Rich Coffeecake with Sweet Cheese Filling

Yeasted Coffeecake

If you only think about bread when you think about baking with yeast, think again. This cake is all sorts of fantabulous. I had heard rumblings about yeasted coffeecakes before and officially added them to the master baking list, but it took awhile for me to get down to it. I loved the recipe that is in my treasured Baking Illustrated cookbook, but it makes two cakes. And I kept thinking that I had no idea what I would do with two large coffeecakes. Well, I finally had a brainstorm. It’s now Lent and a local fish fry includes a bake sale every Friday, so I checked to see if they accepted donations (of course they do!) and my problem was solved. Throw in that as soon as I decided to bake these my mom said she needed a dessert for her monthly card club and was there anything I could whip up. Cakes #1 AND #2 now had homes. Although that meant that I couldn’t eat half of one all on my own, which is what likely would have happened had I not been a good citizen and sent them on their way. I admit I was mildly disappointed at only being able to taste a sliver, especially after realizing how absolutely delicious it was. I mean, it looks like a giant cinnamon roll – what’s not to love?!

Yeasted Coffeecake

You know I’m all about honesty here, so I’m going to be frank with you. These are quite time-consuming and take some advanced planning when you decide to make them. I made the dough, let it go through its first rise, then let it do its second rise in the refrigerator overnight. I then shaped, rose and baked the second day. You could also choose to shape the coffeecakes and then put them in the refrigerator overnight and bake in the morning. So there are a couple of different options to help you plan the recipe and get it to fit into your schedule. I recommend reading through the recipe at least once or twice to get your bearings and to figure out a plan of attack. The recipe itself is not hard at all, but you definitely want to plan this one out.

And boy will you be glad you did, because this coffeecake is worth every ounce of love you’ll put into it. The dough is much like that of a brioche – soft and buttery, but with a light airiness to it that makes it perfectly acceptable for breakfast and equally as delicious for dessert (think warm and topped with vanilla ice cream). While the recipe states that the streusel and icing are optional, I beg of you to use them. No coffeecake should prance around naked without streusel and icing; this cake deserves its streusel and icing.

Warning: If you have house guests and you serve this to them, they may never leave.

Yeasted Coffeecake

One year ago: Bananas Foster Bread Pudding

Rich Coffeecake with Sweet Cheese Filling

Yield: Makes 2 cakes, each serving 8 to 10

Prep Time: 12 hours

Cook Time: 25 to 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours


Rich Coffeecake Dough
2 envelopes (4½ teaspoons) instant yeast
¼ cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
½ cup (3½ ounces) granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4¼ cups (21¼ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces and softened but still cool

Sweet Cheese Filling
8 ounces cream cheese, softened but still cool
¼ cup (1¾ ounces) granulated sugar
2½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
2 teaspoons finely grated zest from 1 lemon
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Streusel Topping (optional)
1/3 cup packed (2-1/3 ounces) light or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
½ cup (2½ ounces) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

Coffeecake Icing (optional)
¾ cup (3 ounces) confectioners' sugar, sifted
3½ teaspoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Egg Wash
1 large egg
1 teaspoon heavy cream (preferably) or whole milk


1. For the Dough: Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in the bowl of a standing mixer; stir to dissolve. Add the sugar, eggs, milk, and vanilla; attach the paddle and mix at the lowest speed until well combined. Add 3¼ cups of the flour and the salt, mixing at low speed until the flour is incorporated, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium-low and add the butter pieces 1 at a time, beating until incorporated, about 20 seconds after each addition (total mixing time should be about 5 minutes). Replace the paddle with the dough hook and add the remaining 1 cup flour; knead at medium-low speed until soft and smooth, about 5 minutes longer. Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough tightens up slightly, about 2 minutes longer.

2. Scrape the dough (which will be too soft to pick up with your hands) into a straight-sided lightly oiled plastic container or bowl using a plastic dough scraper. Cover the container tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at warm room temperature until doubled in size, 3 to 4 hours. Press down the dough, replace the plastic, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 4 or up to 24 hours. Alternatively, for a quick chill, spread the dough about 1 inch thick on a baking sheet, cover with plastic, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours.

3. For the Filling: Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer at high speed until smooth, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the lemon zest, egg, and vanilla. Reduce the speed to medium and continue beating, scraping down the sides of the bowl at least once, until incorporated, about 1 minute. Scrape the mixture into a small bowl and chill thoroughly before using. (The filling can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 3 days.)

4. For the Streusel: Mix the brown and granulated sugars, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Add the butter and toss to coat. Pinch the butter chunks and dry mixture between your fingertips until the mixture is crumbly. Chill thoroughly before using. (The streusel can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.)

5. For the Icing: Whisk all the ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth. (The icing can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 week. Thin with a few drops of milk before using.)

6. When you are ready to shape the coffeecakes,remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, scraping the container sides with a rubber spatula if necessary. Divide the dough in half for 2 cakes.

6a. Working with a half recipe of cold dough at a time, shape the dough into a log about 8 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Using your outstretched hands, roll the log evenly into a 40-inch rope about 1 inch in diameter.

Yeasted Coffeecake Shaping, Step 1

Yeasted Coffeecake Shaping, Step 2

6b. With your fingers together, gently press the log to flatten slightly into a 1½-inch-wide strip.

Yeasted Coffeecake Shaping, Step 3

6c. Using both hands, twist the rope.

Yeasted Coffeecake Shaping, Step 4

6d. Loosely coil the rope in a spiral pattern, leaving a ¼-inch space between coils. Tuck the end under and pinch to secure. Place the coil on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Repeat with second half of dough.

Yeasted Coffeecake Shaping, Step 5

7. Proof until slightly puffed (they will not increase in volume as dramatically as a leaner bread dough), 1½ to 2 hours. (After this final rise, the unbaked cakes can be refrigerated overnight and baked the next morning.)

8. For the Egg Wash: Beat the egg and cream in a small bowl until combined.

9. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Working with and baking one coffeecake at a time, brush with egg wash evenly over the exposed dough. Place half of the filling over the center of the top, leaving a 1½-inch border around the perimeter. Sprinkle the top evenly with half of the streusel. Slide the baking sheet onto a second baking sheet to prevent the bottom crust from overbrowning and bake until deep golden brown and/or an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the cake reads 190 degrees F, 25 to 30 minutes. Slide the parchment with the coffeecake onto a wire rack and cool at least 20 minutes. Drizzle the cake with half the icing and serve.


51 Responses to “Rich Coffeecake with Sweet Cheese Filling”

  1. jennifer on March 2, 2010 at 2:11 am

    i agree!! no coffee cake should be without is streusel and icing! mmmmmm!!!


  2. jaclyn@todayslady on March 2, 2010 at 2:11 am

    I was in love with this when I first saw the picture, then I read the recipe and fell deeper in love when I read “Sweet Cheese Filling”. I’ve never baked with yeast because I’m afraid to. This brings me a little closer to trying though! It looks so good! I would probably have to donate the cakes too. Not because I would eat one to myself (lie) but to share the yummyness with others!!


  3. Eliana on March 2, 2010 at 6:15 am

    This looks like the perfect treat to have in the morning. Too bad I don’t have some right now. Simply irresistable.


  4. Jennifer Plank on March 2, 2010 at 6:58 am

    I really wish there were a way that you could just send us all a sample of your creations! They all look so wonderful and although I make many of them I could be just as satisfied with just a tasting. Beautiful bread. This may be a great one to make for Easter breakfast with the family.


  5. Katrina on March 2, 2010 at 7:33 am

    I just love this! The twisting makes it look really great. Yum!


  6. Meghan on March 2, 2010 at 8:34 am

    This is such a beautiful coffee cake! That’s a great idea to take the extra one as a donation to a bake sale!


  7. Jason Sandeman on March 2, 2010 at 8:43 am

    I love the cake. I also LOVE the pastry board. Where did you get it?


  8. Barbara Bakes on March 2, 2010 at 9:27 am

    What a gorgeous coffeecake! I’m bookmarking this one!


  9. Michelle on March 2, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Hi Jason,

    I got that pastry mat from Pampered Chef. I love it!


  10. Marilyn on March 2, 2010 at 10:17 am

    My first food blog was 101 Cookbooks. I’ve been visiting that site, among many others, ever since.

    j dot marilyn dot evans at gmail dot com


  11. Marilyn on March 2, 2010 at 10:18 am

    I am also a subscriber!
    j dot marilyn dot evans at gmail dot com


  12. Krystle on March 2, 2010 at 10:23 am

    I love the twisting pictures! looks delicious!


  13. Married to an Aussie in OK on March 2, 2010 at 10:34 am

    That *does* look gorgeous. And delicious.


  14. Liren on March 2, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Wow, that is certainly time consuming but it looks VERY worthy it! I am definitely going to try this when I have some time!


  15. Georgia on March 2, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Mmmm, paired with a cup of coffee, a bite of this would be a great way to start the morning! I might just make this for when my in-laws are visiting next week. Thanks for sharing the recipe!


  16. Bob on March 2, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Oh man, I love yeasted cakes. And yet I’ve never made one… It looks amazing though!


  17. Allison Raines on March 2, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    I’ll do anything to eat cake for breakfast! The coffeecake looks great…and thanks for the shaping pictorial, as I would have NO idea what I was doing!


  18. Anne Peretti on March 2, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    This coffeecake looks delicious, and I can’t wait to make it–I already have “homes” in mind for both cakes!


  19. grace on March 2, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    ‘no coffeecake should prance around naked without streusel and icing…’
    amen! this is an awesome creation. yes, it’s involved and time-consuming, but what a payoff!


  20. Jalanda on March 2, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    I can’t seem to find the step in the recipe where the cheese filling is added.

    I definitely want to make this for the weekend Ladies Get Away at Lake Louisa.

    Am I missing it?


  21. Michelle on March 2, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    Hi Jalanda,

    The cheese filling is actually spread on top of the coiled cake, and it slides down into the crevices of the coil. See step #9. Let me know if you have any other questions!

    Happy Baking! I’m sure you and the ladies will enjoy it!


  22. Jalanda on March 2, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    *Smacks forehead* I zoned out on the instructions when I read the directions to brush the eggwhite. I stopped mid-sentence and went back up, instead of reading further.

    Thank you!


  23. Courtney on March 2, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Oh my goodness.. I want this for breakfast!


  24. TIA @ ButtercreamBarbie on March 3, 2010 at 2:07 am

    i keep looking at this in my BI cookbook but it looks like SO much work!


  25. holly on March 3, 2010 at 2:37 am

    Gorgeous!! Looks so, so good! I would love to have you come by our blog as we are new on the food blogging scene:)


  26. Michelle on March 3, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Hi Tia,

    It is time-consuming, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s all that difficult or advanced. Most of the time is inactive, waiting for the dough to rise or chill. If you have any questions about any area of the recipe that you’re uncertain, don’t hesitate to email me! I hope you give it a shot – you can do it! 🙂


  27. Beef Recipes on March 4, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Wow! This is absolutely gorgeous and well made.


  28. Miranda on March 4, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Oh you amaze me…
    I love how you can make ordinary extraordinary!!


  29. Ashley on March 4, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Wow this looks seriously amazing – thanks for sharing!


  30. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction on March 5, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Wow… This cake looks fabulous! I need to break out of the bread habit when it comes to yeast… Thanks for the recipe idea!


  31. sucre en poudre on March 6, 2010 at 11:57 am

    It looks so great! ı will make it as soon as possible!


  32. Sally on March 6, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Have mercy! I must make this over spring break.


  33. AK on March 21, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    oh… my… god… i need to eat that now. i am a sucker for yeast-based coffee cakes more than anything else in the world. that looks so delicious. and it’s beautiful! one day when i work up the courage to play around with yeast, i will definitely make this. thanks for sharing!


  34. Megan on August 11, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    I came across your blog yesterday, and I found this recipe and new I had to make it. I made the dough yesterday, and baked it today….and it was AMAZING. My husband rated it a 10 out of 10. The recipe was time consuming but not difficult which I liked 🙂 Anyways, I will make it again probably to give away to friends and family at Christmas time. Totally delicious. Your blog is awesome to by the way.


  35. Bekki on November 29, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Two thumbs up from my co-workers this morning! With the long holiday weekend, thought I’d give this a try. I’ve never worked with yeast before, and the dough hooks to my 20 year old mixer were still taped together in their original plastic wrapping. It didn’t seem to rise as much as I thought it would; the yeast packet was still prior to its expiration date, but it had been in the refrigerator…maybe a reason it wasn’t as potent? I couldn’t get the twisting the dough thing going very well, and coiled it as best I could in a round ceramic dish (usually use it for quiche). It was pretty squished in there, so didn’t have the 1/4″ space between all the coils. Perhaps because using the dish, ended up needing about 35 minutes to bake. Definitely yummy. Thanks for a great site with all the photos. I found you when I googled “cookie photos” for a bake sale I was promoting, and came across your Steeler jersey cookies. I grew up in Pgh., and now live in WA State, and the Steelers remain MY team.


    • Michelle on November 29th, 2010 at 8:05 pm

      Bekki, What a small world! Glad to hear this was a big hit! If you want to have space between the coils, try baking it free-form on a baking sheet next time. You’ll have plenty of room. Go Steelers!


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  37. Bryan on April 2, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Great recipe, i think yeast coffeecakes are the best. I will definitely make this again.


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  42. Julie on January 12, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    Please help! I started preparing the dough as one would for bread (mix all dry ingredients together in one bowl, wet in another, then combine), rather than following the directions. Oops. My first rise never occurred. The dough looks a little puffy, but my kitchen tends to be cold. I have already refrigerated the dough after four hours of attempted proofing. Is my dough doomed? Please help!


    • Michelle on January 15th, 2013 at 6:04 pm

      Hi Julie, Unfortunately, mixing up the dough in a completely different method could definitely have unintended results, especially when working with yeast. If the dough has not risen at all, unfortunately I don’t think you have much choice but to start over. Make sure you’re using fresh yeast and follow the recipe as written. Good luck!


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  47. Julie on July 8, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    I would like to try this recipe but am I missing what to do with the sweet cream. Please help


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