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This simple blackberry coffee cake recipe is made with buttermilk, fresh blackberries, and an addictive pecan crumb topping. Soft, sweet, and full of fresh baked berry juices with a buttery crunch on top, this is a blackberry breakfast cake you’ll want every morning.
Despite being a California girl, born and raised, I actually strongly dislike the warm weather…except for the fact that it brings amazing fresh produce with it! I love berry season. I wait literally ALL YEAR for those first berries to strike the market, and eat them with abandon. Add them to a baked good, and I’m pretty much sold 100 percent.
This particular cake is just everything I love about coffee cake, tender and moist, with a crumbly sugary top. It’s made special by the bursts of tart-sweet berries that stud the top of the cake, hiding just below that crumb layer. While I make this whenever the craving strikes (often), this is also a perfect brunch for Mother’s day or another special occasion!
What is Coffee Cake?
As a kid I always thought coffee cake was cake made with coffee. Well here in the US, modern that is definitely not a rule. Back in the 17th century however, there were versions of sweet breads, eaten alongside coffee or tea, that did contain actual coffee flavor.
BUT, the origin of the name actually comes from coffee break tradition in Germany, where various of baked goods were had with their morning brew. Often these cakes were sweet yeast breads, but they eventually transformed into a cake with a streusal topping.
The modern US coffee cake includes a vast variety of flavors and preparations. Varieties now include fruit, nuts, and much more. Like this one!
Streusal Vs. Crumb TOpping
If we want to get technical, this particular recipe is a crumb topped cake, not a streusal topped cake.
- Streusal is traditionally a topping made with a ratio of sugar, butter, and flour (1:1:2) that results in a crumbling topping that bakes into almost a shortbread like cookie crust.
- Crumb toppings have a much higher ratio of sugar and butter, equal to if not more than the flour, resulting in a loose crumb like topping that crisps while baking.
But having a crumb topping doesn’t make it a crumb cake! A crumb cake is made up of mostly the crumb topping, while coffee cake has a much higher ratio of cake to crumb topping.
That being said what really matters is that you have a delicious cake and enjoy eating it, whatever you decide to call it.
This blackberry breakfast cake will come together with just your basic cake ingredients, plus a few add ons.
- Flour – Just your regular all purpose for this one!
- Sugar – either cane or granulated white sugar
- Eggs – 2 large, room temperature eggs
- Butter – Unsalted, COLD butter. It’s essential that its as cold as possible.
- Baking powder + Baking soda – both chemical leavening agents create a lovely rise.
- Salt – Because salt goes in everything.
- Vanilla – Because it makes things taste good.
- Blackberries – Fresh, juicy, and sweet are ideal.
- Pecans – Be sure to use the unsalted variety for this!
- Buttermilk – Instead of the traditional sour cream of coffee cake, buttermilk (the kind made from milk and vinegar is totally fine!) keeps the cake moist and helps it rise.
What’s amazing? These ingredients go together a few remarkably simple steps.
How to Make BlackBerry Coffee Cake
I love crumb toppings. But when I’m baking, that extra step of making the crumb topping only happens half the time. Sometimes I just don’t want to dirty up the extra dishes!
Which is why I love, love, love this recipe. Your batter and crumb topping happen practically all at once, in one bowl!
- First step, to simply dump and pulse! Add all your flour, sugar, baking soda and powder, and salt into a food processor. Pulse to blend, then add in all but 2 tablespoons of cold butter. Pulse until it resembles coarse crumbs the size of peas.
- Dump all that out into a large bowl, then return one cup of it to the food processor. Add in the remaining butter and pecans, then pulse again, until the nuts are more or less broken down. No need to go crazy. Boom. Crumb topping made. Put it in a bowl in the fridge until you’re ready for it.
- Add the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla to the flour mixture. Stir to combine, but don’t over-mix, there will be lumps. Pour that into a 9×13 baking dish.
- Top with blackberries. If you have monster blackberries, cut them in half. Small ones can go on whole. (This is important, really large berries just sink straight to the bottom!)
- Sprinkle your prepared crumb topping evenly over the top. Place in your preheated oven and bake for 35 minutes. That’s it!
Pro Tip: If you don’t have a food processor and want to do this by hand follow the same steps. First cut the 1/2 cup of butter into the flour mixture. Remove one cup, cut in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and add in the nuts. You’ll have to chop the pecans by hand first, but it will work just fine!
I did test this and the 9×13 works the best for perfect cake to crumb topping ratio. An 8×8 will work, but you’ll have a thicker cake, and will need to add 5 to 10 minutes to the bake time. Feel free to bake mini versions in mini loaf pans!
Sure! Blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, they’re all delicious, especially when paired with a soft buttermilk pecan coffee cake like this one. The important thing is that any fruit pieces you add are no larger than about a penny to avoid sinking.
Yes, simply replace the pecans with your nut of choice.
Sure, once baked and cooled, simply transfer to an airtight, freezer safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature and consume within 3 days.
Absolutely. I almost, almost think it’s better the second day! Simply cover and leave at room temperature, then serve when ready. It stays good on the counter for up to 3 days.
Enjoy Your Coffee Cake!
Go on, pour yourself a hot cup of coffee, and cut a nice piece of your sweet, delicious buttermilk, pecan, blackberry heaven. It’s gooey in all the right places, and crisp and caramelized in others.
It’s the perfect brunch cake, and easy to make, so dad’s or kids if you’re reading this, make this for mom on Mother’s day! Mom, if you’re reading this, print it out and leave it somewhere obvious ? They’ll get the hint.
I sincerely hope you enjoy this cake, both as a special treat and as a fun way to celebrate the arrival of berry season. Until next time, Happy Eating!
Other Cake recipes you may enjoy…
- Sicilian Whole Orange Cake
- Lemon Raspberry Ricotta Cake
- Rosemary Olive Oil Cake
- Chocolate Pear Cake
- Norwegian Apple Cake
- 2 1/4 Cup all-purpose flour
- 2 Cups white sugar cane or granulated
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 Cup butter, + 2 Tbs unsalted
- 1 Cup buttermilk *
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup pecans unsalted
- 2 cup blackberries
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Wash and dry blackberries gently, slicing in half if large. Set aside.
- Cut butter into chunks, keeping 2 tablespoons separate from the 1/2 cup.
- Place flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add in 1/2 cup of butter. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs no larger than peas.*
- Dump flour mixture into a large bowl. Return 1 cup to the food processor, add the remaining butter and pecans. Pulse until nuts break down and you have a coarse crumb mixture. Refrigerate crumb mixture.
- Add buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture. Stir until incorporated. The butter will remain chunky, this is what you want. Just stir until there are no dry spots or obvious spots of egg.
- Pour into a 9×13 baking dish. Top with blackberries, then with the crumb mixture. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool at least 10 minutes, cut and enjoy! Store in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap for 3 days.*
Originially published 5/2/2019, Updated 4/16/2020
Nutrition information and cooking times are provided as a best estimate. Values may vary based upon ingredients and equipment.