Junior League of Palo Alto Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Today I made a very good sour cream coffee cake using a recipe from the second private collection (dated 1984) of the ladies of the Palo Alto Junior League.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Here’s what they said in their intro:

“The lightest and loveliest of all the coffee cakes we have tested. The secret is in the proportions of the ingredients and cake flour is a must.”

I didn’t take any shortcuts but I did make some minor adjustments.

1) I used European style salted butter. The recipe calls for “butter” and I took that to mean salted. Use unsalted if you want, but you might need to add a litte extra salt to the batter.

2) increased the vanilla from 1/2 teaspoon to a good teaspoonful.

3) toasted the walnut pieces in a skillet then let them cool completely before mixing them with the streusel. I also used a tad more…about 2/3 cup total.

What we noticed about this cake was its incredibly light texture. The sifted cake flour is key, so make sure you sift.

If you enjoy this cake, or round coffee cakes in general, here’s another fun pan. I have my eye on this one, but am using my regular (taller) tube pan for now.

Here’s the recipe. It’s the same recipe as the one in the book, but I reordered the ingredients and changed the wording to match the way I did things. All credit goes to the lovely ladies of the Palo Alto Junior League, of course.

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Junior League of Palo Alto Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Junior League of Palo Alto Sour Cream Coffee Cake made with sour cream, cinnamon and nuts.
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12
Nut Mixture
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (toast and cool before using)
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 cup sifted cake flour (measure after sifting)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces butter, softened, regular salted type
  • 2 cups sugar, granulated
  • 2 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup sour cream (room temp if possible)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10 inch tube pan.
  2. Prepare nut mixture first. Stir together nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. Sift together the already-sifted cake flour, baking powder and salt and set the flour mixture aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar using high speed of an electric mixer for about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each egg. Beat in the vanilla, then fold in the sour cream. Add the flour mixture and stir with a mixing spoon (do not beat) into the batter, mixing until incorporated.
  5. Spoon about half of the batter into the greased/sprayed pan, then sprinkle a light ring of nut mixture over the batter. Spoon remaining batter over ring, then spoon remaining topping decoratively over top. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour. The Junior League baked theirs for one hour, but mine was most definitely done in 50 minutes.
  6. Let cool for 10 minutes in pan. Remove from pan by inverting onto a flat dish, then inverting again onto a rack to finish cooling. When you are ready to serve it, you can transfer it to a nice plate.
  7. Serves 12


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  1. says

    You can’t go wrong with a recipe from a Junior League Cookbook. I’ve gotten several over the years. I’ve got a bid on a square springform pan since you posted your bars the other day — darn it now I’ve got to see about that coffee cake pan!…..:o)

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