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Perfect Vegan Coffee Cake (Gluten Free option)

Hands down the BEST vegan coffee cake you will ever have!  With a perfect crumb to cake ratio, a thick ribbon of cinnamon sugar running throughout the middle, and an extra soft and fluffy cake part (thanks to a special ingredient), this may just be your new favorite treat!  

Close up of one piece of cake on a plate with a forkful taken out

Coffee Cake.  Let’s skip over the part where I talk about how Coffee Cake doesn’t even have coffee in it and how weird that it’s just named for the beverage it’s meant to pair with yada yada yada.. let’s jump to the part where we talk about THIS vegan coffee cake.  Guys.. look at it!  The cinnamon sugar layer is substantial, not just a little sprinkling to give it some color.  The crumb topping is nearly the size of the cake itself, and if you tell me that’s too much crumb then you’re not living your life to the fullest.  The cake part is SO soft and fluffy, even without these added extras it’s a perfect snack.  Oh and then the icing on top??  Yes.  Yes to that, too.

I played around with this recipe a few different ways before landing here, and oh man am I happy with the end result.  When I was taking these photos I tried a few pictures that had a big bite taken out of the cake, and honestly I knew immediately those photos weren’t working well, but I just kept going back and being like “well maybe if I bite THIS piece instead.. or take ANOTHER bite from over here..”.  This cake is dangerously good.  So let’s make it!!   

Artistic photo of a few pieces of the cake pulled away from the square, one on its side

How To Make It:

I teased a secret ingredient earlier, I’m sure you’re on the edge of your seat.  My secret ingredient – drumroll please – is using part almond flour in the cake mixture!  This adds a beautiful and subtle element of flavor, texture, and moisture throughout, and it really can’t be beat. 

Anyway, this vegan coffee cake is amazingly easy, it just takes a little patience (and a few bowls) to put it all together.  There are three elements of the cake to make:

  • The cake batter itself
  • The crumbs
  • The cinnamon sugar ribbon

(Well, four if you count the icing, but let’s not jump ahead).  Like I said earlier, honestly the cake itself is so wonderful, you can leave out the cinnamon sugar layer, or cut back the crumbs, or leave off the icing, and it would still be fantastic.  But I think if you’re doing it, let’s do it RIGHT. 

The first thing you should do is make the vegan buttermilk that will go into the cake batter.  Haven’t done this before?  It’s so easy!  Basically you use non-dairy milk and mix it with a bit of apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, or lemon juice, and let it sit for a few minutes to curdle.  This gives it a thicker texture and keeps the end result extra moist and well formed. 

While the milk is curdling, I like to prep the dry cake ingredients, the crumbs, and the cinnamon sugar layer, starting with the cinnamon sugar layer since that is all dry and can be made in about 1 minute then set aside.  That is just a simple mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon, use your fingers to make sure there are no big clumps, and that’s it!

For the crumbs, everything is just mixed together in one bowl, nothing fancy.  Gluten free (or all-purpose) flour, granulated sugar, packed brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and neutral oil.  I also use my hands to mix this one, making sure to get the crumbs crumbled into smaller pieces and not large clumps.  See the photo below for reference!

Cake batter in a glass bowl
Cake batter fully combined
Batter for the crumb topping in a bowl
Crumb mixture

Finally, it’s vegan coffee cake time.  Mix the flour, almond flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and granulated sugar (see the Ingredients Needed section to learn how to make the cake portion sugar free!).  Then in a separate bowl whisk together the vegan buttermilk, neutral oil, and vanilla extract until combined.  Mix wet and dry together until it is just combined – don’t overmix! – and you are ready to put your cake together.

Start by spooning half of the cake batter into a parchment paper lined 8×8 pan (if you want to use a 9×13 just double all the ingredients) and smooth out so it’s an even layer across the bottom.  Then gently sprinkle the whole cinnamon sugar mixture evenly across this whole layer.  See the first photo below for reference.  Next up you add the other half of the cake batter on top. 

For best results here (aka how to do this and not totally ruin the cinnamon sugar layer you just so beautifully put together), I’d suggest using a spoon to drop little clumps of the dough all across the top of the cinnamon sugar layer, then use your fingers to carefully spread the dough to cover the whole area of the pan.  You want to do this without disturbing the cinnamon sugar layer too much, this way it stays in a clean line for the completed cake.  The second photo below shows this part.

First layer of cake batter plus layer of cinnamon sugar in the pan
First layer of cake batter plus layer of cinnamon sugar in the pan
Second cake layer on top of cinnamon sugar layer unbaked in the pan
Second cake layer on top of cinnamon sugar layer unbaked in the pan
Cake fully put together, unbaked in the pan
Cake fully put together, unbaked in the pan

Finally, add the crumbs generously over the top.  You don’t need to press them down, just sprinkle around.  You can use the entire mixture for a very crumb heavy cake like you see in the photos, or use less if you prefer a lighter crumb.  The third photo above shows this part of the process. NOTE – the binder clips you see in these photos are my way of keeping the parchment paper from slipping down while I build the cake in the pan. I remove them before baking!!

Your cake is now ready to bake!  I find 40 minute to be my exact sweet spot, so I’d suggest anywhere from 38-42 minutes depending on your oven strength.  You can test for doneness by sticking in a toothpick and making sure it comes out with crumbs, no wet batter.  Move the pan onto a cooling rack, I like to let it sit for 20-30 minutes to come to room temperature, but if you want to remove it sooner just do so carefully as it will be heavy in the middle.

If you want to make icing, this is your final step!  Mix powdered sugar with non-dairy milk to the consistency you desire, and drizzle over the top.   Then that’s it! Time to eat your homemade amazing vegan coffee cake!!

Nutritional info can be found below in the Notes section below the recipe instructions.

Storage:

After the cake has fully cooled, seal air-tight in plastic wrap or a large Tupperware, and keep at room temperature.  It will stay good around 3-5 days.  You can also freeze it and it should stay good for a couple months.

Close up of the cake cut into pieces with icing over the top

Pro Tips & Tools:

  • Make sure you are measuring your flour either by weight or using the spoon and level method.  Do not scoop directly from the container, as you will wind up with too much! This is so important! If you want to buy a pre-made gluten free flour blend, make sure it’s King Arthur’s Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour, it is BY FAR the best one for my recipes, NOT Bob’s Red Mills or any others. If you want to make a homemade blend, here is a link to the one I use.
  • Make sure you measure your liquid ingredients using liquid measuring cups.  This will ensure accuracy!  I love this set.

Ingredients Needed:

  • Non-dairy milk – any will work here
  • Apple cider vinegar – to curdle the vegan buttermilk.  Can also be white vinegar or lemon juice
  • Neutral oil – any will work here, I always use grapeseed
  • Vanilla extract
  • Flour – Make sure you are measuring your flour either by weight or using the spoon and level method.  Do not scoop directly from the container, as you will wind up with too much! This is so important! If you want to buy a pre-made gluten free flour blend, make sure it’s King Arthur’s Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour, it is BY FAR the best one for my recipes, NOT Bob’s Red Mills or any others. If you want to make a homemade blend, here is a link to the one I use.
  • Almond flour
  • Baking powder – I recommend using baking powder that has no added aluminum. This one is my go-to.
  • Cinnamon
  • Salt
  • Brown sugar & granulated sugar – Both sugars are really necessary here, though you’re only using the granulated one in the cake, the brown is for the middle layer and the crumb topping. If you are trying to cut back on your sugar intake, or make the cake itself sugar free, I love using this Monkfruit Sweetener in place of the granulated sugar.
  • Powdered sugar – optional, if you choose to make icing. If you want this part to be sugar free, you can use this Monkfruit Powdered Sweetener in place of powdered sugar.
Close up of the side of the cake cut into

What To Bake Next:

Close up of one piece of cake on a plate with a forkful taken out

Perfect Vegan Coffee Cake (Gluten Free option)

Hands down the BEST coffee cake you will ever have!  With a perfect crumb to cake ratio, a thick ribbon of cinnamon sugar running throughout the middle, and an extra soft and fluffy cake part (thanks to a special ingredient), this may just be your new favorite treat!  
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack, tea party
Servings 16 pieces

Ingredients
  

Cake Ingredients

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¼  cup neutral oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • cups gluten free flour can sub all-purpose if desired. See “Ingredients Needed” section for recommendations on specific gluten free flour blends, and what to do if yours does not contain xantham gum
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar *if you want a sugar free option, this links to my favorite sweetener, you can substitute it 1:1 in place of regular granulated sugar
  • tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt

Cinnamon Sugar Layer Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Crumb Topping Ingredients

  • cups gluten free flour can sub all-purpose if desired. This links to my favorite store bought gluten free flour blend that works best with all of my recipes, or see “Ingredients Needed” section for further info.
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup neutral oil

Icing Ingredients

  • 1 cup powdered sugar *if you want a sugar free option, this links to my favorite powdered sweetener, you can substitute it 1:1 in place of regular powdered sugar
  • 5-6 tbsp non-dairy milk

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper (if you are using a 9×13 pan just double all the ingredient amounts)
  • Start by making the vegan buttermilk by combining the non-dairy milk with the apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar or lemon juice) and set aside for 5-10 minutes to curdle.
  • While the milk is curdling, make the cinnamon sugar layer by mixing together the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.  Then do the same with the crumbs, mix all ingredients in the crumb section above in a separate small bowl and set aside as well.  Use your fingers to break the crumbs into small pieces, not huge chunks.
  • Now for the cake batter.  Mix the gluten free flour, almond flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and granulated sugar in a bowl and set aside.  Once the vegan buttermilk is ready, whisk that together with neutral oil and vanilla extract, and then add in the dry cake ingredients and mix until just combined.
  • Time to put the cake together – there are photos above if you want to follow along.  Start by spooning half of the cake batter into the parchment lined pan, and use a spatula to smooth evenly across the bottom of the pan.  Next, sprinkle the whole cinnamon sugar layer mixture evenly across the top of the smoothed cake batter.  After that, add the remaining cake batter on top of the cinnamon sugar layer.  To help prevent messing up the cinnamon sugar layer, I’d suggest adding the batter all around in little clumps, then using your fingers to smooth it evenly across the whole area of the pan.
  • Finally, generously add the crumb topping on top of everything.  You don’t need to press them in at all, just sprinkle around evenly.  You can use the entire crumb mixture for a heavy topping like you see in these photos, or use less if you want a lighter layer.
  • Put the pan into the oven for 38-42 minutes (my sweet spot is exactly 40), you can test for doneness by sticking a toothpick in and making sure it comes out just with crumbs, no wet batter.  Once the cake is ready remove from the oven and put the pan directly on a cooling rack.  I like to let the cake continue to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes before removing.
  • Lastly, if you want to make icing to drizzle over the top, mix the powdered sugar and non-dairy milk together to your desired consistency.
  • Eat and enjoy!

Notes

NUTRITION INFO

Total amount: 16 pieces 
Serving size: 1 piece
Per serving amounts: (note – this does not account for the optional icing over the top, but does account for using all the crumb topping)
  • Calories – 278
  • Grams of fat – 12.5
  • Grams of carbs – 38.7
  • Grams of protein – 3.4
Keyword cinnamon sugar, coffee cake, crumb cake, vegan coffee cake
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