Sour Mood Sour Cream Coffee Cake

New year, same shit.  They say it’s all about the attitude so I guess I’m in a bit of trouble.  I hate feeling like I’m floundering all the time.  That there is not a single area in my life where I can say “I’m doing great.  I’ve totally got this under control.”  I feel like I’m just paddling at the surface, trying to keep afloat, but I keep slipping under.  A lot of this feeling stems from my work and I get that.  I was once told by a senior, well respected member of the bar that the fear, that sense of nervousness and self-doubt, never goes away.  He said that if it does, then you should be worried.  Without that feeling, you’ll never keep pushing yourself to do better.

I get that.

I think my levels of self-doubt, frustration and stress are unnaturally high.  I can’t let go of my mistakes.  When I realize that I’ve made one, I plunge into manic depths of guilt and regret.

It could be worse, right?  I was a criminal lawyer for five years and heard all kinds of crazy stuff about my clients’ lives.  It could be much worse.

Then why do I want to cry into my sour cream cake?  I need to get it together.
Instead of bombarding you any further with my tales of woe, let me share with you the most amazing sour cream coffee cake recipe ever. It’s my absolute favourite.

I’m going to be a woman of few words today since my words aren’t that pleasant to read.  I’ll let these photos speak for me.

Sour cream coffee cake (adapted from the fabulous Baking Bites)

Streusel topping

1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, chilled
1 1/2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped


1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temp
2/3 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1 large egg, room temp
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 10-inch round tube pan.

To prepare the streusel topping, stir together flour, sugar, salt and walnuts in a small bowl. Cut the butter into one inch cubes and rub it into the nut mixture with your fingers. The pieces should be no larger than a pea and the mixture should be crumbly.
To make the cake batter, whisk together the cake flour, all purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl or in the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, add in half of the flour mixture, followed by the sour cream. Mix together. Add in the remaining flour and mix only until the batter just comes together, with no dry streaks.

The batter will be very thick. Pour half of it into your tube pan and smooth the top with a rubbery spatula. Sprinkle the top evenly with half of the streusel mixture. Drop the remaining batter into the pan in evenly spaced dollops. Carefully, smooth the batter over the layer of streusel until it’s completely covered. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining streusel.
Bake the cake for 40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack before slicing.
It looks like a glorious nut encrusted donut when it’s done.
The cake is so incredibly delicate, moist and fragrant with vanilla and the slightest subtle tang from the sour cream.  The streusel is absolutely delicious – slightly crunchy, sweet, caramelized, and jam-packed with walnuts.  It tastes just as good and fresh for days afterwards.

So easy to make, so easy to eat. Perfect with a giant mug of tea or coffee.

Life can’t be all bad when there’s something this delectable to enjoy.

57 thoughts on “Sour Mood Sour Cream Coffee Cake

  1. We´ve all been there Nancy, and sometimes times like these bring about huge changes or decisions that affect your life in a good way.
    Sour cream coffee cakes are an awesome invention. This one looks just amazing! The color is gorgeous! And I´m surprised it´s served at a school.

    • Thanks, Paula. I was just being super bitter because I’ve had a terrible week so far. I wanted to post about this cake but couldn’t muster up anything positive to say about life. I feel much better today, especially after reading everyone’s super supportive comments.

  2. Nancy,
    I feel you girl. Hang in there. I wish I could offer you words of wisdom or words to make you feel better .. but I totally know where you are coming from. . all I can say is: Tomorrow is a new day. And damn girl, you have this cake.

    This may or may not speak to you. . but when I first started reading your post, I thought ok- she’s committed herself to too many things, she’s spread too thin . . and I was going to share this (this was a tweet – of all things- that spoke to me yesterday from a well known pastor here in the Seattle area: “The person that tries to do everything will do nothing well. Focus on a few things and do it well. Know it. Breathe it. Love it. Live it.”

    But your current state seems to be related to work and how you feel you’re doing at work and maybe putting too much pressure on yourself so again, I say, my friend: Tomorrow is a new day. 🙂 Hang in there! I sincerely hope things get better.

    The cake by the way is freaking awesome. LOVE.

    • Hey Alice, you did offer me wonderful words of wisdom to make me feel better so thank you! It is indeed a new day – I feel much better today than I did yesterday. Man I was in a foul mood! Work has been crazy stressful and I’ve been letting it get me down, big time. That’s a fabulous quote – Twitter’s not only good for insane rants and food blog announcements 😉 It’s very true and it’s something I try to apply to my life all the time. Sometimes it’s just hard, y’know? Thanks for being so supportive as always. And yes, this cake is the bomb! Try it – I know you ‘n the family would love it.

  3. You are right, your levels of self-doubt, frustration and stress ridiculous. If you can’t let go of your ‘mistakes’, how do you go about not making them again? The senior person you mention has hit the nail on the head, and I agree with what he has said. The only way you can grow as a person is take whatever you do, whether it be a mistake or otherwise, on face value and learn from that experience. Don’t over analyse it – No guilt, no regrets. BTW – the cake is deliciously brilliant 🙂

    • You’re totally right and logically, I know it. It’s these damn emotions that take over and get in the way! I was just being a whiny, self-centered baby yesterday, feeling the need to spread my misery. Today’s a new day and I’m in a much better head space. No guilt, no regret, more cake = true words to live by! 😉

      • I’m glad you’re feeling better. Sometimes it’s good to let it all out. And as you can see with all the comments on your post, everyone is here to support you in your time of need (and also drool over the pics you post).

  4. Dear sistah friend,

    I’m currently comforting myself with sheet cake.

    Not a lawyer, but stressed nonetheless

    P.S. ~ I need this with some coffee, stat!

    • Thanks so much, Jen. Your comments always bring a huge smile to my face. And there ain’t nothin’ wrong with sheet cake comfort, I totally approve! I hope you feel better soon and can get back into the kitchen.

    • Thanks, Brianne! I totally feel like a brat today for writing this whiny post yesterday. Especially with everyone’s lovely, supportive comments. I hope you had a fabulous day!

  5. Girl…I can’t even begin to tell you how much I relate. I’m a friggin actor, I don’t know what’s going on in my life. I don’t have an agent. My boyfriend hates living in NY and wants nothing more than for us to move back to Ohio, which puts that doubt in my mind. Then I’m like…what would I do there? And yea…just…yeah.

    This coffee cake is needed. I love it. Thank you. *buries face in cake*

    • Aww, Kayle. Hearing what you’re going through makes me feel like a spoiled, selfish, whiny brat! I know that things aren’t that bad – I was just trying to spread some of my temporary misery yesterday. As for you – you’re there in NY because you followed your dreams and you’re working your ass off to make them come true. You’re such a sweet, wonderful person – I truly hope that everything works out for you. And I laughed at your “buries face in cake” comment. That’s further proof of how awesome and kick ass you are.

  6. Nancy, I wish I was there to give you a hug. Hang in there, buddy! Just remember to see the glass half full. You never know what tomorrow might bring you (I’m talking to myself, too as I’m writing this), so hang tight.

    On a yummy side, this coffee cake looks so awesome and I hope this comforts you.

    • Thanks so much, Linda! Wow, when I wrote these bitter, depressing words, I had no idea the huge outpouring of support I’d get from all of you. Reading wonderful comments like yours has really given me some much needed perspective. And the coffee cake definitely helped 😉

  7. I love a Streusel topping and adore a coffee cake so this sounds incredible. I think it’s safe to say that you are doing great with the cakes and have got the at least the baking totally under control, even if it feels you’re struggling with everything else.

    • Hi Fiona, thanks so much for stopping by and for your wonderful comments! I love the name of your blog – so awesome! Thank goodness I’m doing great with cakes, I seriously don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t bake (and then stuff my face afterwards) 😉

  8. Sorry to hear you’re having such a tough time Nancy. Trust me, I’ve been there and still fight those “am I good enough” feelings and self-doubt. But. I just try to tell myself to remember what is truly important…as hard as it is, do my best to prioritize, and keep moving forward. Somedays are much better than others. My daughter truly is what helps me the most! Hang in there dear…you are an AMAZING baker and not everybody can say that…so that is one thing you should be proud of. Gorgeous, scrumptious looking cake!! 🙂

    • Hey Brandi – God, I’m such a brat for posting this! You are too sweet with your words. I know that we all go through these dark periods of doubt, uncertainty and stress – I’m definitely not the only one! I just unfortunately love to spread my misery. Thanks for all the support, lady!

      • Anytime! I forgot to add, you’re a flippin riot!! You crack me up…even your comment “love to spread my misery” made me laugh out loud! See, you are a awesome baker and a comedian, everybody should want to be like you when they grow up…:)

  9. Sorry that you’re going through a stressful time Nancy,but remember “tomorrow is a new day”!A new day, fresh thoughts, great ideas that’s whats life is all about, my friend.Don’t let your today spoil your tomorrow,and btw this cake looks perfect to indulge in and forget everything else!I love the crumble topping :)Would be perfect with my Masala Chai 🙂

    • You’re definitely right, Soni. Tomorrow is a new day. In fact, when I woke up this morning, I felt 100% better than I did yesterday when I wrote this depressing post. I ate most of this cake myself, that’s how good it was (and how much of a pig I am!). I was actually thinking that it would taste great with your masala chai when I was reading your post this morning! Great minds think alike 😉

  10. I SO hear you on the sour mood. If it makes any difference I didn’t do anything great last year and I STILL am not moving forward with my life (I’m still squatting at home with my mom!). Keep on cooking, if you’re like me it makes everything better 😀

    • Oh, Sarah, sorry to hear! And thanks for sharing. There’s something to be said about commiserating with another miserable soul, eh? Well, like I said in my post, it could always be worse, and I think we both have things that we can be thankful for, like all the delicious food we make and the community we’ve built, especially through Sunday Supper.

  11. love the name you’ve given this post. I hope you are feeling at least a bit better now! I think we all have a ton of personal struggles in life, some people are just better at covering it up and putting on a brave face than others. I find it helps to vent out my feelings to a really close friend, and then of course bake something fabulous which you have already done with this cake! keep your head up and know that you have strangers that care about you as well 🙂

    • Hey Lianna, thanks for your lovely comments! I am definitely feeling much better today – it’s amazing what a night’s sleep and a little perspective does. I can’t believe how many people posted such wonderful, supportive comments to my selfish whiny rant! Getting to know the food blogging community has been the most positive part of blogging for me. I love your blog – it’s absolutely gorgeous and the name is adorable. I’ll be following you along for sure!

  12. I can totally relate. In 2011, I was not happy with my life at all. Work, losing childhood friendships, relationships, living alone, feeling alone. I was so miserable and felt hopeless and worthless. It truly does get better if you hang on. One thing that helped me was cut out the negative stuff and realize things aren’t as big of a deal as I thought. Not sure what you could do differently at your job, but maybe if you asked for help or teamed up with a coworker?

    I’m going through a I don’t know what the hell I want career moment, career limbo if you will. I hate my job and wondering that even though I like video editing, I don’t feel like it’s the career for me. Then again I don’t fit into my company right now, so is it the position or the job? So move over and pass some cake because I’m a little stressed too 😀

    • Carla, I hate hearing someone as wonderful as you going through all of this! Although it’s comforting to know I’m not the only one constantly questioning myself, my decisions, and my place in life. I’m a big believer in everyone ending up where they’re supposed to be, so I know that you’re going to find your way to exactly what you were meant to do. It can just be hard on the journey there. Being an adult sucks hard sometimes, eh? Well, I’ll gladly share cake with you anytime!

  13. I feel like I should be giving you some sage advise about life but what really comes to mind while reading this post is that movie, “Like Water for Chocolate”. Maybe watch it with a mug full of that Mexican hot chocolate you guys bought from Mexico last year and add a couple of shots of baileys. That should do the trick at least temporarily. I guess what I really want to say is, cooking and baking and watching anything related to both is the cheapest, yummiest form of therapy. Keep on baking my friend.

    • Thanks, Ali! I love your recommendation – I think it would go a long way towards improving my mental health. Thanks for being a fabulous big sis. I’m so thrilled you started your blog! Reading it will be another source of pleasure for me.

  14. That is one PERFECT slice of coffeecake at the end, there. Yum.

    Nancy, I love how you always keep it real. I would read your words all day, even if you classify them as “unpleasant!” There are some bloggers were I’m like “really. Your life is that great?” But I can totally empathize with how you’re feeling. Like, I keep meaning to do all these things with my life so I have my toes dipped in all these pools (umm…they’re small pools. I’ve been struck with Stupid Analogy Syndrome lately) but I keep not diving in all the way and being good at any of them.

    For the record, I only know you virtually and I think you are SUPER COOL. So there. Put that in your cake and eat it! (And feel in control! Because you totally got this!)

    • lol, one of my goals in life is definitely to always keep it real! And if you think I’m super cool, then it must be true. A woman as fabulous as you who loves pancakes as much as you do can’t be wrong. You’re obviously an excellent judge of character 😉 All kidding aside, thanks for you kind words, Erika. Your friendship has really meant a lot to me!

  15. I always tend to find myself gravitating towards the kitchen on my down days and this looks like a perfectly delicious way to turn anyone’s mood around. I have a Strawberry Cream Cheese coffee cake on my to-bake list for this weekend 🙂

    • Oooh, I hope you’ve made your strawberry cream cheese coffee cake. That sounds amazing! Yes, being in the kitchen is definitely my way to destress. How can you be unhappy around butter, flour and sugar?

  16. Did you see the movie The Help? Or read the book? There is a quote I love, love, love which is so apt for you dear Nancy. “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

    Confession: Many moons ago I was engaged to a lawyer. I know it’s a tough world. The legal system is lucky to have such a shiny light in their midst =)

    And the food blogoshpere is lucky to have such a fine baker and cyberspace comrade.

    • Thanks so much for these super kind comments! I did read The Help and I loved it. That’s such a great line and I think we all should say it to ourselves. Whew, you dodged a bullet with the lawyer – we’re a miserable bunch! 😉 I’m really thankful for meeting awesome blogger friends such as you.

  17. Yup, this is one outstanding coffee cake. Unfortunately, eating it all might add to your stress level, though a healthy sized slice might take the edge off 🙂 I’m hoping things calm down a bit for you…I can’t imagine having a full time job AND blogging (blogging stresses me out enough on some days!).

    PS…Yes, I was referring to Vancouver, BC. My dad did a sabbatical at UBC for a year when I was in high school. Our whole family moved to Canada (I was in Grade 11)…and we LOVED it! I took Bill back when I was pregnant with our oldest, then we went as a family about 5 years ago 🙂

    • Thanks for the lovely comments, Liz! It’s a double edged sword – I’m so happy when I’m eating the stuff that I bake and then I feel guilt afterwards as my pants keep getting tighter. Oy! Vancouver would welcome you with open arms any time you want to visit. Let me know if you ever do – it’d be awesome to meet and bake together 🙂

  18. I think this cake looks perfect. I’m not sure why I’m such a sucker for these cakes, but I am. Maybe it’s because the homemade versions are just so much superior to any store bought versions! I can’t wait to try it!

  19. Pingback: Orange Cranberry Ginger Chocolate Muffins- #FoodMemory Guest Post withGotta Get Baked - Savoring Italy

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