Looking for a delicious, sweet treat to enjoy with a cup of coffee? Coffee cake can be the perfect answer. But does coffee cake have caffeine? And for that matter, does it even contain coffee?
In fact, what better treat to enjoy coffee than with coffee cake? I mean, coffee is right there in the name. But what if you like your Java decaf? Can you still have coffee cake without getting a caffeine boost?
The answer is yes. Most coffee cake does not have caffeine, because it does not contain any coffee at all. The name refers to a type of cake that’s simply meant to be eaten with coffee — or tea.
That said, some coffee cake recipes can include coffee or espresso. Below, I break down which kinds are more likely to contain coffee ingredients. And I reveal whether those that do have any measurable caffeine content.
What is coffee cake?
Contrary to its name, classic coffee cake does not contain coffee. This single layer cake is believed to have originated in the 17th century from German crumb cake. It was served with coffee during traditional Kaffeeklatches, or coffee gatherings.
These get-togethers were common in Germany, Scandinavia, and the Netherlands at the time. The cake was then brought to the United States by immigrants from those nations.
Traditional coffee cakes are typically square in shape and consist of a soft, tender cake topped with a crunchy cinnamon streusel. It’s the perfect complement to coffee at breakfast or brunch. And it makes for a great afternoon snack!
What’s in coffee cake?
Classic coffee cake recipes contain pantry staples that are easy to find at your local grocery store, including:
- Brown sugar
- Granulated sugar
- All purpose flour
- Baking Powder
- Baking Powder
- Vanilla extract
The brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter are used to make the crunchy streusel topping. And the other ingredients, along with more flour, butter, and sugar, are used to make the cake itself.
Some may include a variety of other ingredients and additional spices to add flavor and texture.
A typical homemade coffee cake recipe will only take about an hour from start to finish.
Does some coffee cake include coffee?
While American coffee cakes do not typically contain coffee, British coffee cake usually does.
This type of sponge cake is generally round, and has two layers, with thick buttercream frosting on each cake layer. Many recipes call for a small amount of regular instant coffee dissolved in hot water — which is added to both the cake mix and the frosting to add a bit of coffee flavoring.
And some classic American recipes will add a bit of coffee or espresso powder to give it a coffee taste.
So, does coffee cake have caffeine?
If you’re eating a classic American slice of coffee cake, then it shouldn’t contain caffeine as it won’t have any coffee in the recipe.
On the other hand, many British coffee cake recipes do have some, but in most cases it’s from a small amount of coffee, around 2-4 tablespoons. That works out to about 10-20 milligrams of caffeine in the whole cake.
To put that in perspective, a 12-ounce cup of instant coffee has about 100 mg of caffeine, or about 5 to 10 times as much caffeine as you’d typically find in a British coffee cake.
You could always swap decaffeinated coffee for regular. It’s a great way to still get a coffee taste without the caffeine
If your recipe also calls for things like espresso powder, cocoa powder, or chocolate chips, then it will contain some amount of caffeine, as those all have caffeine in them.
Does caffeine cook off?
Unlike alcohol which will burn off during cooking, caffeine does not do the same during cooking or baking. So if your coffee cake recipe includes coffee or other caffeine-containing ingredients, that caffeine will remain in the finished product.
You can store coffee cake at room temperature for up to 3 days in an airtight container. While you do not need to refrigerate this snack cake, that can increase its shelf life. But even in a sealed container, it can dry out in the fridge, so it’s a good idea to enjoy coffee cake while it’s fresh.
The best time to eat coffee cake is when it’s warm or at room temperature. If it’s not fresh out of the oven, you can quickly warm up a slice of cake by microwaving it for about 15 seconds.
Yes, to freeze coffee cake, first let it cool completely. Then cut it into slices and wrap in plastic wrap. Finally, put them in a sealed, airtight container before placing into the freezer.
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