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Inspired by the rustic morning treat served in French farmhouses throughout the countryside, this simple breakfast cake is the perfect companion for a hot cup of coffee, tea or cocoa. Made with pantry staples and seasoned with nutmeg and vanilla, you can whip up the easy coffee cake in minutes! Prep ahead for quick grab-and-go breakfasts during the week, serve it for a holiday brunch, or enjoy a slice with a cozy drink for an afternoon snack. Kids and adults all go crazy for this down-home comfort cake!

Front shot of a slice of French farmhouse breakfast cake served on a white plate with the rest of the cake in the background

Easy Coffee Cake Recipe

I first discovered this easy breakfast cake recipe when reading Susan Loomis’ French Farmhouse Cookbook. I’ve slightly tweaked her version for my own farmhouse kitchen, but the basics remain the same: a rich, buttery pound cake that’s seasoned simply with nutmeg and vanilla, then dusted with powdered sugar.

Home cooks in Brittany, France regularly serve a version of le gâteau du petit déjeuner when hosting company for a morning meal. It’s not too sweet, has a slightly coarse texture, and is ideal for dipping in a big bowl of coffee. The cake reminds me of a Southern pound cake that we enjoy for dessert, but it’s smaller and baked in a round cake pan (rather than in a Bundt pan or loaf pan). It’s truly a morning delight, and one that you can conveniently prepare in advance so that you’re not fussing in the kitchen on a relaxing weekend.

Why is it called coffee cake?

What makes a coffee cake a coffee cake — especially if coffee isn’t one of the ingredients?! The French refer to this as “breakfast cake,” because it’s only slightly sweet and therefore perfectly acceptable for serving at the morning meal. In America, however, we often call this type of dish a coffee cake because the traditional sweet pound cake is an ideal complement to a cup of coffee or a foamy latte. When you’ve got a warm beverage and a slice of this French treat on your plate, it’s definitely not bad to eat cake for breakfast!

Serving a slice of French farmhouse breakfast cake with powdered sugar on top

How to Make Breakfast Cake

While you can adapt this recipe with dozens of different mix-ins and flavor varieties — from blueberry breakfast cake to lemon breakfast cake — the simple original is truly the best. The rustic cake is seasoned with nutmeg, which makes it taste like an old-fashioned donut! I highly recommend starting with this version, and then playing around with other ingredients for future baking experiments. You probably have everything that you need in your kitchen right now!

Ingredients for French Farmhouse Breakfast Cake

  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt
  • Salted butter
  • Vanilla extract
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Step 1: Mix Batter

Cream together the butter, vanilla and sugar until it’s nice and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, and then gradually add the sifted dry ingredients.

Mixing batter for easy coffee cake

Step 2: Transfer to Baking Pan

Spread the batter in a 9-inch round cake pan that has been greased and floured, lined with parchment, and greased and floured again. The batter will be very thick, so it helps to use a damp spatula to spread it out in an even layer.

Breakfast cake batter spread in a round cake pan

Step 3: Bake

Bake the cake in a 350 degree F oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. It will be a nice golden-brown color with crisp edges.

Baked coffee cake in a round pan

Step 4: Dust with Powdered Sugar

Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan to finish cooling completely. Once the cake is cool, dust with powdered sugar.

Lifting out a slice of French breakfast cake on a spatula

How to Eat Breakfast Cake

Serve a slice of the cake on its own with a cup of coffee for a simple and satisfying breakfast. For a more elaborate brunch spread, try pairing the cake with any of these other morning dishes:

How to Store Breakfast Cake

  • Store the cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
  • Store the cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  • Wrap tightly and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Close up shot of a fork digging into a slice of breakfast cake

Variations

  • For a classic coffee cake recipe, season the batter with cinnamon and nutmeg, then finish with a brown sugar and pecan streusel topping like this one.
  • Lemon Breakfast Cake: add the juice and zest from 1 lemon to the batter. Drizzle with a lemon glaze like this one once the cake has cooled.
  • Blueberry Breakfast Cake: gently fold 1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries into the batter at the very end.
  • For crunch, stir in toasted, chopped pecans or walnuts.
  • Add cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice. Fold in diced fresh apples for a fall-inspired morning treat.
  • Fresh or dried cranberries with the zest from 1 orange would be a nice twist for the holidays.
  • Dried currants or raisins would also be a good addition — similar to this Queen’s Cake recipe.
  • Instead of powdered sugar, try sprinkling the top of your cake with a cinnamon-sugar mixture before it goes in the oven.

Tips for Making the Best Breakfast Cake

  • Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, then butter and flour the paper. I like to use this baking spray that has flour in it as a shortcut. The layer of paper between the cake and the pan makes it easy to un-mold, but it also keeps any metallic flavor out of the cake.
  • Make sure that the ingredients are all at room temperature before preparing the batter.
  • The batter is supposed to be very thick, so don’t be alarmed. This will yield a rich, buttery pound cake for breakfast — what could be finer?!
  • If you’re enjoying cake a day (or more) later, reheat the leftovers to give the slices a nice, soft texture. Seriously — it tastes like a warm donut! Just loosely cover an individual slice and microwave for 15-20 seconds (or until warm). You can dust with additional powdered sugar, if necessary.
Front shot of a piece of breakfast cake with a bite taken out of it

More coffee cake recipes that you might enjoy:

Front shot of a slice of French farmhouse breakfast cake served on a white plate with the rest of the cake in the background

French Farmhouse Breakfast Cake

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Cooling Time 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 8 slices
Calories 352 kcal
Inspired by the rustic morning treat served in French farmhouses, this simple breakfast cake is the perfect companion for a hot cup of coffee, tea or cocoa!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 14 tablespoons (1 ¾ sticks) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan, then line with parchment paper and butter and flour the paper.
  • Sift flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl.
  • Using an electric mixer, cream the butter until it is pale yellow. Add vanilla and sugar; mix until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Gradually add the flour, being careful not to over-mix the batter.
  • Transfer batter to prepared pan. Tap it on the counter once or twice to shake out any air bubbles.
  • Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.
  • Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then remove from the pan to continue cooling.
  • Once the cake is completely cool, dust with powdered sugar, slice and serve.

Notes

  • Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, then butter and flour the paper. I like to use this baking spray that has flour in it as a shortcut. The layer of paper between the cake and the pan makes it easy to un-mold, but it also keeps any metallic flavor out of the cake.
  • Make sure that the ingredients are all at room temperature before preparing the batter.
  • The batter is supposed to be very thick, so don’t be alarmed. This will yield a rich, buttery pound cake for breakfast — what could be finer?!
  • If you’re enjoying cake a day (or more) later, reheat the leftovers to give the slices a nice, soft texture. Seriously — it tastes like a warm donut! Just loosely cover an individual slice and microwave for 15-20 seconds (or until warm). You can dust with additional powdered sugar, if necessary.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 352kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 5gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 114mgSodium: 273mgPotassium: 155mgFiber: 1gSugar: 17gVitamin A: 701IUCalcium: 62mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: breakfast cake, coffee cake recipe
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American, French
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is SCRUMPTIOUS! I will be making this regularly in the future. My three year old and I just whipped this up for breakfast. We were missing donuts from a local place, your description mentioned tasting like a donut. It does! Thanks for sharing.

  2. 5 stars
    Oh boy. This was so easy to make and the taste is just right! Why adulterate it with anything else! Pure simple buttery goodness!