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The Only Mother's Day Recipe You Need

A scrumptious coffee cake with endless variations, and so easy the kids can make

nicole persun headshot pinto portrait

Published on: May 06, 2017

Coffee cake
Photo credit: Nicole Persun

Ah, Mother’s Day. While most families have brunch and shower Mom with gifts, my mom and I do things a little differently. When I was little, we would spend a day out in the garden. As a teen, my gifts consisted of farm chores like mucking horse stalls and cleaning water troughs. Now that I am fully fledged, it’s not much different. I still get her gift certificates for the nursery and help out on the farm. This year, dusting the chickens for mites is at the top of Mom’s list (yucky for me, happy for the chickens), but as I get older, I get the urge to spoil my mother in the more traditional ways: pedicures, shoe shopping, and breakfast.

And for that breakfast, I only need one recipe. Having worked as a baker during college, I’ve found many yummy recipes for baked goods, but nothing like this one. It tastes like you slaved all day — but is so simple the kids could make it on their own. I’m not sure who originally came up with adding sour cream to coffee cake, but they deserve an award.

Since my mother and I prioritize quality time on Mother’s Day, this year, we’ll likely make this recipe together. However, dads, if you’re hoping to surprise Mom with breakfast in bed, this is a foolproof recipe that’s sure to impress. Depending on how old your child is, this can be a fun recipe to tackle as a team: have them measure the flour, choose the fruit toppings, and add the eggs. Or, if they’re older, they can make the whole recipe on their own.

Easiest scrumptious coffee cake with endless variations

nicole and her mom
Nicole and her mom | Photo credit: Nicole Persun


  • 1 c. salted butter
  • 2 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs (best if laid by freshly dusted chickens — you’re welcome, Mom)
  • 2 T. vanilla
  • 2 c. sour cream
  • 2 c. flour (if Mom is gluten-free, Namaste gluten free flour blend can be substituted cup for cup, along with an added teaspoon of baking powder)
  • 1 T. plus 1 t. baking powder
  • ½ t. salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350º F and prepare a 12-inch round cake pan (or a few smaller round pans) with baking spray. If you don’t have any spray, you can grease the pan with butter and sprinkle evenly with flour.  
  2. In the mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until just incorporated. Do not over mix or scrape down the sides of the bowl at any time — trust me, it’s better this way.
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until fully mixed.
  4. Add the sour cream and mix on medium.
  5. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix in on low speed until lumps form, then increase the speed to medium and mix until only a few lumps remain.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s), scraping the bowl so that all the butter/sugar bits are in the pan — they caramelize in the oven and add an oh-so yummy texture. Make sure to leave an inch of space at the top — this recipe rises, so do not overfill your pan!
  7. Top with frozen fruit, nuts, streusel, or any combination of the three, leaving a bare half-inch around the outer edge of the cake. Don’t bother with pretty designs, as the fruit sinks into the batter during baking. Try variations (see below).
  8. Bake for around 50 minutes on the lowest oven rack (times may vary depending on the oven). I like to set the cake pan on a cookie sheet, just in case the batter rises more than expected and spills over. When done, the cake should be a nice golden brown on top, and appear almost gooey in the middle. Try not to over bake, or the coffeecake will sink as it cools. A toothpick will come out clean when it’s done.
  9. When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Or serve it warm. Hell, put some vanilla ice cream on top. It’s Mother’s Day, which is the perfect time to splurge.


Note: With this recipe, frozen fruit actually cooks better in the oven; if you use fresh fruit, I suggest you freeze it before adding.

  • Blueberry peach: 1 cup peaches, 1 cup blueberries
  • Mixed berry: 1.5–2 cups of berries, tossed in an optional teaspoon of sugar
  • Apple pie: 1.5– 2 cups of peeled apple chunks, tossed with 1 tablespoon white sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and topped with a sprinkling of streusel
  • Ginger peach: Toss 1.5-2 cups of peaches with a teaspoon of sugar and 1-3 teaspoons of fresh grated ginger
  • Banana pecan: 1.5 cups of frozen banana chunks with ¼ cup of chopped pecans, tossed with ½ teaspoon cinnamon


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