As I’ve said before, the interesting thing about being an American in London is that you really find funny nuances to the language that you never would expect – and usually in the simplest things.  Whether it’s something as simple as “minding” the gap when getting off the train or saying that it’s “half-eleven” when you mean that it’s nearly time for lunch. 

Another thing is coffee cake.  We know it as a great late-morning treat that usually involves cinnamon and occasionally pecans but never frosting.  The English know coffee cake as coffee-flavored cake – it’s nice, but not the same.  So, I’m doing what I can to improve trans-Atlantic relations by introducing my British friends and co-workers to this essential part of life – I think their elevenses will be the better for it. 

This recipe has been ever-so-slightly adapted from Baked.

Cinnamon and Cocoa Coffee Cake

Streusel topping

  • 3/4 rounded cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp chilled butter, cut into cubes

Cinnamon and cocoa swirl

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon


  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 oz unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 16 oz creme fraiche
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

So, start by preheating your oven to 350 F and lining your baking dish with parchment paper, then get on with making the streusel topping.  For the first time, I used my standing mixer to do this and it worked brilliantly!  Just put all the ingredients in the bowl and use the paddle attachment to beat it until it’s pea-sized crumbs – it’ll only take about a minute or so.  Simples!  Set aside. 

Next up, mix the sugar, cinnamon and cocoa in a small bowl until it’s thoroughly combined.

Lastly, the cake is easy.  Cream the butter with the sugar until it’s light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the side of the bowl as you go.  Add the vanilla and sour cream and stir well to incorporate.  Remove the bowl from the standing mixer and gently mix in the flour until just combined. 

Assemble the cake by spreading 1/3 of the batter on the bottom of the prepared pan, then sprinkling over 1/2 of the sugar/cinnamon/cocoa mixture.  Top with another third of the batter and sprinkle the remaining sugar mixture before topping with the last of the batter and topping with the streusel crumb mixture.  Pop it in the oven and bake for an hour or until a tester comes out clean.