Irish Coffee Cake

Amy Manes
by Amy Manes
1 9-inch cake
1 hr 30 min

I hope you all like coffee, because here comes another coffee treat for you! This Irish coffee cake with whiskey spiked streusel is just what you need for breakfast during the cold and chilly winter months! It is loaded with espresso powder, brown sugar and a crumbly whiskey streusel. It makes the perfect breakfast, snack, or afternoon treat that you are going to want to make over and over this season. It is even the perfect festive breakfast for St. Patricks’ Day! This coffee cake will take you all the way through the winter months into spring. It’s cozy, festive, and delicious!

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Normally, I am not a huge fan of springtime. It’s typically very windy here in Colorado and it can be 75 degrees and sunny one minute and blizzarding the next! But this year, I’m really looking forward to some warmer weather and the anticipation of summer!

When St. Patrick’s Day rolls around, I know that we are getting close. While I don’t particularly find St. Patrick’s Day that exciting, I know that warmer weather, camping, traveling and much more are right around the corner!

St. Patrick’s Day is a great excuse to make a fun dessert to celebrate! If you’re feeling festive but don’t want anything green (because really – what about green food sounds appealing?!), then check out this Irish Coffee Cake!

How to Make Irish Coffee Cake

I know that this recipe says that it is “Irish” coffee cake, but you don’t necessarily need to go out and buy Irish whiskey. But shhhhh… Don’t tell anyone!

Feel free to use any kind of whiskey you prefer! And if you don’t want to use any alcohol, I would suggest substituting in some Irish coffee creamer. Yum!

I would also recommend first making the whiskey spiked streusel. The great thing about this is that you can make it and then refrigerate until you are ready to use! The rest of the coffee cake comes together very quickly after that.

Here are some helpful tools and ingredients to have handy for this St. Patrick’s Day breakfast treat:

High Altitude Adjustments for Coffee Cake

For reference, I live at 5,800 feet. These adjustments would likely give you the result that you are looking for if you live within a few hundred feet of where I am at. But high altitude baking can be a lot of trial and error! I’ll provide my explanations below for each adjustment I made. This should then give you a starting point to go off of to experiment with your own ingredients at whatever elevation you live at! I would also recommend checking out this guide here.

  • Granulated Sugar – decrease by 1 tbsp. This should hold true at most high elevations. Always decrease your sugars by 1 tbsp. per cup.
  • Eggs – use 3 instead of 2. This will keep the baked good from drying out at a higher baking temperature and evaporation rate. If I am baking a cake or cupcakes, I like to add one more egg to increase the liquids in the recipe. This should hold true at most higher elevations, but experiment with it, of course!
  • Flour – increase by 1 tbsp. Additional flour helps to strengthen the structure of the baked good so that it will rise correctly. At 3,500 feet, add 1 more tbsp. of flour per recipe. For each additional 1,500 feet, add one more tablespoon.
  • Baking Soda – decrease to 1/4 tsp. You can see this table on King Arthur’s website for how to adjust leavening agents for higher elevations (scroll down a ways to the “Leavening” section on their site). For my elevation, I typically cut all leavening agents in half. This allows for the right chemical reactions to happen between the other ingredients for the perfect rise. If there is too much leavening within the batter, not all of it gets used up (not all of it reacts with the other ingredients), so you are left over with a soapy bitter-tasting baked good due to the excess baking soda or baking powder in the batter.
  • Baking Powder – decrease to 3/4 tsp. Same reasoning as for baking soda.
  • Increase oven temperature to 360° F. Since rising and evaporation proceed more quickly at higher elevations, you will want to use a higher baking temperature to set the structure of the baked goods so that they don’t sink in the middle and dry out on the edges. I recommend starting with increasing the baking temperature stated in the recipe by 15° F and go up from there in small increments (all the way up to 25° F increase if needed).
  • Decrease baking time by 5 or more minutes. This is because you will be baking at a higher temperature. You don’t want your cake to burn! I usually decrease by 5-8 minutes per 30 minutes of baking time and adjust from there. Keep a close eye on your dessert in the oven while you are experimenting with time and baking temps.

If you have specific questions on high altitude adjustments, feel free to contact me and we can work them out!

I hope that you enjoy making this coffee cake for St. Patrick’s Day! If you are looking for another festive recipe, try my Coffee Stout Brownies or Funfetti Blondies with Rainbow Sprinkles!

As always, be sure to tag me in your photos on Instagram if you make my recipe or use in your photos! I love to see what you are baking.

Recipe details
  • 1  9-inch cake
  • Prep time: 45 Minutes Cook time: 45 Minutes Total time: 1 hr 30 min
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For the Whiskey Spiked Streusel
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp espresso powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp cold unsalted butter (cubed)
  • 1 tbsp whiskey (you can use Irish whiskey or whatever you have on hand).
For the Irish Coffee Cake
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cups whole buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup Irish whiskey (you can use Irish whiskey or whatever you have on hand).
  • 3 tbsp espresso powder (divided)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Whiskey Spiked Streusel
In the bowl of a food processor, place the flour, brown sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon and salt. Pulse until combined. Add the cold cubed butter and whiskey. Pulse until pea-sized clumps of streusel form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Irish Coffee Cake
For high altitude adjustments, please see the instructions in the "Notes" section below!
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper, letting the excess hang off of the sides of the pan. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs one at a time and beat after each addition.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, whiskey, 2 tbsp. of the espresso powder and vanilla extract until the espresso powder is dissolved.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk mixture. Begin and end with the flour mixture. Beat until just combined, but do not overmix.
Spoon half of the batter into the prepared baking pan and top with half of the whiskey spiked streusel and remaining 1 tbsp. of espresso powder. Top with the remaining batter and spread very carefully with a knife or offset spatula. Cover the top of the batter with the remaining half of the whiskey streusel (squeeze the streusel together to form larger clumps as you sprinkle on top of the batter).
Bake for 45 minutes until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let coffee cake cool in the pan on a wire rack. Slice and enjoy!
  • Coffee cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days
  • This recipe calls for Irish whiskey, but feel free to use whatever you prefer!
  • High Altitude Adjustments:
  • Decrease granulated sugar by 1 tbsp.
  • Use 3 eggs instead of 2
  • Increase flour by 1 tbsp.
  • Decrease baking powder to ¾ tsp
  • Decrease baking soda to ¼ tsp
  • Increase baking temperature to 360°F
  • Decrease baking time by 5 minutes
  • Recipe adapted from Bake from Scratch
Amy Manes
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