This from-scratch Cherry Coffee Cake is a great summer breakfast treat you can enjoy any time of the year using canned cherry pie filling! It is bursting with sweet and tart flavors, and is topped with golden cinnamon crumbs and vanilla glaze. So jumpstart your day with a luscious slice of this cherry-filled cake paired with a steaming cup of coffee.
If you have not tried freshly baked coffee cake in the morning, you are sorely missing out! There is something so indulgently decadent about having cake for breakfast and a hot cuppa. It is one of my guilty weekend six-in-the-morning pleasures, after a frenzied week of "mom" mornings.
Despite the name of this cake, it does not contain coffee at all. A coffee cake is defined in two ways. First, it is a cake made with coffee as one of its main ingredients. The second is a sweet treat intended to be enjoyed with coffee or tea, just like my Dried Cranberry Coffee Cake and this Cherry Coffee Cake.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Sweeten your breakfast all year round. No fresh cherries? No problem! This recipe uses pre-made cherry pie filling that you can buy at your local groceries in the middle of winter.
- Made easy! Using canned cherry pie filling means fewer ingredients to buy and less time in the kitchen!
- Use other pie fillings. I love the mix of sweet and sour that cherries bring into this recipe. However, you can quickly adapt this recipe to use other fruits or berry pie fillings.
- Not just for breakfast. Since this recipe makes 18 pieces per batch, you can enjoy the rest as an afternoon treat or even as a dessert.
Key ingredients and why we use them
The beauty of a coffee cake is that you can make it as often as you like because it requires simple pantry staples. This coffee crumble cake uses baking essentials like flour, eggs, baking powder, sugar, butter, and water. The rest are easy to grab and store, so you can make them when you want!
Ground Cinnamon: This will give the cake crust a warm and festive flavor, making it great for the holidays too!
Unsalted Butter: Sliced into small cubes and used cold. This will give the crust a crumbly and flaky texture. Place the butter cubes in the fridge if you are not using them immediately.
Vanilla Extract: I used this for both the crust and the glaze. The delicate flavor perfectly complements the cherry pie filling. Here's what to substitute for vanilla extract in a pinch!
Milk: I recommend whole milk for the vanilla glaze, but milk alternatives and low-fat milk will work also. See my suggestions for substitutions for whole milk if you don't have any on hand. A favorite of mine is using half-and-half and then freezing the extra to use for later.
Confectioners' Sugar: Using this powdery sugar will give you a smoother glaze!
Cherry Pie Filling: Use any brand you like. If you have fresh cherries, you can make the filling from scratch using my Sour Cherry Pie recipe.
I used a 9 x 13-inch baking pan (a ¼ sheet cake size) and sliced them into 6x3 squares. You will also need parchment paper that is 13 inches wide by 20 inches long. The extra paper hanging on the sides will allow you to easily pull the cake out of the baking sheet after baking.
Heather's helpful hints
Using cold butter when cutting it into your flour is essential to get the right texture for the cake. If you have warm hands, you may want to use a pastry cutter. The warmth from your hand can melt the butter.
TOP TIP: The humidity level of your kitchen may also affect the cake's outcome. When it is cold and dry, you will need more than 2 to 4 tablespoons of water for the dough. Add the liquid a tablespoon at a time to make sure it does not get too moist.
If you are in a hurry to serve this, you can place the cake in the fridge after cooling it at room temperature for an hour.
Frequently asked questions
It can be because it is over-baked, or you used too little water when making the dough. Remember that the dough needs more liquid if your room lacks humidity.
Though there are similarities, a crumb cake is made of 50% crumb and 50% cake. On the other hand, a coffee cake uses fewer crumbs, more like a streusel.
This is not a coffee-flavored cake. The term coffee cake means it is a baked treat that is best enjoyed with coffee or tea.
Absolutely! This cake is fridge and freezer-friendly, so you can make a big batch to enjoy for months!
1. Add butter to dry ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add the cubed butter.
2. Incorporate butter and wet ingredients. Work the butter in with your hands until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal. Add the egg, water, and vanilla extract to the flour and butter mixture and mix with a fork to form the dough.
3. Layer ingredients and bake. Using your hands, press about two-thirds of the dough into the bottom of your prepared pan. Pour the cherry pie filling over the top. Crumble the remaining dough over the pie filling. Bake in the oven for about 40 - 50 minutes.
Make ahead and storage tips
Make it in advance, so you do not have to rush through your morning meal! Place the cake slices in an airtight container in a cool and dry spot at room temperature for three days or in the fridge for a week. You can also freeze your iced bars for up to three months. Then, to thaw them, leave them in the refrigerator overnight and bring them to room temperature before you serve.
- Try this recipe using apple, blueberry, or peach pie filling. You can also try making it using my raspberry compote recipe.
- Top it with chopped nuts like macadamia, cashew, and almond to give it an extra crunch and flavor.
- You can make a fruity glaze by using fruit juice instead of milk.
Love cherries? Here are more cherry-filled treats for you to try!
- Chocolate Cherry Almond Amish Friendship Bread- a unique twist on the traditional Amish cinnamon-flavored bread. With the addition of chocolate pudding, cherries, and almonds, this recipe is moist and full of flavor.
- Dark Chocolate and Cherry Granola Bars- These dark chocolate and cherry granola bars are a delicious and healthy snack on the go!
Cherry Coffee Cake
- 9 x 13 inch baking pan
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup unsalted butter cold, diced in ¼ inch cubes
- 1 large egg
- 2-4 tablespoons water depending on humidity (see notes)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 can cherry pie filling 21 ounces
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 13" x 9" x 2" aluminum rectangular cake pan with nonstick cooking spray and line with a parchment paper sling for easy removal from the pan. Next, spray the sling with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add the cubed butter and work it in with your hands until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal; there should be no butter pieces remaining.
- Add the egg, water, and vanilla extract to the flour and butter mixture and mix with a fork to form the dough.
- Using your hands, press about two-thirds of the dough into the bottom of your prepared pan. Pour the cherry pie filling over the top. Crumble the remaining dough over the pie filling.
- Bake in the oven for about 40 - 50 minutes until you see the cherries bubbling and the crumble layer starting to turn golden.
- Once cooled, lift the bars from the pan by the ends of the parchment paper sling and transfer them to a cutting board. Mine takes about 2-3 hours to cool completely. Sometimes I let them cool at room temperature for 1 hour and transfer them to the refrigerator to speed things up.
- Once cooled, mix ingredients for the glaze and drizzle over the top. Enjoy!
Notes and Tips
- Humid Conditions: Depending on the humidity of your kitchen, you will need to use 2-4 tablespoons of water. I find that when I make this in the winter, the recipe calls for additional water.
Parchment Sling: To make the sling, cut a piece of parchment paper 13 inches wide by 20 inches long, and lay it in the pan with equal amounts of extra parchment hanging over each end.
- Milk: I recommend whole milk for the vanilla glaze, but milk alternatives and low-fat milk will work also.
- Freezer Instructions: You can freeze your iced bars for up to three months. To thaw them, leave them in the refrigerator overnight and bring them to room temperature before you serve.
- Cutting Butter: You want to use cold butter when cutting it into your flour. If you have warm hands, you may want to use a pastry cutter. The warmth from your hand can melt the butter.
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