Melted Butter Is The Key To Moist Coffee Cake

You don't have to love coffee to be gaga for coffee cake. This treat contains no coffee. It earned its name because the sweet cake perfectly accompanies a cup of joe — or tea, cold milk, or any favorite drink. A classic coffee cake consists of swirls or layers of cinnamon, a crumbly streusel topping, and a rich, moist cake base. And we've learned the secret to creating the moistest version ever: melted butter.

While using butter in a cake is not exactly a secret, what's unique here is the step of melting the butter before stirring it together with the rest of the cake batter ingredients. In cake recipes where the goal is to achieve a light and fluffy texture, softened butter is creamed with sugar to create pockets of air that lift the cake during baking. By contrast, melted butter soaks into the flour and sugar, creating a dense, moist cake. That's exactly the kind of indulgent texture that makes for a really good coffee cake. 

Using melted butter in coffee cake saves time, too

The concept of a more moist and delicious coffee cake should be reason enough to try this technique, but there's yet another benefit to using melted butter in this recipe. It's easier! In standard coffee cake recipes, softened butter and sugar must be creamed for several minutes using an electric mixer. Then, other ingredients are added slowly and beaten together to create pockets of air. And yet, maddeningly — because cakes are meant to have a tender crumb — bakers must also be careful not to overmix the batter. 

Melted butter, on the other hand, can be stirred into the other ingredients by hand. Air pockets are not the goal, so the lengthy creaming step is omitted. Warm, liquid butter quickly moistens the sugar and flour and blends easily with the eggs and other ingredients. Also, stirring the batter by hand almost guarantees that the batter will not be overmixed.

Ready to try it at home? Use the same amount of butter called for in your coffee cake recipe, except gently melted and allowed to cool to room temperature. Stir it by hand with the sugar, eggs, and liquid ingredients, then fold in the flour and dry ingredients to make a smooth batter. Then, put the batter together with the other elements of your recipe, like a ribbon of cinnamon sugar and streusel topping. Bake and enjoy your super-moist, melted butter coffee cake.