This strawberry lemon coffee cake is made with wholesome ingredients and bright flavors -- perfect for spring holidays or just enjoying a slow weekend morning.
Let me just say, it's a good thing I conveniently became a coffee cake making pro approximately one week ago.
Because generally speaking, we should always have coffee cake recipes in our back pockets for celebrating all the important holidays, such as -- and especially -- two of my favorites: Saturday and Sunday. Also, Mother's Day happens to coincide with this coming Sunday, so that counts for two holidays. Yup. We definitely need a coffee cake for that.
And while I'd normally let you pick the flavor, I'm going to have to make an executive decision just this one time. Partly because it would be criminal for me to keep this from you, and partly because it's for the good of your soul: Strawberry Lemon Coffee Cake.
And in case I didn't have you at strawberry and lemon, here are all the reasons you need to make this coffee cake pretty much immediately:
- It's strawberry season, people!
- It has lemon juice and *zest*, so basically if you make it you're a fancy person. (I don't know why I think citrus zest is fancy. But just pretend it is.)
- The flavors are so bright and taste like summer is coming.
- The crumb topping is THICK (was I one of the classy kids that just ate the crumb topping off the coffee cake? Pffff. WAS I EVER.).
- It gives you even more of an excuse to overdose on coffee.
- It has that perfect tenderness and texture -- you know, the kind where the crumbs stick to your fork just so.
- Your friends and family will seriously love you if you serve them a piece of this at any moment.
- It's definitely a treat, but made wholesome with whole wheat pastry flour and other high-quality ingredients.
- Because you love your mom, and what better way to show her you love her than to bake a strawberry lemon coffee cake in her honor on Mother's Day?!
So let's make this thing, shall we?
How to Make Strawberry Lemon Coffee Cake
Okay, so this is a two-part deal: you've got your crumb topping, and you've got your coffee cake.
Make the Crumb Topping
Or streusel, or whatever you want to call it knowing that it's a beautiful combination of flour, butter (room temp, unsalted), brown sugar, and salt that turns into the gloriously pebbly, browned top of your coffee cake. All you need to do here is combine the ingredients and scrunch them together using your hands, until you get a texture like wet sand. Make sure to place the crumble mixture in the fridge while you prep everything else (you want the butter to be chillier than room temp before you put it in the oven).
Make the Cake
Just your usual cake-baking situation! You'll need a stand mixer or handheld mixer to cream butter and brown sugar, then eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, and some Greek yogurt. As for the dry ingredients -- whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt -- toss those into a separate bowl and mix them together. Make sure you use a big enough bowl, because the next step is to pour the wet into the dry and stir until just combined. Then you fold in some chop fresh strawberries (tossed in cornstarch beforehand to absorb moisture), and you've got yourself some strawberry lemon cake better.
Assemble and Bake
Pour the cake batter into the prepared springform pan, spread it out a bit (don't worry about it being perfectly even!). Then, use a spoon or measuring cup to distribute the crumb topping across the cake batter layer. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes (you can test it with a toothpick at 45 minutes if you'd like), and let it cool for 15 minutes before serving. With coffee 😉
BUT, before you leave and become a coffee cake making professional too, I have a few tips for you to keep in mind.
Strawberry Lemon Coffee Cake Tips
- Parchment paper. There's nothing worse than a cake that breaks apart from being stuck to the pan, after all your hard work! To prevent this tragedy of a baking experience, use your springform pan to trace a circle onto some parchment paper. Cut the circle out, and place it in the springform pan after spraying with some nonstick spray (yes, both!), and before pouring the batter into the pan. Yay! Cake insurance.
- Bust out the cornstarch. Okay, so you might not always be making coffee cake with little hidden gems of fresh fruit in it, but in the case of this strawberry lemon coffee cake, you're going to need some cornstarch. Before you add the strawberries to the cake batter, be sure to toss them in cornstarch (two tablespoons should do it). Otherwise, when baked, the juice from the strawberries will leak into the cake and you'll be left with soggy cake on the inside (I speak from experience!).
- Full fat Greek yogurt. Coffee cake often includes sour cream as a dairy element. To make it a little more wholesome and nutrient-dense, I swapped in some Greek yogurt with delicious results. But here's my recommendation: don't sell yourself short by getting the fat free kind. Let it be whole milk Greek yogurt for the best possible flavor! Bonus: full fat dairy is less processed.
- All brown sugar. Traditionally, the cake part of a coffee cake is made with regular white sugar. This strawberry lemon coffee cake recipe omits white sugar altogether, because brown sugar adds a lot more moisture and unbeatable flavor. (Side note: I love this kind of brown sugar!)
Aaaand for those of you that just can't follow structure or do what you're told (me too!), below are some ways you can play around without pulling something inedible out of your oven.
Adjustments and Substitutions
- Swap ⅓ cup of whole wheat pastry flour for another flour, such as spelt, oat, or buckwheat flour. If you don't have whole wheat pastry flour on hand, use whole wheat or white whole wheat flour as your base flour.
- If you want to reduce the amount of flour overall, you can make a top solely out of nuts and brown sugar. Combine ⅔ cup brown sugar + 1 cup chopped pecans (or another nut of choice -- walnuts or slivered almonds would work well). These will melt together in the oven and create a sort of candied nut topping.
- Swap ⅓ cup of the brown sugar in the cake for maple syrup or honey.
- Add some pecans, slivered almonds, or oats to the topping for added flavor and texture.
- Instead of lemon juice and vanilla extract, add two teaspoons of lemon extract.
Okay friends, you're ready. Go make this -- I'll bring the coffee.Print
Strawberry Lemon Coffee Cake
A strawberry lemon coffee cake with wholesome ingredients and bright spring flavors. Perfect for casual weekend mornings with coffee or special occasions like Mother's Day brunch.
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 50
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 8 slices 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: American
For the crumb topping:
- 1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ⅔ cup brown sugar, loosely packed
- a healthy pinch of salt
For the cake:
- 1 ⅔ cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 scant teaspoon salt
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 1 ½ cups strawberries, chopped
- 3-4 tablespoon cornstarch
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Juice from one whole lemon
- ⅔ cup whole milk Greek yogurt
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Use a 9-inch springform pan to trace a circle onto some parchment paper. Cut the circle out, spray springform pan with nonstick spray, and line with the parchment paper circle.
- Make the crumb topping: Combine whole wheat pastry flour, butter, brown sugar, and salt in a bowl. Use your hands to scrunch everything together until you get the texture the wet sand. Place the bowl in the fridge until you're ready to use (this part is critical for getting that wonderfully pebbly top -- it will chill the butter back up so that when you put it in the oven, it won't melt the entire crumble).
- Make the cake: Combine strawberries with cornstarch and set aside. In a large bowl, combine whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Next, in a bowl with a stand mixer attachment (or any large bowl if you use a handheld mixer), cream together butter and brown sugar until combined (about a minute). Add eggs, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and Greek yogurt. Beat until completely combined, scraping down the sides as necessary (another minute or so). Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the strawberries until evenly distributed in the batter.
- Assemble: Pour the coffee bake batter into the prepared springform pan. The batter will be thick! You can spread it out a bit, but don't worry about it being perfectly flat across the top. Fetch your topping from the fridge and evenly distribute it across the top using a large spoon or measuring cup.
- Bake at 350 for 50 minutes. To make sure it's done, stick a toothpick in the middle and if it comes out with a few moist crumbs, you're good to go. If you plan to serve immediately, allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes first.
Keywords: strawberry lemon coffee cake, coffee cake, brunch, Mother's Day brunch