Streusel Kuchen (German Coffee Cake)

5 from 3 votes

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German Coffee Cake is an old Mennonite delicacy that goes back to the earliest part of my memories of growing up in a big farmhouse.

Headquarters for my beautiful mom, who was always tending her expansive garden or preparing for the next onslaught of hired men and family members who would soon take over our big kitchen table.

There’s something special about family recipes, and most of us have a couple of them that seem to be almost a part of who we are as a person.

German coffee cake with berries.
This coffee cake is just one of our easy Amish recipes.

What is it?

Growing up, I don’t think the word brunch was in our vocabulary.

So much has changed since those days but certain things like this Amish recipe for coffee cake from the Mennonite Community Cookbook remain timeless.

Gernman coffee cake and berries
You can start this old-fashioned coffee cake the night before, making it an overnight coffee cake recipe.
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That’s all well and good because today I’m pretty familiar with the term and this coffee cake is tailor-made for a brunch of any occasion.

What makes this different?

The thing that distinguishes this German coffee cake from other classic coffee cake recipes is that there is yeast in this Kuchen, which is the German word for cake.

Not only does it give you a high crumble but this old fashioned coffee cake recipe also yields four coffee cakes. If this doesn’t make you the most popular baker on your street, then nothing will!

Ingredients  for German Coffee Cake (Streusel Kuchen)

  • Milk
  • Shortening
  • Egg
  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Yeast
  • Warm Water

How to make it

Slice of Sreusel kuchen with fork
It takes a bit of time and work to make this coffee cake, but every bite makes it worth the effort.

You’re going to start making this coffee cake by heating some milk in a double boiler. A sure sign of an old-fashioned bread or cake recipe!

There are a few reasons why old recipes instruct you to scald milk before adding it, these include:

  • For health reasons, back in the days before you could buy pasteurized milk.
  • Milk is a good carrier of flavors, so heating it and infusing it with other ingredients like vanilla, fresh mint, or any number of other dried or fresh ingredients can enhance the recipe.
  • Heating or scaling milk can cut back on cooking or baking time.

Health reasons aside, the most important reason for heating milk in bread and cake recipes is that the heat will neutralize the whey protein in milk that can weaken the gluten and keep the dough from rising sufficiently.

Yeast being proofed in warm water.
Proofing the yeast in warm water is a good way to “prove” that the yeast is still alive and will give your coffee cake a good rise.

While you are allowing the milk to cool you can cream the butter and sugar mixture. If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, this is the way to go!

Next, you will dissolve the yeast in some warm water and allow it to proof.

Those little bubbles that rise to the surface are telling you that the yeast is alive and well and ready to do its job by making this coffee cake rise to the heavens.

Adding heated milk to coffee cake recipe.
Like many homemade bread and cakes recipes, heated milk is added to this coffee cake recipe.

Once the milk is cooled to a lukewarm temperature, start adding it into the creamed sugar mixture.

Add a little flour, a little milk, more flour, and more milk, and a beaten egg white to the coffee cake batter.

Dough for raised coffee cake.
The first rise of this dough can be done over a couple of hours or overnight for an overnight coffee cake.

Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise for a few hours, or overnight in the refrigerator.

This first rising of dough is when flavor and texture develop, thanks to the fermentation process of the yeast.

Proofing dough for coffee cake.
Divide the dough into four portions before the final proof in separate pans.

Once the first rising of dough is complete, you can divide into four portions and place each of them into their own pie pan and let them rise for another 90 minutes.

The second rising is what is referred to as proofing the dough.

A plate of unbaked coffee cake
Use a traditional crumb topping for the coffee cake after the dough has proofed from the second rising.

Once the dough is proofed from it’s second rising, it’s time to make and add the streusel crumbs for this streusel kuchen, or German coffee cake.

Crumb Topping Ingredients for Streusel Kuchen

  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Flour
  • Vanilla
  • Butter
  • Chopped  Nuts

Each of the four coffee cakes should bake for about 20 minutes in a 425° oven.

Although you will be tempted to slice and eat this coffee cake as soon as it comes out of the oven, let it set to cool just a bit before eating!

A plate of food, with Coffee cake
This coffee cake takes about 20 minutes to bake.

There is one more important addition to this streusel kuchen that you won’t find written in any recipe.

This coffee cake was never served without pure maple syrup.

Not. Once.

It’s mandatory.

I won’t eat it any other way.

Its how my mom made it.

Adding Pure maple syrup to coffee cake.
A drizzle of pure maple syrup on top of this coffee cake takes this treat to a whole new level.

If you are lucky enough to add maple syrup to this coffee cake, make sure it is the real thing: PURE MAPLE SYRUP.

Look for light color and high grade, it isn’t cheap, but it’s so worth it!

Fun food fact: It takes forty gallons of sap to produce a single gallon of maple syrup!

Brunch table with German coffee cake.
Coffee cake is the perfect addition to any brunch.

Give this coffee cake a try, and be sure to top it with a little maple syrup, and although my mom never served mimosas with hers, I highly recommend it!

If you follow a gluten-free diet, you should try this gluten-free coffee cake; it’s OMG delicious!

Special thanks to Dixie Crystals for generously sponsoring this coffee cake recipe.

If you’ve tried this Coffee Cake or any other recipe on Platter Talk please let us know your thoughts in the comments below, we love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW US on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what we have cooking.

Other delicious cake recipes

Try more of our Coffee Cake Recipes!

Streusel Kuchen (German Coffee Cake)

5 from 3 votes
This overnight coffee cake comes from the Mennonite Community Cookbook.
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Yield: 32


For the Coffee Cake

  • 2 cups Whole milk
  • 1/2 cup Shortening, or butter
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 Egg, divided into yolk and white
  • 6.5 cups Flour
  • 1/4 oz Dry active yeast, 1 packet
  • 1/3 cup Water, lukewarm

For the Streusel

  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup Flour
  • 3 tbsp Butter, soft
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp Chopped nuts


For the Coffee Cake

  • Heat milk to boiling in the top of double boiler and let it cool until lukewarm.

  • Cream together the butter, sugar, salt, and egg yolk. Add milk and flour, alternately, to the above mixture.

  • Place yeast in the warm water, stir to dissolve and then add to the mixture. A Beat egg white until stiff and add to batter. Allow to rise in covers bowl overnight or until light.

  • Divide into 4 parts and pat each into a greased pie pan.  Let rise 1 1/2 hours.
  • Combine the coffee cake streusel topping ingredients in a separate bowl and use a fork to make a crumb mixture. Evenly sprinkle the crumbs over each coffee cake. Bake for 20 minutes at 425° F.


Calories: 188kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 9mg, Sodium: 55mg, Potassium: 55mg, Fiber: 0g, Sugar: 10g, Vitamin A: 65IU, Calcium: 24mg, Iron: 1.3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Brunch
Cuisine: Amish, German, Mennonite
Tried this recipe?Mention @plattertalk or tag #plattertalk!
Platter Talk  greatfully acknowledges  the  following sponsors for sponsoring Brunch Week: Dixie Crystals, Cabot Cheese, Sweets & Treats, Joyjolt  and Torani for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for Brunch Week recipes. All opinions are those of Platter Talk’s alone.

Meet the Platter Talk Guys

Dan & Scott split their time between Wisconsin and Southwest Florida and are dads to six boys. Good food runs through their veins, and they love showing others how to cook easy recipes.

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  1. What size pans are you using? I am assuming you fold in the egg white. Instructions are a little vague and I am a seasoned cook. I will definitely try it though. It looks beautiful!

    1. Hi Karen. Use 8″ pie pans for these, and yes, the egg white is folded in. Your question is making me want to drop what I am doing on this cold Saturday afternoon and pop a couple of these in the oven!