Recipe: Sour Cream Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake and a Saskiko-Inspired Hand-Mending Project Update

There is a cake recipe at the end of this post as your reward for continuing to indulge me in my steadfast effort to convert my modest wardrobe into a curated collection of slow craft, folk art heirlooms. I’m only half kidding when I say “curated” and “folk art heirlooms” and I’m not kidding at all about the cake recipe… scroll down to the bottom if you need hard proof.

A slice of coffee cake on a light green plate atop a coffee table cluttered with fabric, a sewing project in progress, a mug of coffee, and a typewriter mostly out of view

Years from now I’m sure I will look down at these finished knee patches and remember fondly all of the delicious loaf cakes I baked and ate while stitching my way through the cold, dark winter of 2020.

Close up of brown cloth patches pinned to faded black pants in the process of being sewn and reinforced with linen thread

A meditative stitch (or 100 stitches) here and there, day and night, always quietly accompanied by a hot mug of coffee, tea, or cocoa…

Out of focus in the background Bette is sitting on the couch illuminated by holiday lights, sewing patches on to pants which are resting on the coffee table in the foreground next to a mug, and a stack of books topped with an unlit candle. Bette’s over-sized black sweatshirt says, “witchcrafts” and shows 3 spooky witches doing various handcrafts.

Now, about that Sour Cream Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake Recipe.

As a “mature for my age” child and an inevitable coffee lover, to me, coffee cake was the pinnacle of grown-up baked goods. I could argue the Seinfeld episode titled “The Suicide”–during which the main characters discuss at length the merits of Drake’s Coffee Cakes–had a strong impact on my young, impressionable mind.

The success of this cake depends on only two things, really: 1. starting with room temperature ingredients and 2. incorporating them together as thoroughly and slowly as time and reason will allow. It’s best not to just slap this one together; take your time and your prize will be an easy, delicious cake.

Sour Cream Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake Recipe

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature

Cinnamon swirl:

  • 2/3 c brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350ºF

Butter and flour a 9″ rectangular loaf pan and set aside.

To prepare the cinnamon swirl: in a small bowl combine 2/3 cup brown sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and set aside.

In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and salt, and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl using a hand mixer, beat room temperature butter on medium speed for approximately 2 minutes until creamed. Scrape the sides down into the bowl and add sugars. Cream together again on medium speed for an additional minute.

Scrape sides down into the bowl again, then add vanilla and molasses and incorporate on medium speed for 2-3 more minutes.

Scrape sides down into bowl again and add eggs, one at a time on the lowest speed, stopping to scrape the sides down into the bowl between each egg. Batter should be fully combined and smooth in consistency at this point.

Pour approximately half of the batter into your prepared loaf pan and even out the top using a spatula. Using a spoon, sprinkle approximately 75% of your cinnamon swirl mixture evenly across the top of this first layer of cake batter.

Proceed to pour the rest of the batter overtop the cinnamon sprinkle layer and even the surface with a spatula again. Finish the top with the remaining 25% cinnamon mixture evenly sprinkled with a spoon.

To swirl the center cinnamon layer, insert a butter knife down from above into the batter until the tip of the knife reaches the pan. Slowly drag the knife through the batter in an easy S-shape swirling motion from one end to the other. Repeat a second time.

Bake in a preheated 350ºF oven for 60-75 minutes until a butter knife, cake tester or wooden skewer inserted carefully down into the center of the cake from above pulls out clean (crumb is fully formed/no wet batter clinging to it) and the top is puffed and browned. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before carefully lifting or turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. Good for 3 days at room temperature.

Enjoy! Bette