brown sugar | cakes | cheese | cherry | cream cheese | desserts | Indy | recipe | streusel

Cherry “surprise” coffee cake (the surprise is cream cheese!).

April 23, 2014

Indy, my baking buddy.

Indy and I are best buds. When Jay leaves for work at night, it’s just us. We watch TV, cook (okay, I cook), read, or cuddle in bed, sometimes blogging. He usually naps during those activities. However when I get up he follows me around relentlessly. Even waiting outside the bathroom for me. I call him my shadow. My 100-lb. shadow… & bodyguard.

Consequently, Indy is also my baking buddy.

He sits (quite adorably) on the rug in front of the sink as I mix & whisk & scoop. He leans his right side against the cabinets, hind legs off to the left side, his head turned & nose just barely reaching right over the counter, sniffing to see what exactly it is I’m doing today. I talk to him as I recite the recipes, or experiment with ingredients. Sometimes he looks up at me intently, as if he’s genuinely listening; or more so, actually absorbing what I’m saying. Other times he lays down on that rug ignoring me, but ever so close to me at the same time. Usually with a paw just touching my foot. And then once it’s in the oven he scoots forward to see. And again, as I move from room to room or from sink to dishwasher he follows me, tail wagging, possibly in hopes that whenever whatever it is I baked comes out of the oven, I have sympathy – or empathy- and ultimately give him a slice.

It hasn’t happened yet.

But even as I take my photos, he tries. Respectfully.

Cherry surprise coffee cake; the surprise is a cream cheese filling floating throughout.

Always respectfully. He never pulls anything off the table or eats it without permission. He’s a true gentleman. And of course, aside from being a stellar example of canine restraint, he was well trained by his momma & poppa.

Cherry "surprise" coffee cake (the surprise? Cream cheese!)

I don’t blame him for trying. There’s a lot of good stuff coming out of my kitchen all the time! A man has to try, has to give it his best shot, even if he knows he’ll be shot down.

Cherry coffee cakes are not for dogs, though, Indy. I’m sorry.

Delightfully easy coffee cake with cherries & a surprise: cream cheese.

It is however for humans.

And it can be made with either homemade or canned cherry pie filling. If you have some canned from last cherry season, then use it! If you have some frozen cherries, then make some. If not… go buy some cherry pie filling. No guilt trips here! There are PLENTY of good, quality, even organic canned pie fillings out there (some you can even buy on Amazon).

You could also use fresh (or frozen) pitted cherries, if you like. I prefer the “liquidy” look of the pie filling, but it’s up to your aesthetic.

The surprise? The cream cheese swirled in the top. Once baked, you can’t see it very well. But you’ll taste it right away.

Delicious coffee cake with cherries & a cream cheese surprise spun through it.

This recipe could also be made using blueberries, raspberries or strawberries. Or any pie filling of the aforementioned fruits. I’m sure even peaches would make a delicious cake!

With some tweaking it would be perfect for the fall- use apples and add some cinnamon & nutmeg into the streusel.

Surprise! Cherry coffee cake.. the surprise? Cream cheese.



  • 1 cup cherry pie filling or fresh pitted cherries, sliced in half
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold, diced
Cream cheese filling:
  • 5 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F and spray a baking dish with non-stick spray or PAM. You can use either an 8″ x 8″ baking dish or a 10″ x 6″ as I did.
  2. Beat together the cream cheese & sugar to make your filling in a small bowl until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Combine the flour, two types of sugar, and cold butter in a small bowl using a pastry cutter or two knives. You want it to resemble bread crumbs. Set aside.
  4. Cream the butter & sugar to make your cake. In a separate bowl, mix the salt, flour & baking powder with a whisk. Add the egg to the creamed butter and beat to combine, then add the vanilla & almond extracts. Add the flour mixture to it in three increments, alternating with the milk. Spoon batter evenly into pan.
  5. Drop the cream cheese mixture on top of the batter with a spoon, swirling it into the batter just a little bit when finished. Using the same spoon, drop the cherry pie filling on top, swirling it in just the same.
  6. Sprinkle with streusel and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until it’s browned & bubbling & a toothpick inserted in the cake part comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a rack in the pan. Serve room temperature.

Cherry cream cheese coffee cake.

I’d say to serve it with whipped cream or ice cream, but it doesn’t really need any fancy additions. It’s pretty stellar on it’s own.

And the best part of all this? Even if he never gets a slice of coffee cake, Indy will still sit on that kitchen rug, and he’ll still be my (big)little buddy slash protector. I feel sorry for anyone who tries to test that theory. *wink*

Indy in the kitchen.

SOUNDTRACK: Smashing Pumpkins – “Today”
Sources & credits: Clear Pyrex 231 baking dish; vintage from Grandma Dotty, teapots & teacups tea towel; Ikea, Indy; from North Shore Animal League (one of a kind I’m afraid!).
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  1. This coffeecake sounds SO good! I almost never bake with cream cheese (there may be someone in the house who hates it…) but I just may have to make an exception (and eat the whole thing myself). 🙂

  2. That looks SO good! I love how you included almond extract as well as vanilla. Will be trying this (gluten free, of course!).

  3. That coffeecake looks amazing! Cherries are a favorite, so I’ll be making this soon. You’ve done a lot better job training Indy than I have with Bonnee. She makes you think she’s just a beggar, but leave the room and she will find a way to taste anything that’s too close to the edge of the counter.

  4. Thanks ladies! Enjoy your cakes!

    Yoyo- he is pretty cute huh 😉

    Jamie- send me any changes you make to the recipe I’d love to see them & maybe edit the post with them!

    Sheri- he’s not as good as he used to be… Jay’s grandma used to feed him from the table when she ate her breakfast so he got a bit spoiled. But we’re breaking him of that, haha. He used to have no interest whatsoever in human food if you can believe it!

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