WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS: Towering Bundt-style coffee cakes and yeasted Danish rings are impressive, but sometimes we just want a simple cake we can whip up at the last minute for unexpected company or a weekend breakfast. We had in mind a rich yellow cake blanketed with crunchy, nutty streusel. To add to the convenience factor, we decided to make enough batter for two 9‑inch cakes, which could be refrigerated or frozen and baked anytime. Starting from the top, we mixed a basic streusel, including a generous tablespoon of cinnamon, and then stirred in a cup of chopped nuts. For a sturdy batter that could support the topping, thick, tangy sour cream worked better than milk, and three whole eggs added structure and richness. Granulated sugar alone yielded a rather one-dimensional flavor, so we swapped in brown sugar for half of the white, and added a teaspoon of cinnamon to echo the spicy notes in the topping. Mixed by hand (no heavy equipment needed), the batter came together quickly, and divided into two cake pans it baked quickly, too—in just half an hour.
MAKES TWO 9-INCH CAKES, EACH SERVING 6
TOTAL TIME 50 MINUTES (PLUS 30 MINUTES COOLING TIME)
Do not try to put all of the batter into one large cake pan because it will bake very unevenly.
1/3 cup packed (2 1/3 ounces) light brown sugar
1/3 cup (2 1/3 ounces) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (1 2/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped coarse
3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sour cream, room temperature
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1. FOR THE TOPPING: Using your fingers, mix brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, butter, and cinnamon together in bowl until mixture resembles wet sand. Stir in pecans.
2. FOR THE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9‑inch cake pans. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together in large bowl. In separate bowl, whisk sour cream, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, and melted butter together until smooth. Gently fold egg mixture into flour mixture until smooth.
3. Scrape batter into prepared pans, smooth tops, and sprinkle with topping.
Gently tap pans on counter to settle batter. Bake cakes until tops are golden and toothpick inserted in centers comes out with few crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking.
4. Let cakes cool in pans for 30 minutes. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
TO MAKE AHEAD: Portion batter and topping into cake pans but do not bake. Wrap cake pans tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 day, or freeze for up to 1 month. Bake cakes as directed, increasing baking time to 30 to 35 minutes if refrigerated, or 40 to 45 minutes if frozen (do not thaw cakes before baking).
➜ View more recipes