Apple Cider Doughnut Cake Recipe

The 2.0 version of apple cider doughnuts, no deep frying required.

Overhead view of a whole Apple Cider Dough Cake

Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

Why It Works

  • A Granny Smith apple is cooked in apple cider and then reduced to concentrate the apple flavor. 
  • Mace and nutmeg add that unmistakable apple cider doughnut flavor to the cake, while cinnamon is reserved for the cinnamon-sugar coating after it's baked.

With the end of summer comes the switch from pink and yellow peaches and garnet plums to apples in all their speckled and mottled varieties—gold and grassy green, blush pink and siren red lipstick. The wooden crates at the market stalls are overflowing with tart and crisp apples perfect for lattice-top pies and sweet little crab apples that look almost too precious to eat. But more often than not, I don't buy any apples. I head straight for the $1.00 cup of steaming cider and a cellophane baggie of apple cider doughnuts.

Tiny and chubby with a wrinkled belly button, the cakey doughnuts are covered in granulated sugar and a touch of cinnamon. They're irresistibly soft and I usually eat all but one, saving it for pre-bedtime snack when I'm tucked under blankets as the chill autumn wind seeps through a cracked window.

Since the doughnuts are so cake-like by nature, it was easy to turn them into an actual cake. This is a buttery cake, coated in the requisite cinnamon-sugar. Mace, the cobwebby exterior of nutmeg, is a must in this recipe as it adds that unmistakable doughnut flavor to the cake. There is no cinnamon in this cake other than in the coating because I find that it overwhelms the cake in general and the apple taste in particular. And now that we're on the subject, even though I love those farmers' market doughnuts, they're often wanting in apple cider flavor. Here, a tart apple is cooked in apple cider and then reduced to concentrate the flavor and make the cake live up to its name. How do you like them apples?

October 2012

This recipe was re-tested in 2022 and lightly updated and edited to ensure the best results.

Recipe Facts

4.5

(10)

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Active: 30 mins
Cooling Time: 60 mins
Total: 2 hrs 30 mins
Serves: 10 to 12 servings
Makes: 1 bundt cake

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Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 9 tablespoons (4 1/2 ounces; 135g) unsalted butter at room temperature, divided

  • 2 small Granny Smith apples (about 6 ounces/170g each), peeled, cored, and roughly chopped (about 2 cups)

  • 1 1/2 cups (355ml) fresh apple cider

  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature, plus more as needed

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (11 1/4 ounces; 319g)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon (3g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or the same weight

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace

  • 3/4 cup sugar (5 1/4 ounces; 149g)

  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces; 99g)

  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon (4ml) pure vanilla extract

For the Cinnamon Sugar Coating:

  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar (2 2/3 ounces; 75g)

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/8 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume

Directions

  1. For the Cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a large (10- to 12-cup capacity) Bundt pan with 1 tablespoon butter.

    Overhead view of a greased bundt pan

    Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

  2. In a medium saucepan, bring chopped apple and cider to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until most of the cider has been absorbed and apples are easily smashed with a fork, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat, cool 5 minutes, then process  in food processor until puréed, 60 to 90 seconds, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. Measure out 1 cup apple mixture (if you have less than 1 cup apple mixture, add additional milk to reach 1 cup). Stir apple mixture into milk, set aside.

    Two Image Collage. Top: a fork mashing apples in a saucepan. Bottom: Mixing apple mixture into mix in a measuring cup

    Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and mace; set aside.

    Overhead view of all dry ingredients in a bowl before being mixed

    Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat remaining 8 tablespoons butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, about 20 seconds. Add oil and beat until incorporated, about 45 seconds.

    Two Image collage of Butter, sugar, and brown sugar, light and fluffy in a stand mixer and adding oil to the bowl

    Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

  5. Decrease mixer speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with apple mixture, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Increase speed to medium and beat mixture just until combined, about 20 seconds. Add vanilla and beat once more, just to combine, about 10 seconds.

    Four Image collage of batter coming together in the standmixer with the additions of flour and apple mixture

    Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

  6. Scrape batter into prepared pan, smooth surface with a spatula. Bake in preheated oven until a cake tester inserted in cake comes out with just a few crumbs, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer cake to wire cooling rack set inside baking sheet and cool in pan 15 minutes, then invert directly onto wire cooling rack (see notes).

    Two Image collage of cake batter being smoothed in a bundt pan and finished, baked cake on a wire rack.

    Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

  7. For the Cinnamon Sugar Coating: Combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a small bowl. While cake is still hot, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, using fingers to rub it onto sides. Cool cake completely, about 1 hour, then serve

    Overhead view of sprinkling sugar on cake resting on wire rack

    Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

Special Equipment

Food processor, Bundt pan, stand mixer, silicone spatula, wire cooling rack

Notes

To unmold the cake from the Bundt pan after cooling, use your fingers to gently pull the cake away from the side of the pan. Next, place the wire cooling rack on top, then quickly flip the whole thing over, using oven mitts to protect your hands. Once it's flipped, let the cake sit a moment or two. Then remove the Bundt pan carefully.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
373 Calories
15g Fat
55g Carbs
5g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10 to 12
Amount per serving
Calories 373
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 19%
Saturated Fat 6g 31%
Cholesterol 70mg 23%
Sodium 268mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 55g 20%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 33g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 12mg 60%
Calcium 73mg 6%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 141mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)