coffee cake muffin cut in half with a ribbon of cinnamon sugar baked in with crumb topping on metal muffin pan

Coffee cake muffins have a ribbon of cinnamon sugar baked into them and a bakery style brown sugar crumb topping. These moist cinnamon muffins are ready in 35 minutes! Includes notes on troubleshooting the crumb topping and how to make gluten free coffee cake muffins.

I thought this recipe was going to crush my spirit 😂

I take recipe testing seriously.. that’s why it took 9 tries to get the best coffee cake muffins. Plus, I have picky standards. The cake portion of the muffin needed to be moist, sweet and have good crumb. The cinnamon sugar layer needs to be pronounced enough that you can SEE and TASTE it! And the crumb topping needed to stick to the muffins, not melt, and be crunchy but sweet. 

Plus the size of the crumb topping needed to be spot on. It can’t be too small or too big. 

I shared my successes and frustrations throughout the process on instagram stories. You guys were just as invested as I was!! 

two coffee cake muffins with crumb topping stacked on top of each other on wood background

I walked away from this recipe feeling like a crumb topping expert. Let’s discuss some of the things I discovered.

Granulated Sugar Vs. Brown Sugar for Crumb Topping 

Using granulated sugar in crumb topping will produce a paler and crunchier crumb topping because it lacks the rich brown color of brown sugar and the extra moisture that brown sugar has. Hear me, crumb topping with granulated sugar is not bad. It’s great and lots of recipes turn out awesome using it! 

I discovered that I personally liked using brown sugar in my crumb topping because I was looking for a color definition between the muffin and the crumb. Brown sugar based crumb topping will turn out richer in color. Dark brown sugar based crumb topping will be even darker in color. Brown sugar crumb topping holds it shape well without being too crunchy, like granulated sugar crumb topping can be. 

There’s no right or wrong sugar to use, it just depends on personal preference. 

coffee cake muffins with brown sugar crumb topping in metal muffin pan
six coffee cake muffins in metal muffin pan on wood background

Troubleshooting Crumb Topping

  • The amount of butter in crumb topping is important. 
  • Too much butter will result in a crump topping that melts and spreads during the baking process.
  • Too little butter will result in a dry and “flour-y” crumb. 
  • The amount of flour in crumb topping is important.
  • Too much flour causes the crumb to be dry and overly crumbly. 
  • Too little flour causes the crumb topping to not have enough stability and structure. 
how to assemble coffee cake muffins collage with text overlay

How to Create Bakery Style Muffin Tops

Bakery style muffins are known for their domed tops. Plus who doesn’t love them? I used my favorite technique to help “lift” these muffins so they would have domed tops.

1. BAKE AT HIGH TEMPERATURE INITIALLY

Bake the muffins at a high temperature (425ºF) for 7 minutes then lower to 350ºF. Starting the muffins off at a higher temperature causes the batter to rise rapidly, producing a domed shaped.

2. Pile on the crumb

Be sure to only fill the muffin tins 1/2 to 3/4 full with batter. You need space in the muffin tins for the crumb. The more crumb you pile on, the more crumb the muffin will have. I pile on the crumb and lightly press it into the muffin batter. 

3. Push the crumb back on

After those initial 7 minutes, remove the muffins from the oven and quickly press the crumb topping back into the batter. You’ll notice that some of the crumbs are falling off the sides. The goal here is to get those crumbs back on the muffins while the batter is still wet. Return the muffins to the oven, bake for 1 more minute at 425ºF then drop the temperature to 350ºF for 11-15 minutes. 

coffee cake muffin cut in half with a ribbon of cinnamon sugar baked in with crumb topping on white plate

How to Make Gluten Free Coffee Cake Muffins

I’ve made these muffins with both regular and gluten free flour with awesome results on multiple occasions. I recommend King Arthur’s Gluten Free Measure for Measure Flour. Use it as a one for one substitute for regular flour.

Total Time Required

  • 15 minutes to prep the batter, cinnamon layer and crumb topping
  • Bake for 7 minutes at 425ºF
  • Bake for 11-15 minutes at 350ºF
  • 10 minutes to cool

Tips for Making Coffee Cake Muffins

  • Measure the flour using the spoon and level method.
  • Use baking powder, do not swap for baking soda.
  • Fill the muffin tins 1/2 to 3/4 full with batter. You need space in the muffin tins for the crumb. 
  • Pile on the crumb, pressing it lightly into the batter. 
  • Crumb size matters, be careful to not have too small or too large or clumps. 
  • Bake at a higher temperature initially (for 7 minutes) to cause the muffins to rise quickly.
  • After those initial 7 minutes, remove the muffins from the oven and quickly press the crumb topping back into the batter. You’ll notice that some of the crumbs are falling off the sides. The goal here is to get those crumbs back on the muffins while the batter is still wet.
coffee cake muffin with crumb topping on white plate on wood background

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Coffee Cake Muffins

Coffee Cake Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 37 minutes

Coffee cake muffins have a ribbon of cinnamon sugar baked into them and a bakery style brown sugar crumb topping. These moist cinnamon muffins are ready in 35 minutes!

Ingredients

Muffins

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted & cooled for 5 minutes
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cinnamon Sugar Layer

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Crumb Topping

  • 1 & 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted

Glaze (optional)

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp milk

Instructions

  1. Prepare the crumb topping. In a mixing bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and melted butter. Use a spatula to mix the crumb. The mixture will be thick and you must stir well (elbow grease!) to combine all the dry ingredients. Continue to combine until the mixture looks wet. It’s okay if the mixture is “sandy” in texture. Use your hands to squeeze clumps together, forcing the mixture together. Set the crumb aside.
  2. In a small bowl combine the sugar and cinnamon used for the cinnamon sugar layer. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir together and set aside.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. In a large mixing bowl combine the eggs, milk, vegetable oil, cooled melted butter, and vanilla extract. Combine using a whisk or fork. Gently pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir by hand with a spatula just until the batter is combined. 
  5. Line a muffin pan with 12 paper liners. Use a cookie scoop to add ONE small scoop of batter into each liner. Use a spatula to spread the batter to the edges of the liner.
  6. Evenly sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture among all the muffins, putting a little over 1 tsp of the mixture in each muffin. 
  7. Evenly divide the remaining batter among the muffins, making sure to only fill the liners 3/4 full at the max. Use a spatula to spread the batter to the edges of the liner, fully enclosing the cinnamon sugar layer in a batter sandwich. 
  8. Begin to generously pile the crumb topping on each muffin. I found it easiest to squeeze some of the crumb in my hands, forming a ball, then break off smaller pieces, lightly pressing the crumb into the batter. Ideally you want substantial pieces of crumb. 
  9. Bake at 425ºF for 7 minutes, then after those initial 7 minutes, remove the muffins from the oven and quickly press the crumb topping back into the batter. You’ll notice that some of the crumbs are falling off the sides. The goal here is to get those crumbs back on the muffins while the batter is still wet.
  10. Return the muffins to the oven, bake for 1 more minute at 425ºF then drop the temperature to 350ºF for 11-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.

Glaze (optional)

  1. In a small mixing bowl combine the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk. If the glaze is too thin, add more powered sugar 1-2 teaspoons at a time. Drizzle over the muffins.

Notes

  • Measure the flour using the spoon and level method.
  • I’ve made these muffins with both regular and gluten free flour with awesome results on multiple occasions. I recommend King Arthur’s Gluten Free Measure for Measure Flour. Use it as a one for one substitute for regular flour.