Vegan Coffee Cake full of nostalgia

Have you ever lost a favorite family recipe?  One of my favorite recipes as a kid was my family’s coffee cake.  My mom or my great aunts would make it for holiday mornings or get togethers.  This coffee cake had a light texture and a rich, nutty topping.  When the cake baked the whole house smelled like cinnamon.  For years I thought the recipe was lost.  I tried making various other coffee cake recipes (both before I went vegan and after), but none measured up.  The cake was never as tender, the topping not as flavorful.  Just never quite right.  About a year and a half ago my sister found a digital copy of family recipes my cousin put together for my aunt.  Lo and behold the coffee cake recipe was there!  I immediately veganized the recipe, threw it in the oven and crossed my fingers.  I was ecstatic when I bit into this vegan coffee cake.  Just like I remembered.  Now I make it for my family as often as I can.

Vegan Coffee Cake Slice

I will warn you that there is nothing healthy about this recipe.  It calls for a hefty amount of sugar and oil.  I have used applesauce for 1/4 cup of the oil in the past and it worked out well.  I want the coffee cake as close to the original version as possible, just without any animal ingredients, so I make it with all of the oil and sugar listed.

Vegan Coffee Cake Topping

The recipe uses a unique technique for making the topping and cake.  As you will see in the recipe below you mix the flour, sugars, spices and oil all together and form a crumble.  You take out 1 cup of this crumble and that becomes the topping.  The rest of the “crumble” is mixed with the remaining ingredients to make the cake.

Vegan Coffee Cake Pre Bake

For the topping you can add nuts if you like.  I normally add finely chopped walnuts or pecans.  In the version I baked last week I left off the nuts so Trey could take small pieces of the cake to school as a treat.  He loves this cake as much as I do.

Vegan Coffee CakeI assure you no one will ever know this is a vegan coffee cake.  It is fantastic to take to a holiday brunch, potluck or breakfast meeting.  Any mom in your life will appreciate waking up to the smell of this baking in the oven on Mother’s Day.

4.3 from 13 reviews
Vegan Coffee Cake
A tender vegan coffee cake with a crunchy cinnamon topping. No one will ever suspect this cake is missing animal ingredients. They will be too busy devouring each bite.
Recipe type: Breakfast
  • 2½ Cups Flour
  • ¾ Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • ½ Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • ½ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon, plus more for topping
  • ¼ Teaspoon Salt
  • ¾ Cup Canola Oil
  • 1 Cup Almond Milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)
  • ¼ Cup Plain Coconut or Soy Yogurt
  • 1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ½ Cup Finely Chopped Nuts (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x11 or 8x8 inch baking dish. Set aside.
  2. Sift flour, sugars, nutmeg, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and salt into a large bowl. Add oil and mix well until all oil is absorbed. Mixture will be crumbly. Take out 1 cup of mixture and set aside in a smaller bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl or measuring cup stir together almond milk, yogurt, vinegar, vanilla extract, baking soda and baking powder. Stir until combined. Add this liquid mixture to the large bowl of the flour mixture. Mix well and then pour the batter into the greased pan.
  4. If using chopped nuts add them to the 1 cup of set aside crumble mixture. Sprinkle the crumble topping over the batter in the pan. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes for a 9x11 inch cake. If using a 8x8 inch pan cooking time will be 35-40 minutes. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.


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Vegan Gretchen


  1. Angela Rae says

    Mine is baking in the oven now, smells divine, looks great, setting up nicely! I did swap in 1/2C ww flour, skipped the white sugar and added 1/2 raw maple syrup instead. This made the batter a bit runny so I added another 1/2 white flour. So far looks great, but it is taking a lot longer to cook (I’m at 45 mins right now still wet in the center. It is rising nicely on the edges,which is always the challenge with vegan baked goods. I’ll let you know how it turns out! #Vegan4Life

  2. Nina says

    How deep is your 8×8 pan? I did this in my 8×8 which I use all the time for cakes, brownies, etc. and it overflowed and made a burnt mess in my oven. I scraped the remaining batter into a pie dish and baked it that way. While it was tasty, I am hesitant to bake this again since it overflowed?

    • vegangretchen says

      Nina – sorry to hear that the cake overflowed. My 8×8 pan is 2 inches deep. I haven’t had any issues with it overflowing. You can also bake the coffee cake in a larger pan. The cake will be thinner, but still delicious. Thanks for trying out the recipe!

  3. Jade Lam says

    super delicious! my family didn’t even know it was vegan – – they usually harshly criticize the texture of cakes without eggs but this was a hit! will be making this again 🙂

    • vegangretchen says

      Hi Jade – I am so glad you tried the coffee cake and that you and your family enjoyed it. This cake is one of my all time favorites!

    • vegangretchen says

      Sorry to hear the cake didn’t work out for you Nicole. I’m not sure what would have prevented it from rising.

  4. Serena says

    The cake is really good- great flavour and texture. I did take about 40 min for mine to cook, and one negative I found was that the top didn’t really get crispy like the one in the picture even with the long cook time. Do you have any recommendations for this?

    • vegangretchen says

      Hi Serena – I’m glad the flavor and texture of the cake turned out well. The top of my cake isn’t super crispy. It is browned but not all that crisp. If you wanted a more crisp topping you could stir in a bit more oil to the topping. After you set aside the 1 cup of the crumble for the topping stir in a little additional oil. Hope that helps!

  5. Katie says

    I loved this so much! It was exactly what I was hoping for. I used coconut oil and canned coconut milk (in case anyone’s wondering if that works) and it was perfect, moist and delicious with really no coconut taste. I did increase the cinnamon a bit just in case the coconut flavor was too prominent but really I couldn’t taste coconut at all. Just yummy cinnamon deliciousness! Mine did take almost an extra 20 minutes in the oven, might have been the pan I used or the substitutions but I would suggest using a slightly bigger pan, especially if making this for breakfast so that you don’t have to wait too long. Thanks so much for the great recipe, I can’t wait to make it again. Next time I might be bad and add a little extra brown sugar to the topping!

    • vegangretchen says

      Hi Katie – I’m so glad you liked the cake. Great tip on using coconut oil and coconut milk. I’m making this cake for Easter brunch tomorrow. I may give your substitutions a try!

  6. Cara Ratkovich says

    Yummy with a capitol Y!! I made some adjustments like using vanilla almond yogurt, a little less brown sugar, and whole wheat flour. One thing I had to do is put the batter in a casserole dish (that’s all I had!) and it required to be baked for 55 mins. The crumbled top became browned and tasty. Next time (and there will be a next time) I will also add diced apple for an extra treat!

    • vegangretchen says

      So glad you liked it Cara! Adding diced apple sounds like a great addition. I have a Apple Pie muffin recipe on here that is very similar to this recipe and it includes grated apple. Another one to try out if you are looking for a muffin recipe!

  7. Caroline says

    Made this and substituted the soy/coconut yogurt for 1/4 cup of mashed bananas. Some pieces of the banana didn’t quite mix, but it still turned out delicious! Thanks for the great recipe 🙂

  8. Liz says

    Literally the best thing I’ve baked since becoming Vegan (and I bake a lot!). I used coconut oil instead of canola, and added a little orange zest for brightness. So moist, so delicious. My husband ate half the pan.

    • vegangretchen says

      Thank you so much for trying the recipe and letting me know how it turned out. I’m thrilled you and your husband liked it. I’m definitely going to try making it with coconut oil. Great idea!

  9. Lauren says

    This was such a delicious recipe! I used coconut oil in place of the vegetable oil as well as apple sauce in place of yogurt. I also substituted coconut sugar and raw cane sugar in place of the sugars. My cake turned out great and was so moist! Thank you!

  10. Monika Robinski says

    Cake came out awesome. Thank you so much. I don’t know why some people said it didn’t work out for them. I was a little afraid to try vegan cake recipes. Because of the overflowing comments I used a tall bundt cake and it came out so yummy, fluffy, moist and crunchy on the top, all my OMNI friends gobbled the WHOLE cake in one evening. Nothing but crumbs left. By the way, my store did not have plain yogurts so hesitantly I chose a small soy vanilla yogurt thinking I might mess it up but no, it turned out PERFECT. I just made two more this morning for coffee hour tomorrow at my church. And I printed out some recipes so the parishoners can pick some up and see that cruelty free baking is YUMMY. thanks so much again. My husband asked for more crumbly top next time so I made extra for these two cakes.

    • vegangretchen says

      Thanks for the feedback Monika! I am so happy to hear the you and your family and friends enjoyed the coffee cake. I hope your church friends enjoyed it as well.

  11. Carrie Reed says

    We all loved this recipe! I baked it in a 9×11 pan for 30 minutes and it came out great! I especially loved the clever trick of mixing all the flours and scooping out some for the crumble and using the rest for the dough. It saved time and made the whole thing come together quickly. We will make this again! Thanks for sharing!

    • vegangretchen says

      I’m so happy to hear you all enjoyed the recipe. Thanks for giving it a try and letting me know how it worked out.

  12. Crystal says

    Made this tonight, and it was fantastic! I subbed applesauce for the yogurt and loved it. I might put diced apple in the cake next time just to mix it up.

    Thanks for the recipe 🙂

    • vegangretchen says

      So glad you enjoyed the recipe Crystal. Subbing in applesauce (and adding apples) sounds like a great idea!


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