Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake

I like to make a special breakfast on holiday mornings and this Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake is a family favorite for Christmas. Shaped like a candy cane (or sometimes a wreath), it makes a “wow” presentation and tastes amazing. I’ve also made this for a food gift on occasion.

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Although it may look a little complicated, this Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake is not super difficult to make. The dough is from our Easy Artisan Bread recipe which goes together very quickly and can be made ahead. This takes some of the stress out of creating a special breakfast on Christmas morning and leaves more time for enjoying the time together.

Start by making a batch of Easy Artisan Bread dough the night before. We use about 1/4 of the batch of dough for this coffee cake, so you might want to plan other uses for the rest of the dough. I use this dough for pizza, calzones, and bread on a fairly regular basis, so that large batch gets used up quickly. It lasts up to a week in the fridge, although tends to get more of a sourdough taste the longer it sits, so I wouldn’t recommend making a coffee cake with it on day 7. Coffee cake is definitely best for day 1-2, maybe 3. You could probably cut the recipe down for a smaller amount of dough, but I haven’t experimented with this for using in this coffee cake recipe.

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees and place a pan of water on the bottom rack. Pull the container of dough out of the fridge and sprinkle with some flour, just like when you make bread.

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Pull out a hunk (about 1/4) of dough. This doesn’t have to be exact, just estimate about 1/4 of the batch. Place it on a floured counter top and sprinkle with a little more flour.

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Roll a long oval/rounded rectangle that is about 10-12 inches wide and about 2 feet long. The thickness is approximately 1/4 inch. If the dough doesn’t like to roll nice and keeps shrinking back in, just let it set for a minute to relax, then roll again. I don’t know the science behind this, only know that it tends to work. 🙂 Do not struggle with perfection – a rough shape is fine (trust me it will still look pretty when you’re done.)

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In a bowl, mix 1 stick of butter, 1 cup flour, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, and 1 Tablespoon of cinnamon. Mash this with a fork or berry masher until it is all mushed together and crumbly. It will look a little like crumb topping.

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Spread this down the center of the dough.

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Make diagonal slices from the edge of the filling to the edge, down each side. I never count the number or measure the width of each strip. I would say they are roughly 1- 1/2 inches wide.

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Starting at the end, fold the end piece over. Then, fold a strip from one side, then the other, overlapping as you go. Continue all the way down to the end, then fold over the other end.

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Now, the tricky part! 🙂 Gently lift this onto a greased cookie sheet. Make sure the dough is free from the counter before trying to move it. Slide some extra flour underneath in spots if necessary.  I put the cookie sheet right up close and lift one side then the other and work quickly. Once it’s on the cookie sheet, I slide it into the candy cane shape. Don’t worry if some of the filling comes out – just tuck it back in.

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Place the coffee cake into the preheated oven and then turn the heat down to 400 degrees. We want the high heat of 450 to make the dough “pop” and rise, but then we turn it down so that the dough does not get too crispy and tough like we’d like for a loaf of artisan style bread. Bake this for about 35-40 minutes. It will get lightly browned and look simply delicious! 🙂

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This is delicious served warm – just let it cool a bit before serving so it’s not “burn your tongue” hot. To make it extra delicious and fancy, I like to add a sugar glaze that has a little almond extract. The almond along with the cinnamon and pecans is really a nice combination.

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Mix 1 cup of confectioners sugar with 1 tsp. almond extract, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, and about 3 tsp. milk. Add the milk 1 tsp. at a time and mix well each time until it gets the consistency somewhere between heavy cream and yogurt – it should drizzle but have some thickness to it. Otherwise it will just spill all over instead of sticking to the top and sides of the coffee cake. If you accidentally add too much milk, just add a little more sugar until you get the right mix.

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Drizzle the glaze in a back and forth pattern across the candy shape. Make sure to put it on your serving plate before drizzling because if this is warm, the glaze will melt a bit. Alternatively, you could serve it separately so that each person could drizzle the amount they want on their piece. (My kids would have the coffee cake floating in the glaze! 🙂 ) If you are making this as a gift, wait for the coffee cake to cool completely before drizzling on the glaze. For gifts, I place it on a cake board (most places that sell cake decorating supplies have these) and then wrap it loosely with foil once the glaze is dry.

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Hope your family enjoys this Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake as much as we do. My favorite part is the “wows” from everyone when I place it on the table. 🙂

Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake
Made in a candy cane shape for a neat Christmas presentation, this coffee cake is a delicious combination of pecan, sugar, and cinnamon, topped with an almond glaze.
  • 1 recipe Easy Artisan Bread (use ¼ of the dough per coffee cake)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup confectioners/10-x/powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp. milk
  1. Prepare a batch of Easy Artisan Bread dough the day or night before.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees and place a pan of water on the bottom rack.
  3. Take the dough out of the fridge and sprinkle with flour.
  4. Pull off ¼ piece of the dough and place on a floured counter.
  5. Sprinkle with additional flour and roll into a large oval, approx. 10-12 inches wide and 2 feet long.
  6. In a bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, pecans, butter, and cinnamon until crumbly.
  7. Spread this mixture down the center of the dough.
  8. Cut slits down each side from the filling to the edge, approximately 1 - 1½ inches wide.
  9. Starting at the end, fold the end piece of dough towards the center, then fold over the strips - one side, then the other, all the way to the end. Tuck the end piece towards the middle.
  10. Carefully place onto a greased cookie sheet and form into the shape of a candy cane.
  11. Place in the oven and turn the heat down to 400 degrees.
  12. Bake 35-40 minutes until lightly golden brown.
  13. Let cool a bit.
  14. Mix the glaze ingredients.
  15. Drizzle over the coffee cake.
  16. Serve!