Love Apple Cider Donuts but don't want to go through the steps to make them? This Apple Cider Donut Cake is the answer! It has all the flavor of our favorite seasonal treat but is made as a super easy snack cake.
Apple Cider Donuts + an easy-peasy cake = Apple Cider Donut Snack Cake! Essentially, this 30-minute dessert is a giant orchard-worthy donut baked in a 9" square cake tin. Its flavor is enriched by a reduction of apple cider, and it stays wonderfully moist thanks to the inclusion of olive oil and sour cream. Plus, it's got that classic cider donut vibe thanks to the sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar after it comes out from the oven.
So let's get to making it! You can jump around the article using the menu below or just head right to the bottom for the complete recipe.
Ingredients Needed and Substitutions
Here is a brief overview of the ingredients needed for this recipe. The recipe card lists the full recipe with quantities below this text. If substitutions are available for this recipe, they'll be listed here. If you don't see a substitution you are looking for, please leave a comment below.
- apple cider (see below this list)
- unsalted butter
- granulated sugar + brown sugar
- light olive oil (or any other neutral oil)
- sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
- baking powder + baking soda
- spices: cinnamon + allspice (or you can sub in your favorite apple pie spice)
- salt (this recipe was tested using Diamond Crystal coarse kosher salt. If you use Morton's Kosher salt or fine salt decrease by about half for volume)
- all-purpose flour (swap this with whole wheat flour for a more wholesome cake)
Don't Use Anything Other Than Apple Cider
Fresh apple cider is unfiltered juice made from crushed whole apples. It is not shelf-stable, is minimally processed, and has a much more robust and often tangier apple flavor than regular apple juice. It is often used in cooking or baking to emphasize apple flavor. It can be found nearly year-round these days in most grocery stores' fresh produce or fresh juice section.
Fresh apple cider is not "apple juice", which is similar to apple cider but heavily filtered and heated at a high temperature to make it shelf-stable, and it's not an alcoholic "cider" beverage.
But most importantly, it is not apple cider vinegar. ACV is vinegar that is made from fermented apple cider. Absolutely under no circumstances should you use apple cider vinegar instead of apple cider for this recipe.
I cannot offer any substitutes for fresh apple cider for this recipe.
Step-By-Step Recipe Overview
This is a quick visual overview of the steps needed to make this recipe. If you are looking for the full recipe, keep scrolling!
Step 1: Reduce the apple cider by half in a wide shallow pan.
Step 2: Add in the butter, which will help cool down the reduced cider.
Step 3: Whisk together the remaining wet ingredients, spices, and leaveners.
Step 4: Slowly whisk in the cider to the wet ingredients.
Step 5: Mix in the flour until just combined.
Step 6: Prepare a square baking dish with parchment paper, then pour in the cake batter.
How to Tell When It's Done Baking
Bake the cake on the middle rack in the preheated oven. There are several ways to tell that the cake is done:
- The cake is golden, with a matte appearance, and puffed up throughout. It will also have started to pull away from the sides of the pan.
- An internal temperature taken with an instant-read thermometer in the center of the cake is above 200ºF.
- A cake tester/toothpick inserted in the middle should only have a few moist crumbs, if anything, hanging on to it.
- Finally, my favorite way: If you listen to the cake very closely, you will hear one of two things. The first is you can hear very rapidly bubbling noises. This indicates that the cake still needs to bake and the noise you hear is water evaporation, or boiling. If you don't hear anything or just a few slow bubble noises, that likely means the cake is done!
Once the cake is finished baking, let it cool for 5 minutes before moving on to the final step.
The Finishing Touch
Brush butter on the warm cake.
Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
What really makes this cake feel like an apple cider donut is the warm melted butter brushed on top, followed by a good coating of cinnamon sugar. Make sure to do this while the cake is still warm.
Kelli's Best Tips
By nature, this cake is simple to make, but here are my best tips to ensure a successful bake:
- It is worth repeating: do not use apple cider vinegar instead of the called for apple cider.
- Use a wide and shallow saute pan to make quick work of reducing the apple cider.
- Measure the apple cider after it has been reduced to ensure you have exactly ¾ cup. If you've accidentally reduced it too much, that is no problem: add more apple cider until you have ¾ cup. If you have not reduced it enough, well, then reduce it some more until you do!
- Weighing your flour is the most accurate way to measure. If you aren't going to weigh it, make sure to spoon it into the cup and then level it off. If you scoop the flour out with the measuring cup and then level it, it could change the outcome of the final product.
This cake is best served slightly warm. However, it's still good for a few days. Store it in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days, or store it in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. It can be reheated in a toaster oven before serving.
More Baking Recipes
Making the recipe? Be sure to leave a comment with a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review on your experience! Have a question? Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can!Print
Love Apple Cider Donuts but don't want to go through the steps to make them? This Apple Cider Donut Cake is the answer! It has all the flavor of our favorite seasonal treat, but made as a super easy snack cake.
- 1-½ cups fresh apple cider
- 4 tablespoons (66 grams) cold unsalted butter, diced
- 2 large eggs
- ⅓ cup (70 grams) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (110 grams) lightly packed brown sugar
- ⅓ cup (70 grams) light olive oil (or other neutral oil)
- ¼ cup (66 grams) sour cream (or greek yogurt)
- 1-½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1-½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- Pinch allspice
- ¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt (if using fine sea salt use half by volume)
- 1-¾ cups (210 grams) cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon butter, at cool room temperature
- ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter (or spray with oil) a 9” square baking dish line it with a a piece of parchment paper long enough to hang over the sides to create a sling.
- In a large saute pan, boil the apple cider until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Measure to ensure it is ¾ cup. Add the butter to the hot cider, and whisk to combine.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, sour cream, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice and salt.
- Slowly whisk the boiled cider into the wet mixture.
- Stir in the flour to combine.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven until the cake is puffed, golden and baked through the middle, about 22-25 minutes.
- Place the cake on a cooling rack for 5 minutes.
- Place the butter on top of the cake, and brush it around as it melts
- In a small bowl, mix together ¼ cup of granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture liberally over the buttered surface.
- Remove the cake from the pan, and let it cool on the rack.
- Allow the cake to cool slightly before cutting it into squares.
Weighing your flour is the most accurate way to measure. If you aren't going to weigh it, make sure to spoon it into the cup, and then level it off. If you scoop the flour out with the measuring cup and then level, it could change the outcome of the final product.
Use only fresh apple cider, the unfiltered juice made from whole apples found in the refrigerated section. Do not use "apple juice" and do not use apple cider vinegar.
If the cider boils down below the ¾ cup level, simply add more cider. If it doesn't reduce enough, put it back on the heat.
Store leftover cake it in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days.
Keywords: Apple Cider Donut Cake