Gluten Free Coffee Crumb Cake

This gluten free coffee cake is incredibly delicious – soft, buttery and with a melt-in-the-mouth texture, with a cinnamon-sugar ribbon running through its middle and a generous layer of crisp cinnamon crumble on top. It’s also super easy to make and you couldn’t possibly guess that it’s gluten free!

A piece of gluten free coffee crumb cake on a white dessert plate.

Before we start talking about this truly amazing recipe (and it really is amazing): let’s clear up what a “coffee cake” actually is.

Somewhat confusingly, the name “coffee cake” in the way it’s used here doesn’t mean a cake that contains coffee as a flavouring. Instead, it’s a cake that is meant to be eaten with coffee. (Though feel free to enjoy it any way you like, even without coffee!) To make things even more confusing, I’ve seen the terms “coffee cake” and “crumb cake” used interchangeably…

Anyhow, confusing names and terminology aside, this cake is incredibly delicious and you should make it ASAP.

The sponge itself is soft, delicate and wonderfully buttery, gently flavoured with vanilla and light brown soft sugar. Running through it is a delicious cinnamon-sugar ribbon, and it’s topped with a generous layer of pleasantly crisp cinnamon crumble (or streusel, if you prefer).

Note that this isn’t a light and fluffy cake – instead, it’s pleasantly dense and soft, with a melt-in-the-mouth texture, and it stays nice and moist for days.

Gluten free coffee crumb cake on a piece of white parchment paper, cut into squares.

This gluten free coffee cake is the perfect mid-week treat: easy and incredibly fun to make, requiring no special or unusual ingredients, and packed with flavour. Despite the addition of the cinnamon-sugar ribbon and the sweet streusel on top, it’s actually not too sweet – rather, it’s perfectly balanced and really an excellent example of cosy comfort food.

Additionally, this recipe is also gluten-free, not that you could possibly guess it!

Overhead view of the gluten free coffee crumb cake, cut into squares.

Before we get to the bits and bobs of making this wonderful cake – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!

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Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.

How do you make gluten free coffee cake from scratch?

Making this gluten free coffee cake is incredibly easy. First, we start with the cinnamon streusel (a.k.a. cinnamon crumble topping):

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the gluten free flour blend, light brown soft sugar and cinnamon.
  2. Add cubed cold butter and rub it into the dry ingredients until you get a crumbly mixture that sticks together and clumps up when you press it together.
  3. You want a mixture of small “crumbs” and larger pea- and hazelnut-sized pieces.
  4. Chill the crumble/streusel in the fridge for at least 20 minutes or until needed.

Next up, make the simple gluten free cake batter (we’ll be using the so-called “reverse creaming method”):

  1. In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer if using it), sift together the gluten free flour blend, almond flour, light brown soft sugar, caster/superfine sugar (or granulated sugar if you can’t find caster sugar), baking powder, xanthan gum and salt.
  2. Add the softened butter and, using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer fitted with the double beaters, work it into the dry ingredients until you get a mixture resembling breadcrumbs or wet sand.
  3. Mix together the (room temperature!!) eggs, yoghurt and vanilla bean paste, and add them to the flour-butter mixture in two batches, mixing well after each addition.
  4. The finished batter should be smooth (with no flour clumps) and on the thicker side.

This order of adding the ingredients (that is, working the butter into the dry ingredients plus sugar before adding the wet) is known as the “reverse creaming method” pioneered by Rose Levy Beranbaum. It gives the cakes a very even aeration, a delicate melt-in-the-mouth crumb and a uniform rise (with minimal doming).

Note also that we’re using yoghurt rather than milk as the main source of moisture (in addition to the eggs) in this recipe. That’s because yoghurt adds moisture while keeping the cake batter fairly thick, which ensures that the crumble/streusel topping doesn’t sink into the cake during baking.

Mixing a bowl of cake batter.

Finally, put it all together:

  1. Transfer half of the cake batter into a lined 8 inch (20cm) square baking tin and smooth it out into an even layer.
  2. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture on top.
  3. Dollop the remaining cake batter on top of the cinnamon-sugar filling. Dolloping the cake batter evenly across the cinnamon-sugar (instead of placing it all in one spot) allows you to spread it out into an even layer without disturbing the underlying cinnamon-sugar filling too much.
  4. Gently spread out the batter into an even layer and smooth out the top.
  5. Evenly sprinkle with the chilled crumble/streusel,
  6. and bake!

6-step process of assembling the gluten free coffee crumb cake.

The cake will come out of the oven with a beautiful golden brown crumble – if it starts browning too quickly, you can always cover it with a sheet of aluminium foil (shiny side up) and continue baking until done.

Thanks to the reverse creaming method, there should be no doming on the baked cake – or, if there is a very small dome in the middle, it should level out while cooling (as some of the trapped gases and moisture escape/evaporate from the still hot cake).

Gluten free coffee crumb cake on a piece of white parchment paper, cut into squares.

Why does your crumb topping melt?

If you followed the recipe to the letter, your crumb topping shouldn’t melt in the oven. It will spread a tiny little bit and clump together, but it definitely shouldn’t melt.

A crumb topping can melt as a result of too much butter. So, make sure that you don’t use too much of it – and definitely don’t add more butter than the recipe tells you to.

And that’s all there is to it, friends. Despite requiring three different components, this gluten free coffee crumb cake comes together in no time… and it tends to disappear just as quickly, because it’s almost dangerously delicious.

I hope you’ll love it!

Happy baking,

Signature of the author, Kat.

A piece of gluten free coffee crumb cake on a white dessert plate, with a forkful taken out of it.

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A piece of gluten free coffee crumb cake on a white dessert plate.
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Gluten Free Coffee Crumb Cake

This gluten free coffee cake is incredibly delicious – soft, buttery and with a melt-in-the-mouth texture, with a cinnamon-sugar ribbon running through its middle and a generous layer of crisp cinnamon crumble to top. It’s also super easy to make and you couldn't possibly guess that it's gluten free!

Course Dessert
Cuisine Gluten Free
Prep Time 45 minutes
Bake/Cook Time 45 minutes
Chill Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 9

Ingredients

For cinnamon crumble/streusel topping:

  • 90 g (¾ cup) plain gluten free flour blend (I used Doves Farm Freee plain gluten free flour, which doesn't contain xanthan gum. You can also mix your own blend from 50% white rice flour, 30% potato starch and 20% maize flour by weight.)
  • 65 g (¼ cup + 1 tbsp) light brown soft sugar
  • ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 50 g (3 ½ tbsp) cold unsalted butter, cubed

For cake batter:

  • 200 g (1 ⅔ cups) plain gluten free flour blend (I used Doves Farm Freee plain gluten free flour, which doesn't contain xanthan gum. You can also mix your own blend from 50% white rice flour, 30% potato starch and 20% maize flour by weight.)
  • 75 g (¾ cup) almond flour (You can substitute it with an equal weight of the GF flour blend if you're allergic to nuts, but note that the cake will dry out a bit faster.)
  • 100 g (½ cup) light brown soft sugar
  • 50 g (¼ cup) caster/superfine or granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum (Omit if your GF flour blend already contains xanthan gum.)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 170 g (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 UK medium/US large eggs, room temperature
  • 100 g (⅓ cup + 1 ½ tbsp) full-fat plain natural or Greek-style yoghurt, room temperature
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)

For cinnamon-sugar filling:

  • 60 g (¼ cup + 1 tbsp) caster/superfine or granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions

For cinnamon crumble/streusel topping:

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the gluten free flour blend, light brown soft sugar and cinnamon.

  2. Add cold cubed butter and rub it into the dry ingredients until you get a crumbly mixture that sticks together and clumps up when you press it together. You want a mixture of small “crumbs” and larger pea- and hazelnut-sized pieces.

  3. Chill the crumble/streusel in the fridge for at least 20-30 minutes or until needed.

For cake batter:

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, pre-heat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and line an 8 inch (20cm) square baking tin with baking/greaseproof paper.

  2. In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer if using it), sift together the gluten free flour blend, almond flour, light brown soft sugar, caster/superfine (or granulated) sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt.

  3. Add the softened butter and, using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer fitted with the double beaters, work it into the dry ingredients until you get a mixture resembling breadcrumbs or wet sand.

    Tip: This order of adding the ingredients (that is, working the butter into the dry ingredients plus sugar before adding the wet) is known as the “reverse creaming method”. It gives the cakes a very even aeration, a delicate melt-in-the-mouth texture and a uniform rise (with minimal doming).

  4. Mix together the eggs, yoghurt and vanilla bean paste, and add them to the flour-butter mixture in two batches, mixing well after each addition, until you get a smooth cake batter with no flour clumps. The batter should be on the thicker side.

    Tip: Using yoghurt instead of milk as the main source of moisture (in addition to the eggs) keeps the cake batter fairly thick, which ensures that the crumble/streusel topping doesn’t sink into the cake during baking.

Assembling the gluten free coffee cake:

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the caster/superfine (or granulated) sugar and ground cinnamon to make the cinnamon-sugar filling.

  2. Transfer half of the cake batter into the lined baking tin and smooth it out into an even layer.

  3. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar filling on top in an even layer.

  4. Dollop the remaining cake batter on top of the cinnamon-sugar filling, then spread it out gently into an even layer and smooth out the top.

    Tip: Dolloping the cake batter evenly across the cinnamon-sugar (instead of placing it all in one spot) allows you to spread it out into an even layer without disturbing up the underlying cinnamon-sugar filling too much.

  5. Evenly sprinkle with the chilled crumble/streusel. If there are a few too large pieces in the crumble/streusel, you can break them up.

  6. Bake at 350ºF (180ºC) for about 45 minutes or until the crumble/streusel is golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. If the crumble/streusel topping starts browning too quickly, cover with aluminium foil (shiny side up) and continue baking until done.

  7. Allow to cool in the baking tin for about 20 minutes, then carefully remove from the tin onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely before slicing and serving.

Storage:

  1. The gluten free coffee crumb cake keeps well in a closed container in a cool dry place for 3-4 days.

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