This zucchini coffee cake is dense, moist and perfectly flavorful with hints of cinnamon, brown sugar and vanilla. The zucchini dissolves as the cake bakes to give a tender cake crumb that pairs perfectly with the crunchy streusel on top. Serve this crumb cake for brunch, afternoon tea or a comforting dessert.
Zucchini is the perfect ingredient for tender, moist and comforting baked goods. And because I love a good coffee cake, it was only a matter of time before making a zucchini version. This zucchini cake is extremely moist with hints of cinnamon, brown sugar and vanilla. The zucchini dissolves as the cake bakes to leave you with the perfect cake crumb. Then it’s topped with buttery cinnamon streusel for a delicious crunch. I also like to add a drizzle of glaze, but that’s optional. Since it’s a coffee cake recipe, it’s not quite as sweet and a little more dense than my other zucchini cake recipe that I top with cream cheese frosting.
It’s delicious for breakfast, brunch or a comforting mid afternoon treat with a cup of coffee or tea. And if you’re not really a cake for breakfast type of person, it also makes for a delicious dessert that’s not too sweet and perfectly homey.
Making Zucchini Coffee Cake
Below are step-by-step photos to take you through the process, along with recipe tips and the reasoning to using certain ingredients and techniques.
Star by making the streusel topping. You’ll whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Then whisk in the melted butter – I typically do this with a fork. The mixture, by definition, should be crumbly. I like to use melted butter whisked in instead of cold butter cut in for this crumb topping. I find it’s a little more moist, which works well on top of this cake.
Then it’s time to get on with the zucchini cake butter. Because it’s made with melted butter, you can do the whole thing by hand. Note that the cake batter is thick and therefore you need to be mindful not to overmix. Overmixing will lead to a tough cake crumb.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt. The cinnamon and nutmeg really add to the flavor, so be sure not to leave them out. Note that when measuring flour, always whisk first. Then spoon into a dry measuring cup and level off the top. For the most accurate results, use a scale and weigh in grams.
- Then in a separate large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla extract and eggs. The melted butter should be slightly cooled and the eggs should be at room temperature. Hot butter and cold eggs can lead to scrambled eggs – which we definitely don’t want.
- Then whisk the sour cream into the wet ingredients. Any coffee cake should be incredibly moist and dense – which makes sour cream the perfect ingredient. Just like the eggs, it should be at room temperature to ensure easier mixing and so that the batter doesn’t curdle.
- Stir the grated zucchini into the wet ingredients. For this recipe, there is no need to blot the grated zucchini with paper towel.
- Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the mixture.
- Gently fold the batter together using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. The batter will be thick. Doing this gently by hand ensures that you do not overmix and end up with a tough cake.
Then it’s time to assemble and bake the cake. Pour/spoon the batter into your prepared pan and smooth the top. Then sprinkle the crumble on top to cover an even layer. The cake will bake in your preheated oven for about 40-45 minutes. When it’s done baking an inserted toothpick should come out clean and if you give the pan a gentle nudge it should not wobble.
Pro Tip: I always recommend wrapping the outside of your springform pan with aluminum foil. This way if the seal isn’t perfectly tight, it won’t leak butter into your oven and and lead to a burning smell.
Note: The recipe for the streusel will give you a very thick layer of streusel. You do not need to use all of it if you don’t want to. Just be sure that the whole cake is evenly covered in streusel before baking. Some of the streusel will dissolve into the cake as it bakes.
The glaze for this recipe is totally option, but definitely delicious. You will need to ensure that the cake is fully cooled before adding the glaze, otherwise it will melt into the cake. Delicious – but you won’t see a pretty drizzle like the photos.
A Note About Baking with Zucchini
Fresh zucchini will always yield the best results. For this recipe, you’ll need 1 ¼ cups grated zucchini. You do not need to peel the zucchini before grating – just cut off the ends. You’ll need about 1 ½ small zucchinis, or 1 medium zucchini. Measure the zucchini after grating. For this recipe, you should grate the zucchini with a finer cheese grater. More finely grated zucchini will dissolve beautifully into the batter and add so much moisture.
This zucchini cake is moist, flavorful and perfect with crunchy cinnamon streusel topping. For more delicious zucchini recipes, be sure to try:
Zucchini Coffee Cake
- 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan there is too much batter to use an 8-inch (20 cm) round springform pan
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (125 grams)
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar (67 grams)
- ⅓ cup brown sugar (70 grams) light or dark
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter (75 grams) melted
Zucchini Cake Batter
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (250 grams)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon I often use up to 1 ½ teaspoons
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter (112 grams) melted
- ¾ cup granulated sugar (150 grams)
- ¼ cup brown sugar (53 grams) light or dark
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup sour cream (120 ml) room temperature
- 1 ¼ cup grated zucchini
- 1 cup powdered sugar (110 grams)
- 2 tablespoons milk or cream
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Lightly grease and flour a 9-inch round springform pan. I recommend wrapping the outside with aluminum foil to ensure that the pan doesn't leak.
- Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and sugars.
- Whisk the melted butter with a fork. The mixture should form crumbles. Set aside.
Zucchini Cake Batter
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract.
- Whisk the sour cream into the butter mixture.
- Stir the grated zucchini into the butter mixture.
- Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the well.
- Gently fold the mixture together using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Be careful not to overmix. The batter will be thick.
Assembling and Baking the Cake
- Pour/spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top into an even layer.
- Sprinkle the streusel topping over top of the cake. Make sure the cake is entirely covered in an even layer. If you only want a thinner layer of streusel, then you won't need to use it all.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean or with a few dry crumbs and if you give the pan a nudge it doesn't wobble in the middle.
- Remove from the oven and let cool.
Glaze & Serving
- Whisk together the powdered sugar and the milk. If needed, whisk in a little more powdered sugar or milk - the glaze should be opaque but thin enough to drizzle.
- Trace around the edge of the cake with a thin knife. Then unclamp the outer ring of the springform pan.
- Drizzle the cooled cake with the glaze. You can either do this with a spoon or pour the glaze into a small ziploc bag and cut off the bottom corner.
- Slice with a sharp, thin knife. I recommend serving on the bottom of the springform pan.
- Pan Sizes: Be sure to use a 9-inch (23-cm) round springform pan as opposed to a 9-inch sandwich pan. A 9-inch sandwich tin has lower sides and therefore will not hold all the batter. This recipe can also be made in a 9x9 inch (23x23 cm) square baking pan. I would start checking the cake around 35 minutes.
- Sour Cream: Sour cream can be substituted with plain Greek yogurt. Be sure to use full-fat.
- Room Temperature Ingredients: The sour cream and eggs should be at room temperature before getting started. This ensures easier mixing so that you do not overmix the batter.
- Zucchini: You will need about 1 ½ small zucchinis or 1 medium zucchini for this recipe. Measure after grating. You do not need to peel the zucchini first. Simply cut off the ends and grate using a fine grater.
- Storage: Store covered or in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. Bake is best fresh.
- Nutrition: Details provided are an estimate only and based on 1 slice of cake with glaze, assuming the cake is sliced into 10 uniform pieces and all the streusel and glaze is used.