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Lemon Coffee Cake

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a close up shot of a piece of Lemon Coffee Cake on a spatula
The bright lemon flavor of this lemon coffee cake will awaken your senses at breakfast or brunch.
Jump to Recipe
Table of Contents
  1. Lemon Coffee Cake Ingredients
  2. Substitutions And Additions
  3. How To Make This Lemon Coffee Cake Recipe
  4. How To Serve Lemon Pie Coffee Cake
  5. Storing This Lemon Crumble Cake
  6. Why We Love This Recipe
  7. More Recipes You’ll Love
  8. JUMP TO RECIPE
  9. Even More Recipes You’ll Love

This lemon coffee cake is the perfect accompaniment to your morning coffee or Sunday bunch. It’s just the right mix of sweet and tangy with a lemony filling, velvety cream cheese layer, and crumble topping that you won’t be able to help but crave all the time.

a close up shot of a piece of Lemon Coffee Cake

Lemon Coffee Cake Ingredients

Lemon Coffee Cake raw ingredients that are labeled
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The soft, sponge-like texture of the cake is complemented perfectly by the zesty and refreshing taste of lemon.

With each bite, you’ll experience a burst of citrus flavor that will leave your mouth watering for more.

You’ll need:

For The Cake: 

  • ½ cup of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 (8-ounce) block of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup of packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups of all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon of baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ cup of buttermilk

For The Lemon Filling:

  • 1 (15-ounce) can of lemon pie filling or a thick lemon curd

PRO TIP:

Lemon pie filling has a great consistency for holding itself in a nice central layer. Lemon curd will also work, especially if it is a thicker lemon curd. Our recipe for homemade lemon curd is creamier, and, though it tastes great, it soaks into the coffee cake more than a premade lemon pie filling.

For The Cream Cheese Filling: 

  • 1 (8-ounce) block of cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • Zest of 1 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

For The Crumble Topping:

  • 1½ cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup of granulated sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons of cinnamon
  • ¾ cup of unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For The Glaze:

  • 1 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons of milk

Substitutions And Additions

TOPPING: For this great recipe, you can stick with the crumble topping and glaze, but if you want to fancy it up even more, you can add fresh fruit on top of the cake.

Blueberries would be a delicious addition paired with the tangy lemon flavor.

LEMON ZEST: While lemon zest adds a delightful citrusy punch to this coffee cake, you can experiment with different citrus zests for unique flavor twists.

Orange zest can bring a sweet and bright note, while lime zest can introduce a zesty, tangy kick.

GLAZE: Swap out the lemon juice for orange or lime juice to create a citrus-infused glaze.

You can also experiment with flavored extracts like almond or coconut to give your coffee cake a unique and enticing finish.

How To Make This Lemon Coffee Cake Recipe

The first step in making this delectable treat is to whip up the cake batter. Once that is ready, you will layer the cake with lemon curd and a cream cheese filling before topping it with a crumbly streusel and baking it.

STEP ONE: Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

STEP TWO: Grease a glass 10×15-inch baking dish or a DEEP 9×13-inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Set aside. 

OUR RECIPE DEVELOPER SAYS

Using either a 15×10-inch baking dish or a DEEP DISH 9×13-inch will prevent the coffee cake from spilling over the edges.

For The Cake 

STEP THREE: In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat together butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy, about two to three minutes. 

butter and cream cheese blended together

STEP FOUR: Add the brown sugar and white sugar. Beat until fluffy, about two to three minutes. 

brown sugar and white sugar added to the butter mixture

STEP FIVE: Beat in both eggs until combined.

egg combined with the white sugar mixture

STEP SIX: Beat in the vanilla extract until combined. 

vanilla extract blended until combined

STEP SEVEN: In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch, and salt. 

flour, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch and salt stirred together

STEP EIGHT: Slowly beat in a third of the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, then add half of the buttermilk.

Beat in another third of the dry mixture and the rest of the buttermilk. Beat the remaining flour mixture into the wet mixture.

Beat just until combined, and do not over-mix. 

dry mixture added to the wet mixtures and combined together

STEP NINE: Pour half the batter into the prepared baking dish. The cake batter will be thick. 

batter poured into a a baking dish

For The Lemon Filling

STEP TEN: Spread the lemon filling carefully over the batter in the baking dish. Leave about ¾-inch space between the lemon filling and the edge of the pan.

Lemon filling that spreads to the outside of the pan will burn while baking.

Carefully top with the remaining batter, working from the outer perimeter in to make sure that the lemon filling stays contained within the batter layers.

PRO TIP:

Keeping the lemon filling to the center and away from the edges of the pan is really important. The coffee cake cooks for so long that if the lemon filling seeps out and is along the edge, it really burns and turns the whole crust to a charred mess.  

lemon filling spread over the top of batter

For The Cream Cheese Filling

STEP ELEVEN: In a medium bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese filling ingredients: cream cheese, sugar, egg, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

Spread the cream cheese layer over the top layer of the batter.

cream cheese sugar, egg, lemon juice, and lemon zest spread over the cake

For The Crumble Topping

STEP TWELVE: Whisk together flour, brown sugar, white sugar, and cinnamon until well combined.

Stir in the melted butter with a fork until it is a crumbly mixture, and there is no more visible white flour. Sprinkle over the top of the cake. 

flour, brown sugar, sugar, and cinnamon whisked together then stir melted butter

STEP THIRTEEN: Bake the cake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the center is set and no longer jiggles.

Cover the coffee cake with aluminum foil after the first 20 to 30 minutes of baking to prevent the top from burning while the layers underneath cook through.

Make sure to cool the cake completely before adding the glaze. 

PRO TIP:

Oven temperatures vary and may need to be recalibrated periodically to ensure they are accurate. Make sure to check your coffee cake at the lower end of the recommended baking time.

bake cake for 60 to 75 minutes

For The Glaze

STEP FOURTEEN: In a small bowl, stir together the powdered sugar and milk. Drizzle over top of the completely cooled cake. 

powdered sugar and milk stirred and drizzled over cake

How To Serve Lemon Pie Coffee Cake

This divine lemon crumb coffee cake is just the right thing to serve alongside a cup of coffee or pumpkin spice latte in the morning or with a warm mug of afternoon tea.

Don’t let the name stop you from serving it for dessert with a drizzle of caramel sauce or an indulgent spoonful of whipped cream.

Our original coffee cake and blueberry coffee cake offer easy recipes for other varieties of this delightful bakery treat.

Storing This Lemon Crumble Cake

We’ve got you covered with tips on storing this scrumptious treat.

MAKE AHEAD: If you’re planning ahead, you can prepare the lemon coffee cake up to a day in advance.

Simply bake it as directed in the recipe and allow it to cool completely. Once cooled, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to preserve its freshness.

You can leave it at room temperature for up to 24 hours.

When you’re ready to serve, consider giving it a quick warm-up in the oven to restore its warm, freshly baked taste.

IN THE FRIDGE: Store leftovers of this lemon cake in the fridge in a sealed food storage container for four to six days. 

IN THE FREEZER: To freeze this delicious cake, wrap it tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and place it into a heavy-duty freezer bag or airtight container.

It will keep for two to three months.

Why We Love This Recipe

ZESTY CITRUS: The vibrant lemon flavor adds a refreshing and zesty twist to traditional coffee cake, making it a delightful treat for those who love a hint of citrus.

EASY TO MAKE: This recipe is beginner-friendly and comes together easily, so you can enjoy the delightful flavors of homemade coffee cake without the fuss.

MOIST TEXTURE: This coffee cake boasts a moist and tender crumb, thanks to the addition of sour cream, ensuring every bite is soft and delectable.

overhead shot of Lemon Coffee Cake in a baking dish

Layers of moist cake, cream cheese, and lemon pie filling make this citrusy treat a winner for breakfast or brunch. Add a cup of coffee or tea with your lemon coffee cake, and you will have a sweet treat to enjoy as you start your day.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How do I store coffee cake?

You can store this lemon crumble breakfast cake in the fridge for four to six days or, for longer storage, in the freezer, well wrapped in plastic wrap for two to three months.

What should I serve with coffee cake?

Serve this lemon cream cheese coffee cake for breakfast or brunch alongside a warm drink and other sweet pastry treats.

Does coffee cake contain coffee?

Generally, coffee cakes, especially those made in North America, rarely contain coffee. There are some recipes from Europe that may contain coffee. Coffee cake has been given this name because it is often served with coffee (or tea) on the side.

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a close up shot of a piece of Lemon Coffee Cake on a spatula

Lemon Coffee Cake

5 from 1 vote
The bright lemon flavor of this lemon coffee cake will awaken your senses at breakfast or brunch.
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings 12

Ingredients
  

Cake

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup buttermilk

Lemon Filling

  • 15 ounces lemon pie filling, or a thick lemon curd

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 lemon zest, about 1 tablespoon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Crumble Topping

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • tablespoons cinnamon
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • tablespoons milk

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Grease a glass 10x 15-inch baking dish or a DEEP 9×13-inch baking dish. Set aside.

Cake

  • In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese until creamy (about 2 to 3 minutes).
  • Add the brown sugar and white sugar. Beat until fluffy (about 2 to 3 minutes).
  • Beat in both eggs until combined.
  • Beat in the vanilla extract until combined.
  • In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch, and salt.
  • Slowly beat a third of the dry mixture into the wet, then add in half the buttermilk. Beat in another third of the dry mixture and the rest of the buttermilk. Beat the remaining dry mix into the wet. Beat just until combined, but do not over-mix.
  • Pour half the batter into the prepared baking dish. The batter will be thick.

Lemon Filling

  • Spread the lemon filling carefully over the batter in the baking dish. Leave about ¾-inch space between the lemon filling and the edge of the pan. Lemon filling that spreads to the outside of the pan will burn while baking. Carefully top with the remaining batter, working from the outer perimeter in to make sure that the lemon filling stays contained within the batter layers.

Cream Cheese Filling

  • In a medium mixing bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together the cream cheese filling ingredients: cream cheese, sugar, egg, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Spread the cream cheese layer over the top layer of batter.

Crumble Topping

  • Whisk together flour, brown sugar, sugar, and cinnamon until well combined. Stir in melted butter with a fork until it is a crumbly mixture and there is no more visible white flour. Sprinkle over the top of the cake.
  • Bake cake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the center is set and no longer jiggles. Cover the coffee cake with aluminum foil after the first 20 to 30 minutes of baking to prevent the top from burning while the layers underneath cook through. Let the cake cool before adding glaze.

Glaze

  • Stir together powdered sugar and milk. Drizzle over top of completely cooled cake.

Notes

  • Lemon pie filling has a great consistency for holding itself in a nice central layer. Lemon curd will also work, especially if it is a thicker lemon curd. Our recipe for homemade lemon curd is more creamy and, though it tastes great, it soaks into the coffee cake more than a premade lemon pie filling.
  • Using either a 15×10-inch baking dish or a DEEP DISH 9×13-inch will prevent the coffee cake from spilling over the edges.
  • Keeping the lemon filling to the center and away from the edges of the pan is really important. The coffee cake cooks for so long that if the lemon filling seeps out and is along the edge, it really burns and turns the whole crust to a charred mess.  
  • This is a nice thick, moist cake. It takes quite a while to cook all the layers through completely. Be sure to cover the top with aluminum foil to prevent the crumb topping from burning. You can also place the baking dish on a sheet pan in the oven to catch any spills and reduce browning on the bottom of the coffee cake.

Nutrition

Calories: 742kcal | Carbohydrates: 117g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 126mg | Sodium: 335mg | Potassium: 235mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 82g | Vitamin A: 936IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 122mg | Iron: 3mg
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Proudly Prepared by the Spaceships Kitchen

This recipe was developed, tested, cooked and photographed by the Spaceships Kitchen. From our dinner table to yours, we hope you think it's out of this world!

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