What Is Apple Cider Donut Cake? And Does It Really Taste Like a Donut?

Apple Cider Donut Cake combines the flavors of a classic fall donut with cake form, featuring a moist, tender crumb and a sweet, spiced taste that mimics an apple cider donut.

I don’t know about anyone else but I love cake donuts. So a cake that tastes like a donut intrigued me so much that I knew I just had to try it.

I never realized what I was missing until I tasted this cake. My first thought was “Where have you been my whole life”.

Apple cider brings thoughts of fall to my mind. We are not quite there yet but the days are getting shorter with hot days and cool evenings and mornings.

So maybe I am jumping the gun so to speak but I knew I just had to try this cake although technically the fall season is not here just yet. It is getting closer every day.

My oldest grandson was at my house when I mentioned I was going to make this cake for our little family gathering that evening. He wasn’t too impressed. 

But then he is a pretty picky eater. All he would say was “Grandma, I’ll try it”.

I think he prefers pancakes, really!

Apple Cider

Apple cider donut cake

Pay close attention: I am using apple cider, not apple cider vinegar or apple juice. It can get pretty confusing. 

When I was explaining this cake to my daughter I kept saying apple cider vinegar when I meant apple cider. My brain sometimes gets ahead of my mouth and vice versa quite frequently.

What is the difference between apple cider and apple juice? Apple cider is unfiltered apple juice.

Where apple juice is clear and thin apple cider is thicker with small pieces of the apple, pulp, and sediment. Apple cider needs to be refrigerated whereas apple juice can sit on a shelf.

If you let apple cider sit long enough it will ferment naturally and become hard apple cider, the adult version of apple cider. Apple cider vinegar is mostly apple juice, but by adding yeast it turns the sugar in the juice into alcohol.

This process is called fermentation. Bacteria turn the alcohol into acetic acid.

And that’s what gives vinegar its sour taste and strong smell. Read here to see what Wikipedia says about apple cider.

Just remember you want to use apple cider in this donut cake. 


Diced apples in a pan

I made my own applesauce for this donut cake. I know it is an extra step but it is what makes this cake so special. 

You don’t need much. I made the applesauce the night before and just refrigerated it until I needed it the next day.

That way it was one less step to do. 

Applesauce Ingredients

1 large honey crisp apple

1 cup apple cider 


Peel, core, and chop apple. Add the 1 cup apple cider and chopped apple to a small saucepan.

Cook on medium-low for about 20 minutes or until the cider has almost evaporated and the apple is cooked down and soft. Mash the apple with a fork until you do not have any large chunks.

Refrigerate until needed. For the cake, you need 2/3 cup applesauce. 

I was just shy of this by a couple of teaspoons. I just happened to have some applesauce in the pantry so I just added what I needed.

The next time I make this donut cake I think I will use 2 apples and 1 1/2 to 2 cups apple cider. That way I know I will have enough. 

I would rather have more than not enough! I will just eat the extra applesauce! 

Apple Cider Donut Cake

Ingredients for the Cake

  • 1 3/4 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cups applesauce
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cups brown sugar
  • 2/3 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions for Making Apple Cider Donut Cake

In a large bowl add the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium-size bowl mix apple cider and applesauce and set aside.

In your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the sugars and room-temperature butter. Add 1 egg at a time mixing well after each addition.

Add vanilla extract. Alternating add applesauce mixture and dry ingredients.

Starting with dry ingredients and ending with wet ingredients. Pour mixture into a well-greased regular-size bundt pan. 

I used cooking spray. Make sure to coat all the nooks and crannies of the pan for an easy release.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Mine was done in 50 minutes.

Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.

Topping For Apple Cider Donut Cake

  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon.
Apple cider cake

Remove the cake from the bundt pan and brush the cake with melted butter. Mix sugar and cinnamon and rub into the cake.

I wanted to taste the cake more than I wanted to taste the cinnamon and sugar. So I just used 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. 

It was plenty for me. But that is just my preference.

My Final Thoughts

  • Apple Cider Donut Cake Description: The cake is inspired by the flavors of apple cider donuts, incorporating apple cider and cinnamon into the batter to mimic the taste and aroma of the classic fall treat, akin to how pumpkin spice latte captures the essence of pumpkin pie.
  • Texture and Taste Comparison: While the cake aims to replicate the flavor of apple cider donuts, its texture is more similar to that of a soft, moist coffee cake rather than the dense and chewy texture of a donut, much like how a banana bread mimics the flavor of bananas but has a different texture from actual bananas.
  • Key Ingredients: The use of reduced apple cider, cinnamon, and nutmeg in the cake batter helps to concentrate the flavors, similar to how mulled wine intensifies its taste by simmering spices with wine.
  • Topping and Finish: A sugary, buttery crumble topping is added to the cake, reminiscent of the sugar coating on apple cider donuts, enhancing the cake’s similarity to the donut in both flavor and appearance, akin to the way a streusel topping on a muffin can mimic the texture of a crumbly cookie.
  • Serving and Pairing: The cake is often enjoyed warm, sometimes with a glaze or frosting to enhance its donut-like appeal, paralleling how warm, glazed cinnamon rolls evoke a comforting, indulgent experience.

I am so proud of how the finished cake looked and tasted. My oldest grandson did “try it” as he promised. 

I have to say that he wasn’t too impressed though. But my second oldest grandson was a different story. 

His exact words were “Grandma, that cake is really good”. I think I may just have to make this cake again for Thanksgiving. 

I love it when my family approves of my cooking and baking. I feel that I have done something right. 

But then again you can’t please everyone. Especially those “picky eaters” of the family.

But I will take this as a win.

Apple cider donut cake

Have you ever tasted apple cider donut cake? If not you don’t know what you are missing!

I hope you give this apple cider donut cake a try. And please leave me a comment below with your thoughts.

As always, have a wonderful day!


Q1: What is Apple Cider Donut Cake?

  • Apple Cider Donut Cake is a dessert that blends the flavors typical of apple cider donuts into a cake format. It incorporates apple cider, applesauce, and a mixture of spices which are all characteristic of the traditional autumnal treat.
  • The cake is designed to evoke the same seasonal, spiced taste as apple cider donuts, featuring ingredients like cinnamon and nutmeg that contribute to its distinctive flavor profile.

Q2: Does Apple Cider Donut Cake taste like a donut?

  • While Apple Cider Donut Cake is inspired by the taste of apple cider donuts, its texture is more akin to a moist coffee cake rather than the chewy texture of a traditional donut. The cake’s flavor mimics the donut, especially when topped with a cinnamon-sugar blend.
  • The cake aims to capture the essence of apple cider donuts not just in taste but also through its aroma and the use of a sugary topping that resembles the sugar coating often found on donuts.

Q3: What are the key ingredients in Apple Cider Donut Cake?

  • Key ingredients include apple cider, homemade applesauce, and a blend of spices such as cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. These elements help to concentrate the flavors and enhance the cake’s resemblance to the donut it’s modeled after.
  • The cake also uses standard baking ingredients like flour, eggs, and butter, which are combined with unique elements like apple cider and spices to create a rich, flavorful dessert.

Q4: How is Apple Cider Donut Cake prepared?

  • The preparation involves creating a batter with spices, apple cider, and applesauce, which is then baked in a bundt pan to achieve a donut-like shape. This method helps in mimicking the appearance and taste of a donut.
  • After baking, the cake is typically topped with a mixture of melted butter and cinnamon sugar, enhancing its donut-like flavor and adding a textural contrast with a slightly crunchy topping.

Leave a Comment