Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

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Cream cheese coffee cake is tender and moist with a rich cream cheese filling and lemon and almond topping. It is just the right accompaniment to a cup of tea or coffee. Some coffee cakes are overly sweet with lots of bells and whistles, which is sort of not the point. I think the perfect coffee cake is one that’s nicely balanced, and not too sweet.

cream cheese coffee cake.

Something that hits the spot when you’re feeling a little peckish. I love the simplicity of the flavors of this recipe, with a cream cheese layer reminiscent of those old fashioned tunnel cakes from the 70s and 80s. It’s a great breakfast cake, but equally at home on an Afternoon Tea tray or just a simple dessert, no need to save it for a special occasion.

Cream cheese coffee cake on plate.

This cream cream coffee cake differs from a classic coffee cake. A cinnamon streusel topping, is replaced by lemony slivered almonds.

closeup of coffee cake.

Ingredients for this cream cheese coffee cake recipe

This moist and buttery cake has a hint of lemon, but don’t expect citrus jolt, the small amount of lemon juice gives this cake balance. 

ingredients for coffee cake.


  • unbleached all-purpose 
  • flour baking powder
  • teaspoons baking soda
  • fine salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • white sugar 
  • 2 lemons
  • 4 large eggs
  • vanilla extract
  • sour cream (full fat)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese

Almond topping:

lemon zest sugar and almond topping.
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
top shot cream cheese coffee cake.

How do you make cream cheese coffee cake

This recipe is adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, 2010. A tube pan is best for this recipe, as the center of the tube helps cook the denser batter. Read through the directions before beginning.

vertical cream cheese coffee cake.

While it’s not a difficult recipe, but the lemon zest is used in both the topping and batter, the vanilla is divided between the filling and the cake. I’ve made notes below.

  • Make the topping first. Zest the lemons and divide the zest. 1 1/2 teaspoons for the topping and 1 Tablespoon for the cake batter. 
  • In a small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest and 1/2 cup sliced almonds. Set aside.
almond sugar and zest.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 10 inch tube pan. 

dry ingredients.
  • Whisk the dry ingredients together; flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. 
whisking dry ingredients.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter, 1 cup and 2 Tablespoons sugar, and lemon zest at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula. 
  • Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. 
Creaming butter and sugar.

  • Add 4 of the 5 teaspoons vanilla, mixing just until combined.
adding vanilla.

  • Reduce speed to low, and add 1/3 flour mixture and 1/2 sour cream. Mixing until combined.Scrape down sides of bowl. Repeat with 1/3 flour mixture and 1/2 sour cream, mixing until blended. Add last 1/3 of flour mixture, scraping sides of the bowl and making sure all the flour is combined.
mixing cake batter.

  • Remove 1/4 cup batter. Reserve for later.
one cup of batter.
  • Pour 1/2 cup batter into the prepared cake pan.
batter in pan.
  • Without rinsing out bowl, beat cream cheese, remaining 5 Tablespoons sugar, lemon juice, and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla on medium speed until smooth and blended.

cream cheese filling.
  • Next, add the reserved 1/4 cup batter to the cream cheese mixture and blend until incorporated. 
first layer of batter.
  • Spoon the cream cheese filling on top of the cake, keeping it towards the center of the batter and avoiding the edges or it can leak out.

cream cheese ring.
  • Smooth cream cheese mixture.
smooth top of batter.
  • Top with the remaining batter.
batter in tube pan.
  • Use an offset spatula and swirl the top of the cake and cream cheese mixture. 
spreading in batter.

  • Tap the whole pan on the counter a few times to eliminate any bubbles in the bater.
  • Sprinkle with lemon and almond topping, pressing into the top of the cake gently. 
almonds on top of cake.
  • Bake in center of the oven at 350 degrees F. until top is golden brown and firm to the touch and skewer inserted into the edge (not the center where the filling is) comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. 
  • Cool cake in pan for about 1 hour, then invert pan, remove cake and continue cooling on a wire rack top side up.
cooling cream cheese coffee cake.

Once cake is cool, store well wrapped in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. This coffee cake actually tastes better the next day! 

​If you like simple cakes that go well with a cup of coffee or tea, try these.

cream cheese coffee cake.

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Cream cheese coffee cake is tender and moist with a rich cream cheese filling and lemon and almond topping.
5 from 46 votes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Course Afternoon Tea,, Breakfast
Cuisine American
Servings 16 servings
Calories 334 kcal


Lemon Sugar-Almond Topping



Lemon Almond Topping

  • Mix lemon zest, sugar until moistened. Stir in sliced almonds. Set aside.


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust rack in oven to middle.
  • Grease or spray the inside of a 10" tube pan. Whisk dry ingredients together; flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar, and lemon zest together until light and fluffy, scrapping down sides of bowl as necessary, about 3 minutes.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, about 20 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add 4 teaspoons vanilla, mixing to combine.
  • Reduce speed of mixer to low, add 1/3 flour mixture and 1/2 sour cream, mixing to blend, just until combined about 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat with 1/3 flour mixture and remaining sour cream, mixing just until combined. Add remaining 1/3 flour and mix for 10 seconds. Use a rubber spatula and make sure all of the flour is combined.
  • Reserve 1/4 cup batter and pour 1/2 cup batter into the tube pan. Reserve remaining 1/2 cup, in addition to the 1/4 cup batter.
  • No need to rinse out mixing bowl. Beat cream cheese, 5 Tablespoons sugar, lemon juice, and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla on medium speed until light and smooth. Fold in 1/4 cup batter. Mixing until smooth.
  • Drop cream cheese mixture into tube pan, avoiding edges of pan and smooth with an offset spatula.
  • Spread remaining 1/2 cup batter and spread over cream cheese filling. Using an offset spatula to swirl the filling into the cake, avoiding edges and sides of pan. Rap or drop cake pan 2 or 3 times to dislodge any bubbles.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until a long stick inserted in the cake part (not the cream cheese part) comes out clean.
  • Cool cake in pan on wire rack for an hour. Remove cake from pan and cool top up another hour or until completely cool.
  • Wrap any remaining cake in plastic or an airtight container.


  • Read instructions first. The lemon zest and vanilla is used twice.
  • Measure or weigh out ingredients before beginning.


Serving: 1sliceCalories: 334kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 5gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 90mgSodium: 301mgPotassium: 140mgFiber: 1gSugar: 22gVitamin A: 589IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 67mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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