Just-like-Starbucks Crumbly Coffee Cake

Starbucks copycat recipe: Coffee Cake

Starbucks copycat recipe: Coffee Cake

A few years ago, being told a pastry tastes like it came from Starbucks wouldn’t be all that impressive. It’d be like saying, “You know, that cinnamon bun tastes just like it fell outta the vending machine!”

Not much of a compliment.

Thankfully, back in 2009, Starbucks revamped its menu and completely redeemed itself. One of the chain’s standout items is its moist coffee cake, complete with a thick layer of cinnamon and brown sugar streusel. I could down handfuls of that crumbly topping alone. That’s why I’m so grateful for this guy:


This is Mike Wasserman. He’s a natural-born cook. The kind who seems to pull together a meal — even complicated concoctions he’s never made before — easily and effortlessly. He gets these skills from his mother, who happens to be a manager at (can you guess?) Starbucks. After some testing, she’s found the recipe that perfectly recreates the chain’s crumbly confection.

Cook’s Illustrated’s New York-Style Crumb Cake is the winner. My life will never be the same. I just have to get past the making-and-scarfing-the-streusel part.


Just-like-Starbucks Crumbly Coffee Cake

(Slightly adapted from Cooks Illustrated; visit their site for substitution info, tips and tricks)

Kitchen gadgets needed: medium bowl (for topping), large mixing bowl, spoonula, electric mixer, whisk, 9″x13″ baking pan, parchment paper



Crumb Topping:

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks butter, melted
  • 3 1/2 cups cake flour (CI says this part is critical; subbing all-purpose flour makes for dry cake)


  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, sliced into 12 pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • Confectioners sugar (optional; for dusting)

Time commitment: 1 1/2 hours

Steps (makes 8-10 pieces):

1. First, the topping: Whisk cinnamon, sugars, salt and butter. Stir in the flour until a thick dough forms. Set aside for 10-15 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spritz the bottom and sides of the baking pan with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper for easy cake removal, if you have it.

3. Now, the cake: In the large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Beat in the butter, one piece at a time, until moist crumbles form. Add the egg, vanilla extract, buttermilk and egg yolk, beating for another minute or two. (See batter above.) Add the batter to the baking pan.

4. Back to the topping: Break the topping into small, corn-kernel-sized crumbs and sprinkle them on top of the batter. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let it cool for 20-25 minutes before serving. Dust with confectioners sugar if you desire. (And boy, should you desire it!)


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2 Comment

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