apple cider donut cake

Fall is full of apples, and apple orchards, and fresh-pressed cider, and hot apple cider donuts and fresh apple fritters.

For most of the country, at least.

The closest I can get is store-bought apple cider… and this apple cider donut cake, which is delicious, and not deep-fried, and still super full of fall flavors.

The original recipe calls for cooking sliced granny smiths in cider, and pureeing them, and adding that to the cake.  Since my stores apple selection could be described as dismal at best, I decided to replace the fresh pureed apples with applesauce, which also means you make this any time of the year, in any part of the world, because I’m pretty sure that even if you don’t have fresh apples readily available, you will still be able to find some applesauce.

I also added buttermilk to give it a nice, tender crumb, since anyone who may have tried to substitute applesauce in a recipe may know it can make things a little on the “chewy” side.

This cake is like a fresh cider donut, and since it has “donut” in the name that means you are allowed to eat it for breakfast.  And any recipe that allows me to sneak cake into my breakfast regimen is considered a win in my book, especially if you then cover that cake in a layer of sweet cinnamon-sugar.

This cake would be the perfect brunch item, providing you and your guests something to snack on while they wait for your turkey to roast, or it would make a delightful alternative as a Thanksgiving dessert for those of you who don’t care for pumpkin, I know you’re out there.

Apple Cider Donut Cake

apple cider donut cake


    For the cake:
  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room-temperature, cubed
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • ¾ cup apple cider
  • ½ cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For Cinnamon-Sugar Coating
  • 6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ? teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ? teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and prepare bundt pan with butter or spray.
  2. Put applesauce in liquid measuring cup. Fill with apple cider to 1 cup mark. Stir to combine. Add buttermilk and vanilla to cider mixture and stir to combine again.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
  4. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition. Add oil and continue beating until incorporated.
  5. Decrease mixer speed to low and add flour mixture alternating with apple mixture (flour-cider-flour-cider-flour), scraping down the bowl as needed. Remember to scrape up from the bottom too to catch any flour pockets that may be hiding down there.
  6. Scrape batter into greased bundt pan and bake 35-45 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto rack, coat with cinnamon sugar mixture (I sprinkled it over the top, then poured into my hand and rubbed onto the sides), leave on rack until it has cooled completely.
  7. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.


Adapted from Serious Eats ]

12 thoughts on “apple cider donut cake

  1. that is the biggest, most beautiful doughnut cake ever. your sugar job (can i say sugar job?) is impeccable! it’s JUST EXACTLY LIKE A SUGAR DOUGHNUT WOULD BE IF IT WERE HUMONGOUS.
    and did i read that right? AZ doesn’t…have…apples??? That’s borderline unamerican. just saying. we need to fix that somehow, because the midwest/northeast/anywhere else/i think washington state because ‘washington apples’ and all that? we have SO MANY OF THEM. why can’t you all borrow some? I’m starting a foundation for next year: Apples for Arizona.

    • I think there are apples further north in the state, but all the apples in our grocery store are from like Ecuador or Chile or something for some reason. It’s really weird. Same thing with the citrus, Phoenix is FILLED TO THE TOP with lemon, orange, etc… trees. You can walk down the road (or in my case, into my front or back yard) and pick a piece of citrus off of a tree, but for some reason if I go to buy it at the store it’s all from some other country… who knows why.

      • We also have the influx of chilean fruit here, and that happens sometime in midwinter. a few years ago, my grocery store started making a big deal of “fruit from Chile!” like it was some exotic thing. Dudes: you’re just importing fruit. I guess Chile has all the fruit we don’t have because their summer is our winter, or something?
        I know all about phoenix and citrus trees. My grandma has a “winter house” there (has for years) and she i think had at least a lemon tree, if not something else, in her small backyard. I also think my cousins have citrus trees; for this i am massively jealous, because i would use the HELL out of a citrus tree; especially a lemon.
        Isn’t that weird about having seemingly tons of available fruit and then seeing that the grocery fruit is from another land entirely? That happens with our tomatoes in the summer; you can’t tell me Missouri doesn’t have tomatoes: we HAVE some tomatoes. yet most of ours (in stores) are from Arkansas. wha? I also get confused when it seems like we could “import” things like oranges from say, florida, yet our oranges come from south america somewhere. Odd.
        we should be in charge of more stuff. solving the world’s issues and whatnot. 🙂

  2. This sounds so great, but i cant see where u added the buttermilk i’m guessing u add it either with the flour & applesauce mixture or you add it to the applesauce mixture…. Can u please clarify 🙂
    Cheers Wendy 🙂

    • Oh my gosh, Wendy! You’re right! You will want to stir the buttermilk into your apple cider mixture so it gets incorporated when you add your wet ingredients. I have fixed the recipe to read correctly now 🙂 Thanks for pointing that out!

  3. Hi…just thought you’d like to know that you omitted the 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar from your recipe. I noticed it when it said to combine the butter and the “sugars”.

  4. Thx Natalie, and YES – we loved this cake! Took it to a party this weekend, and it disappeared in no time. I substituted Coconut Oil for the vegetable oil, and made a Maple Glaze instead of the Cinnamon Sugar Topping. Delicious – I’ll be making this again for sure!

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