Bubbe Saltzman’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake

I had a weird glitch with this post yesterday so I am re-posting it. This recipe is too good not to share the details! You all most likely received the actual recipe, but no blog content so here goes one more time!

Here is the cake right out of the oven.

I am sure many of you know that Sour Cream Coffee Cake is a sacred Jewish tradition.  I got this recipe from my old friend Trudy Goldfarb Silverman. Trudy and I met 40 some odd years ago while we were both in grad school in Cambridge, MA. As do many friendships over time and distance, ours has ebbed and flowed, but also with true friendship, our bond remains strong. Trudy mentioned recently that she made this coffee cake. I happened to have a surplus of sour cream left over from holiday baking so asked her for the recipe. What I didn’t realize is that this recipe is from her Bubbe Saltzman.

Sarah Saltzman came to the United States through Ellis Island from Austria in the late 1800’s. That is how my own grandparents arrived in this country from Budapest, Hungary. Mrs. Saltzman had a bakery in Austria and when she arrived here opened another in Providence, Rhode Island. Trudy’s love of baking came from her Bubbe. I can just picture her as a little girl by her grandmothers side in the kitchen sifting, stirring, and getting ingredients just right!

Kaffee Kuchen, literally translated Coffee Cake, has been around for centuries. Most food historians agree that Coffee Cake originated in Northern Europe sometime in the 17th century, although with most food history there is some controversy. The Dutch claim they created the first sweet bread to be consumed with coffee. Coffee is not an ingredient in this delectable cake, but is traditionally served with a cup of coffee, hence the name.


One reason is the amount of fat. Bubbe Saltzman’s recipe calls for one cup of full fat sour cream, plus one stick of butter. Before refrigeration, milk was mainly consumed in a fermented form. Sour cream and buttermilk became essential ingredients in traditional Ashkenazi Jewish baking. And Ashkenazi Coffee Cake is almost always made with sour cream. About half the Jewish people around the world today identify with Ashkenazi, which means they descend from Jews living in Eastern and Central Europe.


The first time I made this cake I had a bit of a disaster. I think several things went wrong. I wanted so much for it to be perfect since it was a recipe so dear to my friend Trudy. First, I was rushing. Rule #1: never rush while baking. Next, I believe I chopped the walnuts for the struesel too finely. Third, I placed the struesel too thickly neglecting to spread evenly both inside and on top of the cake. I also pressed the struesel quite firmly into the batter. The recipe does call for pressing the struesel and also not bringing the struesel too close to the edge as it can stick, but I carried that instruction a little too far. And finally, because I was rushing I forgot to add the love.

It looked even worse than this photo shows.

The cake batter looked good, and when I first took the cake out, it looked beautiful, but within minutes and before my very eyes, the center of the cake started sinking and finally landed with a 2″ indentation around the entire cake. The cake itself still tasted delicious, but it was a bit doughy where the struesel sunk. 

Do not do this with your struesel.

This is how the struesel looked when I made the cake yesterday. And the cake baked much more evenly.

This time I chopped the walnuts into larger pieces and spread the struesel evenly. The struesel is a mixture of sugar, chopped walnuts, cinnamon and vanilla.

The preparation of the coffee cake is quite straightforward. Beat the softened butter, add eggs one at a time. Next add the sugar. Finally add the flour mixture and sour cream alternating, but beginning and ending with flour.

Butter, eggs and sugar ready for the flour mixture and sour cream.

Ready for struesel topping and to pop into the oven.

You want to heavily butter and flour the tube pan it will bake in. I used about 1 Tbsp. of butter. Gently sprinkle all side of the pan with flour and spill out any excess.

I am going to add the recipe in again so please just delete if you already saved the one you got earlier.

Today my entire kitchen smells like sweet cinnamon. I hope you enjoy this fabulous, old recipe as much as we are.




Bubbe Saltzman's Sour Cream Coffee Cake

I think you will love this moist, tender cake. The sour cream and butter make it rich and delicious! Not too sweet and perfect with a cup of Joe!


For the Struesel Topping

  • 1/2 cup White sugar
  • 2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla, extract I used Vanilla Bean paste.
  • 1/2 cup Walnuts chopped, but not too finely

For the Cake

  • 1 stick Butter, (8 Tbsp.) softened at room temperature, plus more for buttering the pan
  • 2 cups Flour, all-purpose white flour, plus more for the pan
  • 1 tsp. Baking powder
  • 1 tsp. Baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 cup White sugar
  • 2 Lge. Eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup Sour Cream (full fat)


For the Topping

  • Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

For the Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9" tube pan.
  • In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until well combined. Next add the sugar and beat again until thoroughly mixed. I used my stand mixer for this, but a hand-held would work well, too.
  • Add the flour mixture slowly, alternating with the sour cream, but beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until well incorporated.
  • Spread half the batter in a prepared pan and sprinkle with 1/2 of the struesel topping. Carefully spoon the rest of the batter on top and with an offset spatula spread the batter evenly on top. Sprinkle top of batter with the rest of the topping mixture. Bubbe Saltzman's recipe calls for gently pressing the topping into the batter. I skipped that step the second time I made the cake.
  • Bake until tester comes out clean. Mrs. Saltzman recommends 24 to 35 minutes. Not sure why mine took longer, but I cooked for 45 minutes and it was perfect.
  • Cool for 15 minutes, then carefully remove the sides. You may need to run a knife along the edge to coax it off. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  • You can serve either with the bottom still in place, or remove and place on your most beautiful cake platter!





  1. Trudy Silverman January 15, 2024 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the beautiful write up and showcasing my Bubbies delicious recipe! This was so touching ! It brought back a flood of wonderful memories.
    Thank you my dear friend… I hope your readers enjoy this as much!

    • Cindy Rabbitt January 15, 2024 at 6:25 pm - Reply

      That makes me so very happy! I was hoping to capture the memory of your grandmother! This really is THE best coffee cake either Jerry or I have every tasted. I look forward to hearing that story you mentioned in your text.

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