This One Ingredient Makes Extra-Moist Coffee Cake, Every Time

We bet you have it in your fridge right now.

Christmas-Morning Coffee Cake
Photo: Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

In our opinion, there is no better way to start off a dreary morning than with a big cup o' joe—and a little something sweet. When we really need that extra boost to get out of bed and get the day started, a breakfast pastry or sweet bread is just the motivation we're looking for. These little treats have the power to turn any day into something special.

Here's our most recent strategy for combatting the Monday blues: bake a loaf of coffee cake on Sunday. That way, not only do you have a great Monday breakfast to look forward to, but you can enjoy slices throughout the workweek.

One of the many joys of coffee cake is that it is essentially a dessert ("cake" is in the name, after all) disguised as breakfast. Not to mention that coffee cake is a suitable snack no matter the time of day. Afternoon tea? The perfect time for coffee cake. Post-dinner treat? Coffee cake, plus a scoop of vanilla ice cream, makes dessert. Coffee cake also makes a lovely gift for friends or neighbors. Any cake that fills this many roles has already won our hearts.

Here at Southern Living, we've baked our fair share of coffee cakes—and we have the recipes to prove it. We've heard that our Cinnamon Coffee Cake has been the star of quite a few book club meetings. There's a coffee cake for every occasion, and our Christmas Morning Coffee Cake is best enjoyed right before opening presents. Our Caramel Apple Coffee Cake is for the fall; our Peach Streusel Coffee Cake is for the summer.

If you analyze the most popular coffee cake recipes that we've published, almost all of them contain one common ingredient: sour cream.

Coffee cake can get a reputation for being dry, especially after a few days of sitting out on your countertop. Sour cream is the do-it-all, extra-Southern ingredient that makes the moist coffee cake of your dreams. It gives the cake a soft, tender crumb and brings decadent moisture to a loaf that can tend towards dryness. Sour cream also helps to balance out the sweetness of the cake, adding a subtle tang that offsets the sugar and butter. No sour cream on hand? No problem. For a lighter swap, use yogurt in place of sour cream.

Now all that's left to do is get baking. Find some of our favorite coffee cake recipes here.

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