Sunday Brunch: Aunt Patty's Coffee Cake Recipe

Robin Bellinger

This simple coffee cake is from Lucinda Scala Quinn's wonderful new book Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys. I've been immersed in this book for about a week; my mother sent it to me because my husband is always complaining that I don't make enough food. He thinks you're wasting your time if you cook less than a pound of pasta at once, whereas I, as a single girl, was known to go through a box 2-ounce serving by 2-ounce serving.

Although I dearly love a cinnamon-scented, streusel-topped butter bomb, this cake's subtlety is not without appeal. It's very tender and buttery but doesn't send you straight back to bed for a nap. It could be part of a bread and muffin basket at any brunch, or you could serve a slice with a cup of maple-syrup-drizzled yogurt for a very simple meal—one that leaves room for a big spaghetti dinner.


  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. (I used a 16-cup pan, which is all that I have. It worked out fine but was ready 10 minutes early.)

  2. In a small bowl, mix together the 2 tablespoons sugar, instant coffee, and cocoa.

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add one egg at a time, beating until just combined after each addition. Beat in one third of the flour mixture, then half the sour cream, then another third of the flour mixture. Beat in the rest of the sour cream and then the last third of the flour. Add the vanilla and mix for another minute or two, scraping the sides of the bowl down with a spatula as necessary.

  4. Pour one third of the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle half the cocoa-coffee filling on top. Pour in another third of the batter and sprinkle the rest of the filling over that. End with the last third of the batter. Run a dinner knife down through the batter and swirl gently to marble the batter in about six places.

  5. Bake for 50 minutes (35-40 if you are using a larger pan, as I did) or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then turn out onto a plate or onto foil.