumbled everything together until it was moist and slightly sticky.

Set the streusel aside while you make the rest of the cake.

In a small bowl combine:

* 2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* ½ teaspoon salt
* 2 tablespoons lemon juice powder, or the grated rind of 2 lemons
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Set aside while you beat together:

* ½ cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
* ¼ teaspoon lemon oil, optional, for flavor
* 1 cup granulated sugar

When the sugar and butter mixture is light and fluffy beat in:

* 3 large eggs

* 1 cup sour cream

Be sure to stop and scrape down the bowl after each egg. In the above photo, everything looks well combined, but…

When you scrape down the bowl, you can see that a good deal of butter and sugar was clinging to the side of the bowl.

Once the eggs are incorporated, blend in the sour cream, then the  flour mixture. Mix on medium speed just until combined. Over-beating will cause tunnels in your final cake.

Spread the nice, thick batter into a greased 9″ x 13″ x 2″ pan, or a greased 9 to 10 cup tube pan. Sprinkle the prepared streusel over the top of the batter.

Bake at 350°F . The tube pan will take 40 to 45 minutes, the rectangular pan will take about 30 to 35 minutes.

When the cake is nearly done, prepare the glaze by mixing together the lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar. Drizzle the glaze over the warm cake, and enjoy.

One of my favorite parts of this cake is the crunchy nut-lemon combination in the streusel. It’s completely addictive and keeps you coming back for bite after bite. The tang of the icing hits your tongue and you reach for another forkful. Now, where’s my cup of tea?

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Lemon Streusel Coffeecake.

Print just the recipe.

View other great coffeecake blogs: Cinnamon Streusel Coffeecake, 100% Whole Wheat Cranberry Sour Cream Coffeecake,Blueberry Lemon Coffeecake with a-peel.

MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...


  1. MGW960W

    Is there a general rule of thumb for how much the sugar in a recipe such as this can be reduced without affecting the texture of the cake? After a trip overseas, we’re trying to make our sweets taste more like the sweets in the rest of the world, much less sweet than the typical American recipe. It would be helpful if some of the KAF recipes gave a range of amounts for the sugars. The minimum amount would be what is required for the texture and the maximum amount would be for a very sweet taste. Then we could choose without risking ruining the recipe. I’ve successfully reduced the sugar in cookies by about 15 percent, but don’t know where to start on cakes.

    I appreciate the thoughts on foods that taste great together, but it’s not the fattiness in milk that does it. Skim milk is also delicious with cookies!
    Sugar is not just for flavor, it adds moisture and improves texture. You can try to decrease the sugar in your cake recipes by 1/3. To help keep a moist consistency remove 1-2 eggwhites and add 1-2 egg yolks! betsy@kaf

  2. Sue

    Wow, are we on the same wavelength! I was just going to call the hotline about this recipe (saw it in catalogue) and you blog about it!! I dont have the lemon powder on hand and wanted to make this NOW. Thanks for the sub idea for now.

  3. erie

    How much lemon juice and confectioner’s sugar did you use?
    It’s the consistency you are looking for. Bakers choice. Thin or thick. Slowly add the juice while you are whisking to get your desired glaze. betsy@kaf

  4. gaitedgirl

    Yummmmmy!! I don’t drink coffee so this would be Jamie’s morningandnightlyglassofmilkcake :) (I better have strong bones considering how much milk I drink!) I think an orange or key lime coffeecake/milkcake would be spectacular with this recipe! Or even a strawberry with orange streusel cake… the possibilities are endless!

    (I have to say I love “tepidglassofwatercake” lol)

  5. JuliaJ

    Oops, the “Lemon Streusel Coffeecake” link at the bottom of the blog
    doesn’t work–the “Print” link does and so does the link at the top of the blog. (Just my luck to click on the dead link, oh well.)

    Looks yummy, perfect (and quick) to make for Easter brunch! MMmmmm.

    Sorry about that, Julia – it’s all set now. Enjoy! PJH

  6. korova

    Question… the recipe page mentions sour cream. Is that missing from the blog recipe, or did you not use it?

    Hi – MJ is away. Until she gets back to verify, I’d follow the recipe instructions, rather than the blog, so yes on sour cream. Enjoy – PJH

    Thanks PJ for jumping in. Yes, use the sour cream, I totally forgot to add it to the blog steps. Sorry for any confusion. ~ MaryJane

  7. nelll

    Am I missing something in this sentence? (I admit it’s late over here…):
    Americans tend to like strong, having a little sweetness to enhance and offset the bitterness makes for a rich and complex eating experience.

    Strong what?

    Nel, MJ is away, but my guess is she was using strong as a noun, not an adjective. I’ve added some punctuation to try to make it more clear. Thanks for your feedback as always – PJH

    Sorry for any confusion, I’ve changed the wording a little, hope that helps. ~ MaryJane

  8. AnnieM79

    Last time I was shopping at KA store in Norwich, I bought a bag of “Lemon Bits” (they look a little like “Dippin’ Dots” lol) and was wondering if and where I could use them in this recipe?? In the batter, maybe? Or the topping?
    Thanks…I am SO making this for Easter morning!!

    Annie, I’d use them in the batter – as many as you like, but probably no more than a cup, OK? Enjoy! PJH

  9. chari

    The 9×13 pan instructions make a lot of sense. But if you are using a tube pan, do you put the streusel on the bottom and pour the batter over it? I think that would make it a bit soggy. The photo of the cake makes it look like the streusel was indeed on the bottom. How did that work out?
    The batter is poured into the pan and the streusel is evenly sprinkled on top for baking. After baking, the cake is unmolded from the pan and then flipped back over so that the streusel remains on top. ~Amy

  10. reesdon

    I was wondering how this would work in a bundt pan – would one put the streusel at the bottom of the pan (top of the cake) or leave it at the top the pan (bottom of the finished cake)? It sounds wonderful!
    For a bundt pan, I would put the streusel in the bottom of the pan prior to pouring in the batter, so that it end up on the top of the finished cake. ~Amy

  11. Audrey

    This was delicious, but I baked mine in a tube pan and tuirning it over and then over again was easier said than done. Streusel ALL over the place. I’d definitely suggest baking it in — and serving it from — a 9×13 pan.

  12. glpruett

    Despite all of the comments about having more luck in baking this coffee cake in a 9 X 13 pan, I’d like to bake it in my Stoneware Ring Pan. Do you think that would work? I’m sure I’d need to spray it well before adding the streusel. I’ve only used the pan, purchased from KAF, for yeast breads, but do you think I could get good results with this recipe and pan?
    I think that would be beautiful. Be careful not to fill the ring pan to the top so you may have some excess batter. Happy baking!

  13. gpyrocat

    I made this a couple of weekends ago for a breakfast meeting. I used the recommended ingredients. I used a plate for the first inversion and a large round platter for the second and had no trouble with the streusel. (Speed is key here, I think) It was excellent! Moist, tender and nicely lemony. Everyone came back for seconds and a couple for thirds. This is a keeper!

    It’s REALLY good, isn’t it? Lemon is an under-utilized flavor, in my book. Thanks for your tips about getting it out of the pan – PJH

  14. Shannon McCarthy

    Wow – this looks incredible. My husband is a huge fan of coffeecake and this Lemon Streusel variety looks delish! Will give it a whirl; thanks for sharing.
    – Shannon, Crumb Cake Creations, LLC

  15. sonally

    Harumph. I made this following the blog recipe, not the site recipe. Therefore, mine is in the oven sans Sour Cream! I wish the author would amend her blog. I thought the batter was a bit thick! It smells good, we will see I imagine the texture will be off.
    I am so sorry that we’ve never caught this error! I have added the amount of sour cream to the blog, and made sure that the text still included “add sour cream”. Thanks for taking the time to let us know, we and our fellow bakers truly appreciate it. ~ MaryJane

  16. CPD

    Wish I had found a recipe for the candie lemons first, but used dehydrated pineapple and it worked fine…………Husband and I loved it.


Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *