Soft and fluffy, just like a cupcake, these cinnamon baked cake donuts are a lightly spiced treat, that taste surprisingly similar to the real deal.

Like a donut with a cake texture and baked instead of fried, cake donuts have become very popular in recent years. These ones are loaded with cinnamon flavour and have a gorgeous caramelly, brown butter icing.

There are some schools of thought that a cake donut is not a real donut. For some time, I felt the same way but, having tried them, I now feel that, providing it’s called a ‘cake donut’, then there’s no wool being pulled over anyone’s eyes. Plus, they’re a super quick way to satisfy any donut lover.

This recipe as gone on to be adapted in these orange donuts with pomegranate icing and these baked strawberry donuts too.

A single cake donut on a small plate.

What is a cake donut?

A cake donut is basically a cake batter that is baked into the shape of a donut. They are also baked and not fried which is great as there is no need to heat up litres of oil and have it splattering all over your kitchen.

You can use a donut baking pan which is made specifically to result in a donut shape and that’s what I use but this recipe will also work just fine in a muffin pan but just won’t have a donut shape.

This is very different from making classic donuts which contain yeast and are made more like a bread. You can try my caramel doughnuts with brown sugar custard if that’s the donuts you’re after.

A broken open cake donut showing the texture.

How to make cake donuts

This is a very easy process of mixing together a basic donut batter, then piping it into the holes of a donut baking pan.

A collage showing how to mix the batter for cake donuts.

Jump to the recipe for full ingredients and instructions.

Mix together the wet ingredients in one bowl and the dry ingredients in another. Combine them (photo 1) and give them a mix until just combined (photo 2).

Cake donut batter piped into a donut pan.

Transfer the batter to a piping bag and pipe it around the greased donut holes (photo 3) then bake.

What is brown butter?

Brown butter or browned butter is butter that is melted and then cooked over low heat until it turns a golden brown colour. It has a rich nutty flavour and is lovely used in both sweet and savoury dishes.

It’s very easy to brown butter, just melt some butter in a light-coloured saucepan over low heat. After a minute or so it will start to foam. Swirl the pan every so often until you can see the colour change and smell that nutty aroma.

The milk solids within the butter will separate and burn but they will settle to the bottom of the pan, so when you use brown butter in anything, make sure to leave that burnt sediment behind. You can read more here.

The brown butter icing

Well now that you have your brown butter, it’s time to make the thick brown butter glaze.

A collage showing how to make brown butter icing in a saucepan.

Dissolve some brown sugar in a little water, again over low heat. Add the brown butter back to it along with some icing sugar and a little salt. Whisk that around until it’s thick and leaves a trail (photo 4) then add a little milk (this will add creaminess and loosen the icing) and whisk that through as well (photo 5).

How to ice donuts

A photo with one cake donut sitting in glaze and the others on a tray.

Set up a wire rack over a baking paper lined tin. Holding the bottom of the donut, dip the top into the icing. Carefully flip it back over and sit on the wire rack to set (photo 6).

Can you freeze cake donuts?

Yes, cake donuts will freeze well. For best results, sit them on a tray in the freezer until quite solid, then place them in a zip lock bag and place that into an airtight container – this will keep out any freezer smells.

Thaw them at room temperature for ½ hour – 45 minutes or you could even zap them in the microwave for 5-10 seconds. Baked cake donuts will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.


  • Icing: You can certainly skip the icing and instead brush a little melted butter over the top of the donuts, then roll them in some cinnamon sugar instead. Or try a chocolate glaze instead.
  • Cinnamon: Add other or extra spices if you prefer – ginger, all spice, nutmeg would all work wonderfully.
  • Donut pan substitute: Disclaimer, I have not tried this so please let me know if you do, however I feel that you could get small 1 inch x 2 inch strips of carboard and staple the ends together to form a circle. Place that in the centre of a jumbo muffin tin hole and hold it down while you pipe the batter around it. I’ll be sure and update this post when I try it out.
4 cake donuts in a tin with 2 donuts on the side.

If you’re after that donut flavour quickly, then these cinnamon baked donuts are what you need. These can be cooked and glazed in under an hour and are perfect whilst curled up on the sofa with a hot cup of joe.

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Cake donuts in a tin with dessert tongs next to them.
5 from 6 ratings
These Cinnamon Baked Cake Donuts are an easy donut recipe you can make quickly at home. With a Caramel Brown Butter Icing, these cake donuts will disappear fast.



  • 130  plain flour (all-purpose flour) (1 cup / 4.6oz)
  • teaspoon  baking powder
  • teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • cup granulated sugar (66g / 2.3oz)
  • ½ cup  buttermilk, room temp (125ml)
  • large egg, room temp
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (30g / 1oz) (notes 1)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (30g / 1oz) (notes 1)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons  brown sugar (notes 1)
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 2 teaspoons  milk
  • ½ cup  icing sugar (powdered sugar)
  • Pinch of salt

For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided



    Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) / 350F fan forced. Grease a doughnut pan with soft butter of non-stick cooking spray. Have a piping bag at the ready (see notes)
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and sugar until thoroughly combined.
  • Whisk together the buttermilk, egg, melted butter and vanilla until completely combined, then add to the dry ingredients and fold together with a spatula.
  • Rub the oil around in the doughnut tin so each hole is nicely coated. Spoon the batter into your piping bag and pipe into the tin holes, to about ¾ full.
  • Bake for 10 minutes – a toothpick should come out clean. Allow them to cool for 5 minutes in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Then you can use the empty doughnut pan to pipe and bake the last one.
    Place the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Bring to a simmer and cook swirling the pan often until it turns a golden brown colour. Strain the butter into a bowl and discard any black sediment.
  • Wipe out the saucepan and add the brown sugar and water. Stir over low heat until the sugar is no longer grainy, then take it off the heat.
  • Add the browned butter back to the saucepan, along with the icing sugar and salt. Whisk to combine then add the milk and mix through.
  • Place your doughnuts, on a wire rack over a lined baking tray (to catch any drips). Dip the tops into the icing, let a little drip off then turn them up the right way on the rack. Allow to set before serving.
  • Please take a moment to leave a comment & rating. It's appreciated and so helpful.


  1. I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (= 4 teaspoons worldwide)
  2. For best results, you should always weigh ingredients like flour and sugar. Kitchen scales are relatively cheap but if you can’t weigh the ingredients, use the spoon and level method (don’t scoop).


Have you tried this recipe?Don’t forget to leave a rating and comment below and let me know how it was! I love hearing from you. Nutrition information is approximate and derived from an online calculator. The brands you use may cause variations.
Nutrition Facts
Cinnamon Baked Cake Donuts with Caramel Brown Butter Icing
Amount Per Serving (77 g)
Calories 265 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Trans Fat 0.3g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 46mg15%
Sodium 115mg5%
Potassium 137mg4%
Carbohydrates 46g15%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 30g33%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 271IU5%
Vitamin C 0.03mg0%
Calcium 71mg7%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.