This vegan coffee cake is a soft and light vanilla cake with a cinnamon sugar filling and a crunchy sweet crumb topping finished off with a simple glaze for that little bit extra. It’s completely dairy free, egg free and vegan and uses simple pantry ingredients. You’ll love this one for the holidays or lazy Sunday family brunches.
A coffee cake, despite the name, is not a cake that contains coffee but rather one that is served with coffee. They are usually light, buttery, full of cinnamon and deliciously sweet that pairs perfectly with a strong brew.
This particular vegan coffee cake has a crunchy, buttery, sweet top layer (known as a crumble topping or streusel) and hiding beneath is the most incredibly soft vanilla cake that’s been swirled with cinnamon sugar giving gooey and soft cinnamon roll vibes.
This cake is all about texture and of course celebrating cinnamon sugar.
Coffee cakes with cinnamon streusel or crumble topping are a staple in America, however it’s a recipe that is not common here in Australia. It’s commonly made for holiday breakfasts and while cake for breakfast isn’t really a thing here, morning tea is, and that’s exactly what this cake is all about.
So brew your favourite tea or make a cup of coffee and sit back on the verandah and enjoy a slice of this American treat, the Aussie way!
There is this common misconception that vegan cakes are healthier than regular cakes. And while sure some cakes are made with healthier ingredient swaps, many are not, including the ones you find on this website. This cake for example contains a lot of sugar, so if you prefer to keep things sugar free, you might want to skip this one!
If you’re looking for something a little simpler (I understand this cake has several components) then try my super simple cinnamon tea cake which is the same concept as in, it’s made to serve with tea rather than containing tea, but if you want to serve it with coffee I won’t tell.
Don’t be intimidated by the length of the ingredients section in the recipe card below. Many of the ingredients are repeated across the different components and they are all pantry staples so as long as your baking pantry is well stocked, you should have everything you need ready to make this cake.
- Plain flour – known as all purpose flour in the US, we use this in the cake itself as well as in the crumb topping.
- Sugar – we’re using white sugar in the cake itself and then brown sugar for the filling and topping. I just use regular light brown sugar for the best flavour as dark brown sugar could be overpowering of the delicate vanilla cake.
- Baking powder and Bicarbonate of soda – using both baking powder and bicarb soda, also known as baking soda in the US to ensure the cake rises and is soft and light.
- Vanilla extract – to flavour the cake.
- Canola oil – used in the cake to keep the crumb soft and moist. I recommend using any light tasting oil here as you don’t want to use anything that’s going to leave an oily taste.
- Dairy free milk – I’m using oat milk but you could also use almond milk or soy milk. I don’t recommend using coconut milk as that will change the flavour and make the cake denser.
- White vinegar – is going to react with the bicarbonate of soda to give us the softest, lightest cake. I don’t recommend substituting this with a different vinegar as you really want to make sure it’s tasteless in a vanilla cake.
- Dairy free butter – used just in the crumb topping, this gives the buttery flavour to the cake we need. I always use Nuttelex buttery for the best flavour without containing any dairy.
- Ground cinnamon – this is going to be our main flavour so we use a decent amount in both the crumb topping and the cake filling.
We also finish the cake with an optional simple glaze made from icing sugar and water which isn’t included in the above ingredients picture.
For this recipe you’re going to need a large 23x33cm or 9×13 inch rectangular cake pan. You want something with at least 2 inch high sides as this cake will rise a bit as it bakes.
You’ll want to line it with baking paper and a light spray of cooking oil, making sure the baking paper is going up the sides of the pan as the crumb topping has a tendency to stick, so this will make releasing the cake much easier.
You’ll also need a few bowls as there are a few elements that make up this cake, but you’ll only need a whisk. That’s right, you don’t need to worry about getting out your electric mixer for this one!
Start by making your vanilla cake batter. Mix your dry ingredients together in one bowl, then in another add the sugar, canola oil and vanilla and whisk that up. You’ll also want to add the white vinegar to the dairy free milk and then alternate the addition of the milk and dry ingredients to the bowl with the sugar, whisking between each addition until your batter forms.
Next, make your filing by mixing together the brown sugar and ground cinnamon.
And finally, make the topping. Add the dairy free butter, brown sugar, plain flour and cinnamon to a bowl and mix together. I prefer to use my hands in this step to rub the butter into the flour and sugar until the consistency is like wet sand.
Assemble the cake by pouring half of the batter into the base of the pan. Sprinkle with the filling mixture then pour over the remaining batter. Sprinkle the topping over the batter and you’re ready to bake!
Bake in the preheated oven for about 30-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. All ovens run a bit differently, so make sure you use the skewer method to determine when the cake is done.
As important as it is to make sure the cake is cooked all the way through, you also don’t want to over cook it as the cake will continue to cook while it cools, so as soon as that skewer comes out clean, take it out.
Also if you have any hot spots in your oven, the topping may get a little bit dark, so if this is the case for you, just rotate the cake a couple of times during baking to prevent this.
Once the cake is baked, let it cool completely before making the glaze by whisking together the icing sugar and water and drizzling over the top.
I do recommend waiting until it’s completely cool before slicing to ensure clean slices, however if you’re anything like me the smell of the cinnamon might just be too much and you’ll want to dig right in.
That’s fine, and the cake was definitely still warm when I was taking these photos so you’ll just notice the slices are a bit messy but hey, I just didn’t want to wait!
I personally believe that this cake is at its absolute best fresh from the oven, but you can store it for up to three days at room temperature in an airtight container.
If you’re in a humid area, the crumb topping may soften overtime, so you want to make sure it’s kept in a dry area for the best results.
More vegan cake recipes:
Vegan Coffee Cake
For the vanilla cake:
- 3 cups plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups white sugar
- ½ cup canola oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups dairy free milk
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
For the filling:
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
For the crumb topping:
- 60 grams dairy free butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
For the glaze:
- ¼ cup icing sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons water
- Preheat the oven to 180°C or 160°C fan-forced and line a 23x33cm (9×13 inch) rectangular baking tray with cooking oil spray and baking paper. Make sure you line the sides of the baking pan with the paper all the way up as the cake will rise and the topping has a tendency to stick to the pan.
- Start by making the separate components of the cake. To make the vanilla cake, add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt to a bowl and whisk to combine.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the white sugar, canola oil and vanilla and whisk to combine. Add the white vinegar to the milk and then add half to the bowl with the sugar and mix.
- Add in half the flour mixture, whisking to combine before adding in the remaining milk followed by the remaining flour and whisk together until the batter just comes together. Set aside while you make the filling and topping.
- To make the filling, mix together the brown sugar and ground cinnamon until well combined and set aside.
- To make the topping, add the dairy free butter, brown sugar, plain flour and cinnamon and mix together using your hands to rub the butter into the flour and sugar until the consistency is like wet sand.
- Assemble the cake. Pour half of the cake batter into the prepared baking tray. Sprinkle over the filling mixture evenly. Pour the remaining batter over the top.
- Sprinkle the topping evenly over the top of the cake, right to the edges. Place the cake into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool completely before making the glaze by whisking together the icing sugar and water and drizzling over the top. Slice into squares and enjoy!
Nutritional information is provided as a guide only and is calculated using automated online tools, therefore we cannot guarantee the accuracy. We encourage you to make your own calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe.