Cakes,  Dessert,  New Skill

Coffee Cake Layer Cake with a White Chocolate Drip

Today I have an amazing, stunning, delicious coffee cake layer cake featuring a beautiful white chocolate ganache.  This drip cake is surprisingly easy to make, but will impress anyone who sees it. There are four main components to the coffee cake layer cake; a rich yellow cake, cinnamon cream cheese frosting, cinnamon- pecan streusel topping, and a white chocolate ganache drip.  

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Story Time

 

Recently, I joined the Sweet Arts Guild, created by Shani Christenson, and every month there will be a cake decorating challenge.  The goal is for cake bakers and decorators of all skill levels to push themselves to try a new technique and learn. For the first month, Shani challenged us to make a drip cake.  

Coffee Cake Layer Cake

 

Drip Cakes

 

I’ve never made a drip cake before this one, and it’s a skill I’ve been wanting to tackle, so I was super excited!  In fact, I put this on my list of “new baking skills” to tackle with Bakes & Blunders. Apparently not everyone knows what a drip cake is.  Since you’re here, I’m guessing you’ve got the idea, but let me cover our bases.  

 

 

A drip cake is one that is topped with a loose topping, generally ganache, but caramel works too.  This topping looks as though it has gently dripped down the edges of the cake. In reality, you strategically place the drips, and fill in the top of the cake to give the illusion of overflow.  

 

Coffee Cake Layer Cake Creation

 

My husband’s family was coming down to visit, so I knew I had the perfect opportunity to tackle this challenge!  I asked my father-in-law what I should make. His first two suggestions were Pineapple Upside Down Cake and coffee cake.  Hmmm. Those don’t work for a drip cake, but I did some thinking.

Coffee Cake Layer Cake

I ended up creating this Coffee Cake Layer Cake.  The cake is a rich, yellow vanilla cake from The New Best Recipe Cookbook, but I baked it in these adorable 6 inch cake pans that create 5 layers.  For the frosting, I used a half batch of the cream cheese frosting from the Kryptonite Cake, but added cinnamon.  

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Streusel topping is a key feature of coffee cakes.  I knew I would have to incorporate that as a delicious topping and in between the layers.  The key feature though, would be the white chocolate ganache drip. I’ve never made white chocolate ganache, so this was going to be an experience!  

Coffee Cake Layer Cake

 

Let’s Get Started!

 

Yellow Layer Cake

 

There were so many variables with this cake, I had to stick with a reliable source for my yellow cake, so you know I had to use a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen.  The method used to make this cake was one I hadn’t used before. This recipe uses the two stage method. Dry ingredients are mixed, butter is gradually beaten in, then the liquids are added in two stages.  

Yellow cake batter in Wilton 6 inch cake pans

The batter came together really quickly!  One thing I’d like to point out though, the batter looks kind of terrible.  The cookbook even mentions this, but it will look slightly curdled. Some cake batters look good enough to eat raw (don’t!), but I promise you, this one isn’t.  

I had about a cup of leftover batter from this recipe.  You’ve got a few options for this golden goodness.

  1. Make cake waffles like I did with my dark chocolate cupcake batter.
  2. If you have another 6 inch cake pan, add a 6th layer!  You’ll probably need to make a smidge more frosting though.
  3. Make cupcakes to freeze for later!  I don’t always use all of my frosting, so I can use extra to frost these cupcakes in the future.  My leftover batter made 4 cupcakes. Double wrap, bag, and freeze. Defrost completely before frosting.
Using leftover yellow cake batter to make cupcakes.
Don’t let extra batter go to waste!

 

Cinnamon- Pecan Streusel Topping

 

Normally you bake a streusel topping right on top of the coffee cake.  I was planning on icing this coffee cake layer cake, so I didn’t see that as an option.  Instead, I decided to make the streusel, but bake it like a giant cookie and break it up into chunks.  This topping would then be layered in between the cakes with the frosting, as well as sprinkled on top as a beautiful, tasty decoration (and to hide the mistakes if I messed up the drip, let’s be honest).

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Ben was such a great little helper with this step!  I baked this for 10 minutes, and I think that was okay.  The edges were a bit crispy, while the center was delightfully soft.  Personally I liked the different textures. Only thing is, this recipe makes just over two cups of crumbled topping and I used less than ¼ cup!  You could scale back on the amounts, but I’m not sure how that would affect bake times.

Cinnamon- pecan streusel topping

The leftover streusel is absolutely delicious!  I was nibbling on it straight up (it’s like granola with no nutritional benefits and a lot more sugar), but you can also sprinkle it on yogurt (tastes really good on key lime yogurt!), ice cream, pudding, cereal, and more.  Let me know how you use it up!

 

 

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

 

Cinnamon flavored frosting brought a key flavor component of coffee cake into my own coffee cake layer cake.  I ended up going with a cream cheese frosting because I think they’re tasty and I’ve seen some coffee cakes drizzled with a cream cheese glaze.  If you hate cream cheese frosting (why though?), just add the cinnamon to your favorite vanilla buttercream. It should work out well!

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe was adapted from my cream cheese frosting in the Kryptonite Cake recipe.  That recipe made an insane amount, so I cut it in half. Surprisingly, I used just shy of all of the cinnamon cream cheese frosting.  Five layers is a lot and means a lot of frosting.  You’ll be fine, just don’t go crazy with it because you need it all!  If you want to make sure you have enough frosting, you can always double the frosting recipe.  It will keep in the fridge in an air tight container for a week or two.

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White Chocolate Ganache

 

First of all, if ganache sounds intimidating, go read my tutorial all about it.  I feel confident with my regular dark chocolate ganache, but white chocolate?! Scared poopless.  Here’s the deal, white chocolate isn’t even chocolate. It’s cocoa butter and flavor (more or less, I’m not an encyclopedia, guys) which means it behaves differently.  Mainly, it needs a lot more “chocolate” to liquid ratio or it will never set. Oh, and fun fact, ganache can be made with any liquid.

White Chocolate Ganache

WHAT?!

 

Blew. Your. Mind.  So, I decided to make a water ganache just for kicks.  The flavor is the same, but it’s vegan and if you don’t have cream on hand, you probably can scrounge up some water.  Chris Spear from Perfect Little Bites even told me he’s made ganache with beer!  Cool!

Wait, wait, wait… I’m so far off track and this post is gettin’ long.  I used Wilton candy melts for this because white chocolate chips are designed not to melt, so it can be hard to get a smooth ganache.  Thanks goodness I watched Liz Marek’s amazing water ganache tutorial because I almost had a heart attack when I added the water and my chocolate looked like curdled milk.  Just pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds, stir, and repeat as necessary until smooth.

 

Assembling the Coffee Cake Layer Cake

 

This is the first time I used the Wilton 5 layer pan set, so I didn’t know what to think.  The edges of the pan are just slightly curved, so I trimmed the sides of my cakes off. Another reason to do this is to have softer, yummier sides for frosting and eating.  Place your first layer down, frost, sprinkle fine bits of streusel, and top with the next layer. Repeat. I always flip the top layer upside down so that it is beautifully flat.

Assembling the coffee cake layer cake.

Crumb coat the cake and let it chill for 15 minutes.  You can then apply the rest of the frosting (or to taste).  Is there any interest in a more in depth cake assembly tutorial?  Once completely frosted, chill for 30 minutes at least. After that time, you can make your ganache.  It will need to come down to 90- 95℉ before you can drip. This amazing infrared thermometer was a Christmas gift from my father-in-law this year!  It’s super handy and quick!

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To do the drip, use a piping bag or condiment bottle (got mine at the dollar store) to gently pour ganache over the edge of the cake.  You’ll want to start a little bit away from the edge, build up some ganache, and then it will flow down the side. Go around your cake alternating big and small drips.  Fill in the top of the cake, using a small offset spatula to spread it out evenly. Watch Liz’s tutorial at the end of her post for a great demo.

 

White chocolate ganache drip on a coffee cake layer cake

Once you’ve finished the drip, sprinkle with larger chunks of streusel topping!

 

 

The Verdict

 

This cake was a HUGE hit!  My father-in-law said I took what was in his head and made it into a cake.  Josh actually ate 4 slices (in 4 days) and chose it over his regular ice cream.  My dad said it would go great with a cup of coffee. Pretty much, I’d say this was an amazing success!

Coffee Cake Layer Cake

Thanks for hanging through that long post!  This coffee cake layer cake is sweet, dense, and moist.  You’ll love the spiced tang of the cream cheese frosting on top of a rich vanilla cake.  The chunks of streusel add bursts of flavor and texture throughout the layers. What will steal the show is the gorgeous white chocolate ganache drip.  You can create a stunning cake, even if your cake decorating skills are limited. You’ve got this!

Don’t forget to share this recipe with a friend!

Coffee Cake Layer Cake
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Coffee Cake Layer Cake

Yellow cake, sweet streusel, cinnamon frosting, and white chocolate come together to make a decadent coffee cake layer cake.
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Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Birthday, Brunch, Cake, Frosting
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Assembly Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 12 slices
Calories 461kcal
Author Colleen

Ingredients

Yellow Cake

  • 7 oz cake flour or 1 3/4 cups sifted
  • 4 eggs room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk room temperature
  • 2 tsps vanilla
  • 10 1/2 oz sugar or 1 1/2 cups
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 16 Tbsps unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces, soft, but still cool or 2 sticks

Cinnamon- Pecan Streusel Topping

  • 5 Tbsps unsalted butter soft
  • 3/4 cup all- purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese soft, but still cool
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar sifted
  • 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

White Chocolate Ganache

  • 6 oz white candy melts
  • 1.5 oz warm water

Instructions

Yellow Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 325℉.  Spray the cake pans lightly with Baker's Joy and set aside.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla.  Set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Mix the dry ingredients on the lowest setting until combined, about 30 seconds.
  • With the stand mixer still on the lowest speed, add the butter one piece at a time, waiting a few seconds between additions.  Mix until the butter and flour begin to clump together, about 30-40 seconds after the last piece of butter is added.
  • Add 1 cup of the egg mixture with the mixer on low and beat for 5- 10 seconds to incorporate.  Bump the speed up to medium- high and beat until light and fluffy, about a minute.
  • Add the remaining egg mixture in a slow, steady stream down the edge of the bowl.  If you hit the paddle, it will make a mess.  It should take about 30 seconds to add this remaining mixture.  
  • Stop the stand mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Beat again at medium- high speed for about 15 seconds to thoroughly combine.  The mixture will look slightly curdled.
  • Place 3/4 cup of the batter into each of the 5 cake pans.  Use an offset spatula to smooth out the batter.  Bake for 17- 20 minutes or until the cakes spring back when you touch them and pull away from the pan.
  • Cool in their pans for 5 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.  Make sure they are facing right side up.  Cool completely before frosting and assembly.  If the edges are too crunchy, or you just prefer a softer cake, use a serrated knife to trim the edges off of your cooled cake layers.

Cinnamon- Pecan Streusel Topping

  • Preheat oven to 350℉.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Combine the butter, flour, brown sugar, pecans, and cinnamon in a food processor.  Process until the mixture is well combined and it resembles wet sand.  Scrape the bowl down as needed.
  • Dump onto the prepared baking sheet.  Use your hands to pull it together and pat it into a big circle about 1/4 inch thick or even thinner.  
  • Bake for 8- 10 minutes.  Allow the streusel to cool for about 3 minutes before transferring the parchment paper to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  • Once cool, break the streusel into chunks, large and small pieces.  

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together for 3- 5 minutes.  It should be light and fluffy.
  • Add about half of the powdered sugar and all of the cinnamon.  Beat for 2- 3 minutes, starting on low and bumping up to medium.  Add the remaining sugar and vanilla.  Beat for another 2- 3 minutes, or until fluffy.  Taste and adjust flavor if you want.

White Chocolate Ganache

  • Begin making the ganache once your cake has been assembled and cooled.  The ganache will need to be used shortly after it is finished.
  • Warm up the candy melts in a double boiler or in the microwave (about 1 minute) until they begin to get melty.  Stir to help the white chocolate melt evenly.
  • Add the warm water and use a small whisk to combine.  The mixture will probably look like it has seized.  If it is lumpy and gross, microwave for 10 seconds and stir until smooth.  Repeat as necessary.
  • The ganache should be 90- 95℉ before you begin the drip.  An infrared thermometer works great for this, but any kitchen thermometer will do.  When the ganache is ready to be used, transfer to a decorating (condiment) bottle or a piping bag.

Cake Assembly

  • Use a small offset spatula to spread a small, thin circle of frosting onto a 6 inch cake board.  Place your first layer onto the board.  Spread a layer of frosting evenly on top, making sure it is level.  Sprinkle small pieces of streusel on top of the frosting.  Place the second layer on top.  
  • Repeat with remaining cake layers. For the last layer, place the cake upside down so that the flat bottom is now facing up.  Spread a layer of frosting on it, but do not add any streusel.
  • Crumb coat the sides of the cake and place it in the fridge to set for 15- 30 minutes.  
  • Smooth the remaining frosting over the cake, making sure to keep the top flat and even.  A bench or cake scraper will help give you clean edges.
  • Once you are satisfied with the frosting coverage, place the cake back in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Test a drip of the ganache on your cold cake to make sure it is at the right consistency.  Starting a little bit back from the cake edge, build a small amount of ganache up, letting it drip down the edge of the cake.  You want the drip to glide down the cake smoothly, and set up before it pools at the bottom.  The cold cake helps set the warm ganache quickly.
  • Working your way around the cake, alternate big and small drips.  Fill in the top of the cake with the ganache, using your offset spatula to smooth.  Some ganache will probably drip down the edges with your previous drips, but make sure not too much goes over the sides.
  • Sprinkle larger pieces of streusel over the ganache while it is still tacky.  Place in the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes.
  • Before serving, it is best to let it sit at room temperature for 30- 45 minutes.  Slice and enjoy!  It goes great with a cup of coffee.

Notes

  • There will be extra batter.  If you have a 6th cake pan, you could make another layer (you'd need more frosting), you can make cake waffles, or you can make about 4 cupcakes.  Double wrap, bag and place in the freezer to use with leftover frosting down the road.
  • If you don't have this cake pan set, bake in two 9 inch cake pans for 20 -25 minutes at 350℉.

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Coffee Cake Layer Cake with a white chocolate ganache drip

 

Hi there! I’m Colleen, a novice baker with a passion for learning and improving my bakes… and blunders. On Bakes and Blunders, you can find all sorts of tasty recipes that range in difficulty, but most importantly, I’ll try to explain the reason behind important steps. If you know why a recipe works, you can tweak and adapt it to suit your unique tastes, and you’ll be able to reliably produce some very delicious treats. If you love baking and want to expand and grow your skills, or if you are a casual baker and just need some pointers, my blog is right up your alley! Join me on my baking journey and we’ll learn how to make more impressive recipes together.

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