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.
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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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
Did you try this cinnamon baked cake donut recipe?
Leaving a rating and comment below the recipe is so helpful!
Cinnamon Baked Cake Donuts with Caramel Brown Butter Icing
FOR THE DONUTS
- 130 g plain flour (all-purpose flour) (1 cup / 4.6oz)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar (66g / 2.3oz)
- ½ cup buttermilk, room temp (125ml)
- 1 large egg, room temp
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (30g / 1oz) (notes 1)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR THE BROWN BUTTER ICING
- 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
- A wire cooling rack for sitting the donuts on to set
- FOR THE DONUTS: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.
- FOR THE BROWN BUTTER ICING: 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.
- I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (= 4 teaspoons worldwide)
- 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).
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