Cake donuts are becoming big news and I’ve got a simple recipe you’ll love. I’d been wanting to try them for ages and finally I came up with this recipe and the end result is just lovely.

There are some schools of thought that a cake donut is not a real donut. Well, 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. Soft and fluffy, just like a cupcake, these Cinnamon Baked Cake Donuts are a lightly spiced treat, that tastes surprisingly similar to the real deal.

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 tin but just won’t have a donut shape.

This is very different from making regular 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 batter, then piping it into the holes of a donut baking pan.

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).

A collage showing how to mix the batter for cake donuts

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

Cake donut batter piped into a donut pan

What is brown butter?

Brown 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.

How to make brown butter icing

Well now that you have your brown butter, you just need to 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).

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

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).

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

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.

Substitutions

  • 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.
  • 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 Cake 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.

Other recipes you might like

 

Cake donuts in a tin with dessert tongs next to them

Cinnamon Baked Cake Donuts with Caramel Brown Butter Icing

5 from 5 votes
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.

Ingredients

FOR THE DONUTS

  • 130  (1 cup / 4.6oz) plain (all-purp) flour
  • teaspoon  baking powder
  • teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4  teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2  cup  buttermilk, room temp
  • large egg, room temp
  • 2 tablespoons (30g / 1oz) unsalted butter, melted (notes)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

FOR THE BROWN BUTTER ICING

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

Instructions
 

FOR THE DONUTS

  • Prep: Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / 160C fan forced. Spray a doughnut pan with oil spray. Have a piping bag at the ready (see notes)
  • Dry ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and sugar until thoroughly combined.
  • Wet ingredients: 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 3/4 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.
  • Top the doughnuts: Place your doughnuts, on a 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.

Notes

  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).

TOOLS USED IN THIS RECIPE

 
Have you tried this recipe?Rate or comment below and let us know how it was!

Closeup of 4 glazed cake donuts in a tin