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Apple Cider Donut Cake

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When orchard-fresh cider meets donuts in a cake, you get the coziest apple cider donut cake.

slice of apple cider donut cake on plate

Ever find yourself daydreaming about donuts, donut cakes, or even donut muffins? If not, I admire your restraint, but we’re about to change that! Meet the apple cider donut cake: spiced generously with nutmeg and brimming with apple goodness, it echoes the flavors of your favorite fall donut—minus the frying and in a convenient square shape. The magic behind its irresistible flavor is reducing the apple cider, and then incorporating it into both the cake batter and the glaze. This process amps up the flavor and infuses the cake with a tart sweetness that, paired with nutmeg, nails the iconic cider donut taste. Perfect for using up apple cider from your autumn outings or weekend market hauls, this cake embodies fall’s warmth and is a hit with both kids and adults.

What You’ll Need: Apple Cider Donut Cake

apple cider donut cake ingredients

Step-by-Step Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and set an oven rack in the middle position. Butter or coat an 8-inch square metal baking pan with nonstick spray. Line the pan with an 8×16-inch piece of parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. You’ll have to create seams in the corners and along the edges of the pan to get it to stay put.

how to prepare the parchment sling

In a small skillet, bring the apple cider to a boil over medium heat. Gently boil until the cider is reduced to ½ cup, 10 to 15 minutes. (If you accidentally over-reduce it, make up the difference with more cider.)

bringing the apple cider to a boil

Let cool for about 10 minutes. Measure out ⅓ cup and leave the remaining reduced cider in the skillet.

measuring out 1/3 cup of the reduced cider

In a large bowl, combine the sugar and eggs.

sugar and eggs in bowl

Whisk until pale and foamy, about 1 minute.

whisked sugar and eggs

Add the sour cream, followed by the butter, and then the nutmeg, vanilla, salt, and the 1/3 cup of reduced cider.

adding the sour cream, butter, vanilla, and reduced cider

Whisk until evenly combined.

Add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

adding the flour and baking soda

Whisk until smooth.

finished batter in bowl

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

batter in prepared pan

Bake until the cake is puffed and golden and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Set the pan on a rack to cool for about 15 minutes then use the parchment paper to lift the cake out of the pan and set it on the rack to cool.

cake cooling on rack

Make the Glaze: To the skillet with the remaining reduced cider, add the butter, sugar, and salt.

adding the sugar, butter, and salt to the remaining cider in the skillet

Bring to a boil over medium heat and gently boil until very thick, 30 to 60 seconds.

thickened glaze

Drizzle the cake evenly with the glaze, then let the glaze set for a few minutes while you make the cinnamon-sugar topping.

drizzling the cake with the glaze

In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon and sugar until evenly combined.

sugar and cinnamon in bowl for topping

Sprinkle a generous layer of the mixture evenly over the glazed cake, reserving a bit to add a fresh dusting before serving, if desired.

cake dusted with cinnamon sugar

Cut the cake into squares and serve.

pieces of apple cider donut cake on plate

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Apple Cider Donut Cake

When orchard-fresh cider meets donuts in a cake, you get the coziest apple cider donut cake.

Servings: 16 squares
Prep Time: 40 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 1½ cups apple cider
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅔ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1¼ teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled off
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

For the Cider Glaze

  • Reduced cider, reserved from making the cake
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Big pinch salt

For Cinnamon Sugar Topping

  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and set an oven rack in the middle position. Butter or coat an 8-inch square metal baking pan (see note) with nonstick spray. Line the pan with an 8x16-inch piece of parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. You'll have to create seams in the corners and along the edges of the pan to get it to stay put.
  2. In a small skillet, bring the apple cider to a boil over medium heat. Gently boil until the cider is reduced to ½ cup, 10 to 15 minutes. (If you accidentally over-reduce it, make up the difference with more cider.) Let cool for about 10 minutes. Measure out ⅓ cup and leave the remaining reduced cider in the skillet.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs until pale and foamy, about 1 minute. Whisk in the sour cream, followed by the butter, and then the nutmeg, vanilla, salt, and the ⅓ cup of reduced cider. Whisk until evenly combined. Add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and whisk until smooth.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the cake is puffed and golden and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Set the pan on a rack to cool for about 15 minutes then use the parchment paper to lift the cake out of the pan and set it on the rack to cool.
  5. Make the Glaze: To the skillet with the remaining reduced cider, add the butter, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat and gently boil until very thick, 30 to 60 seconds. Drizzle the warm cake evenly with the glaze. Let the glaze set for a few minutes while you make the cinnamon-sugar topping.
  6. In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon and sugar until evenly combined. Sprinkle a generous layer of the mixture evenly over the glazed cake, reserving a bit to add a fresh dusting before serving, if desired. Cut the cake into squares and serve.
  7. Make-Ahead/Freezer-Friendly Instructions: Store the cake, covered, at room temperature for up to three days. The cake can also be frozen for up to 3 months; wrap the finished cake tightly with aluminum foil or freezer wrap. Thaw overnight on the countertop and dust with more cinnamon-sugar if necessary before serving.
  8. Note: For this particular cake, using a metal baking pan is essential for achieving an even rise; glass tends to heat unevenly, leading to cakes that rise irregularly and peak too high on the sides.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (16 servings)
  • Serving size: 1 square
  • Calories: 191
  • Fat: 10 g
  • Saturated fat: 6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 24 g
  • Sugar: 14 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 2 g
  • Sodium: 168 mg
  • Cholesterol: 48 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • This cake was absolutely delicious! Light, fluffy, and I loved the flavor the nutmeg added. I did use freshly grated nutmeg. Everyone who had it, ages 3-65, wanted seconds and thirds! Thanks for another wonderful recipe, Jenn!

    • — Christine S on November 20, 2023
    • Reply
  • What a lovely result. I doubled the recipe and used two 9 x 5 loaf pans. The baking time was @ 40-45 minutes. The cut cake reveals a beautiful crumb. I am a cinnamon lover who also doesn’t shy away from nutmeg. I will make a third loaf tomorrow (I have to do something with the cider that is left!) This time, I will add more cinnamon and nutmeg to the batter and I will add them to the glaze, as well. I also added more cinnamon to the topping.
    I’m thankful to the commenters who mentioned how to make this recipe with 9″ cake pans and the loaf pan measurements that I used. I’m freezing one loaf to give to my son and d-i-l who forget to take their apple cider home. They’ll just be getting it in a different form! Thank you, Jenn.

    • — Nene on November 19, 2023
    • Reply
  • Cake was delicious! My glaze did not thicken up enough. Next time I will just keep cooking it till it thickens. Thank you!

    • — Barb on November 18, 2023
    • Reply
  • Making this today! Would I be able to make these in a min muffin pan, so I can bring to nursing home? Thank you for all your recipes!
    Barb

    • — Barb on November 18, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure, Barb – that should be fine.

      • — Jenn on November 18, 2023
      • Reply
  • Excellent recipe. I kicked the flavor a couple notches by replacing the nutmeg with Chinese Five Spice Powder, then browning the butter instead of melting. The Five Spice slightly changes the flavor profile enough to raise eye browns when the warmth of the aroma hits the nose and the flavor is absorbed by the palate. I use Five Spice often when a recipe calls for cinnamon and or nutmeg, adding alongside or substituting for them. bp

    • — Bob Pulley on November 14, 2023
    • Reply
  • This cake is perfectly moist and delicious. It’s wonderful to serve for dessert . . . and leftovers make for a special breakfast treat. The nutmeg gives the flavor of an old fashioned donut. I used the whole amount and would do so again.

    • — Alyssa on November 11, 2023
    • Reply
  • Delicious! I’m not wild about nutmeg, but I do feel like it adds to the donut flavor. So I followed some other commenters’ suggestions, and cut it down a bit. I used 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon in the batter. Perfect fall afternoon snack!

    • — Rachel on October 25, 2023
    • Reply
  • I would love to make this but many reviews are saying the nutmeg is overpowering. Do you think that is due to the some may use nutmeg pre-ground from the spice aisle or people are freshly grating their own nutmeg? Freshly grated nutmeg is so good. Thanks!

    • — Cindy Spencer on October 25, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Cindy, I don’t know for sure which kind of nutmeg people are using, but I would assume that most use the version that is already ground. Feel free to cut back on the nutmeg a touch if you’re concerned about it.

      • — Jenn on October 25, 2023
      • Reply
    • I used pre-ground nutmeg. (My store didn’t have any whole nutmeg, otherwise I would’ve used that.)

      • — Rachel on October 26, 2023
      • Reply
    • I used freshly grated nutmeg in this cake. I always cut back the amount of nutmeg in a recipe when using freshly grated as I find it has way more flavour. I didn’t measure it out but I would guess I used approx. 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg – the flavour was great! Loved this recipe.

      • — Jane on October 26, 2023
      • Reply
  • Made this cake and it’s very good. I did think it would have more apple flavor. I think if I make it again I will add a little cinnamon to the cake batter.

    • — Juanita on October 23, 2023
    • Reply

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