Birthday cake coffee cake

This birthday cake coffee cake is King Arthur Baking’s 2023 Recipe of the Year. It’s easy to see why, since the cake is light and fluffy like a birthday cake, and it contains a layer of chocolate ribbon and is topped with a generous helping of rainbow streusel crumbs.

birthday cake coffee cake

One of the very few things I look forward to receiving in the mail, other than a letter from my pen pal (and YES, I am serious about that) is the King Arthur Baking catalog. Let’s be honest – I very rarely buy things from them (when I do, it’s a treat), but I do enjoy browsing through their recipes.

The latest issue I received featured a photo of their birthday cake coffee cake on one of the front pages. Naturally, my family and I oohed and ahhed when we saw it.

birthday cake coffee cake

Obviously, I was asked… no BEGGED… to make this. Although I had just baked a whole bunch of things for the weekend, I happily made this too. It seemed pretty easy to assemble and those dang sprinkles were just calling out to me. A little over an hour later, we had this beautiful birthday cake coffee cake ready to taste.

birthday cake coffee cake

Honestly, the first bite as a bit underwhelming. The cake felt somewhat dry and wasn’t as good a I was hoping. However, the cake tasted better the following day, and my husband and daughter both agreed. Because I upped the almond flavor, our coffee cake tasted like a nice, expensive white cake from a bakery. And who can resist those rainbow sprinkles, in both the cake and the streusel topping? Not I!

This was a really fun cake to bake and to eat. It would definitely make for a fun celebration dessert. Or, if you want to brighten up your morning coffee with something, this is it.

Husband’s rating: 4 out of 5
Addie’s rating: 4.5 out of 5
My rating: 4 out of 5

Birthday cake coffee cake

This coffee cake will remind you of a (good) birthday cake. It is light and fluffy and contains oodles of sprinkles, a chocolate ribbon layer, and it's topped with rainbow sprinkle streusel!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time50 minutes
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Breakfast, Cake
Servings: 16
Author: Eva Bakes


Chocolate ribbon layer

  • cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (11 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder

Rainbow streusel (crumb topping)

  • 1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 6 Tablespoons (75 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (14 grams) powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter room temperature and cut into slices
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup (40 grams) rainbow sprinkles


  • 2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup (140 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 Tablespoons (113 grams or ½ cup or 1 stick) unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 and ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract I bumped this up to 1 teaspoon
  • large eggs
  • 1 cup (227 grams) buttermilk I made my own and added 1 teaspoon of white vinegar to 1 cup of milk and let it stand for about 2 minutes
  • 3 Tablespoons (30 grams) rainbow sprinkles

Glaze (optional)

  • ¾ cup (85 grams) powdered sugar
  • 2-3 Tablespoons water


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease and line a standard 8"x8" square baking pan and set aside.

Make the chocolate ribbon mixture

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cocoa powder and set aside.

Make the rainbow streusel

  • In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, and salt. Using a pastry blender, two forks or your hands, cut in the butter and the vanilla. Keep mixing until your mixture resembles wet sand. You will have some large crumbs and some the size of peas. Set aside.

Make the cake

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking powder BY HAND (or else your dry ingredients will fly everywhere once you turn on the mixer!).
  • Add the butter and turn the mixer on and off quickly to incorporate the butter. Keep this at a low speed or else your kitchen will have flour everywhere.
  • After the butter looks like it has been somewhat mixed with the dry ingredients (and there is a smaller likelihood of your ingredients exploding), turn the mixer to low and mix well, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the eggs and extracts until no dry streaks remain. Your batter will be thick.
  • Keep the mixer on low speed and VERY SLOWLY stream in the buttermilk. Do not turn this up or else buttermilk will splatter all over you and the kitchen. Keep mixing, then increase the speed to medium and mix until your batter is smooth.
  • Turn the mixer off and gently fold the sprinkles in.

Assemble the coffee cake

  • Transfer about half of your batter into your prepared baking pan. Smooth out the top.
  • Add the chocolate ribbon mixture on top and spread as evenly as you can.
  • Add the remaining batter on top, again, trying to spread the batter as evenly as possible. Try to cover all of the chocolate ribbon filling.
  • Sprinkle on the rainbow streusel crumbs evenly. Gently press down on the crumbs.
  • Bake in your preheated oven for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean and top is a light golden color.
  • Allow the cake to cool before adding the glaze.

Make the glaze

  • In a measuring cup or a small bowl, mix everything together (start with a little bit of water and add more if needed). Drizzle this on top of your cooled cake.
  • Allow the glaze to set before slicing and serving.


Leftover cake should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature and will last several days.
Source: King Arthur Baking


  1. Wynne
    February 7, 2023 / 9:16 am

    That is so pretty! I can see how you were enticed into making it. I’m a fan of more almond extract, too, especially as a secret ingredient.

    • evabakes
      February 8, 2023 / 9:46 am

      I loooove almond extract and think it needs to be used in more recipes!

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