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Last Updated on April 5, 2021 by Chenée Lewis
Every year I visit an apple orchard in Northwest Indiana with some of my best friends. We caravan out there, take tractor rides to the apple fields and sunflower patch, take photos with pumpkins, shop in the barn store, and eat lunch from the food stands outside. It’s so much fun, and it’s definitely my favorite fall tradition. One absolutely mandatory part of the outing: the apple cider donuts. They sell them freshly baked, and you can take them home by the dozen. I haven’t been able to get my hands on those donuts so far this year, but that’s where this cake comes in! Like my favorite apple cider donuts, this apple cider donut cake is soft on the inside, golden brown on the outside, and coated with cinnamon and sugar.
If you love apple cider donuts like me, you’ll love this apple cider donut cake! It’s a pound cake, so it’s got a soft, buttery crumb, and it’s got that great autumn spice blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. It’s also bursting with all your favorite fall flavors: fresh apples, apple cider, brown sugar, and vanilla. Plus, because it’s made in a Bundt pan, it even looks like a donut!
And the best part? Once your apple cider donut cake is cooled, you’ll brush the outside with melted butter, and dust it with the most irresistible cinnamon-sugar coating! It ends up looking and tasting just like your favorite apple cider donuts! It’s a perfect fall treat, great for a crowd, for dessert or for breakfast!
This apple cider donut cake is made with some of your favorite fall ingredients, as well as a lot of ingredients that you’ll probably already have on hand!
- salted butter – you’ll need room-temperature salted butter for your cake batter. Not too soft — it should leave an indent when you press it, but it shouldn’t be greasy or melty.
- white and brown sugar – the combination of both gives this cake sweetness, as well as rich flavor and moisture.
- eggs – make sure your eggs are room temperature! If you need to bring them to room temperature quickly, you can submerge them in slightly warm water for 15 minutes.
- vanilla extract – perfect to complement all those lovely fall flavors. Be sure to use a high-quality pure vanilla extract. Or better yet, check out my post on how to make vanilla extract at home with just 2 ingredients!
- sour cream – gives your apple pound cake moisture and added flavor.
- apple cider – very necessary — brings so much autumn sweetness to this cake!
- shredded apple – We’re adding 2 shredded apples to this cake, bringing in more of that apple flavor as well as making the cake even more moist! I would recommend tart baking apples like Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or Fuji.
- cake flour – using cake flour in a pound cake recipe like this helps to keep your cake soft and fluffy, even with a tighter crumb.
- warm fall spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger! Or to save time, you can use your favorite apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice blend.
This apple cider donut cake doesn’t require many complicated tools, but you will need an electric mixer to cream together your butter and sugars, and to beat in your eggs. Beyond that, a good 10- or 12-cup Bundt pan is always important!
Step by Step
- Sift together your dry ingredients: cake flour, baking powder, and spices. This helps to ensure that they’re evenly mixed, and eliminates lumps in the flour.
- Then, cream together your butter and sugars. Keep your mixer no higher than medium and beat them until the mixture is light and fluffy. It should take about 3-5 minutes.
- Beat in your eggs, one at a time, making sure each is mixed in before adding the next. Beating them in slowly keeps the mixture fluffy and ensures a light, tender cake. Then add in your vanilla extract.
- To incorporate our the rest of our liquid ingredients, we’ll whisk together the sour cream and apple cider in a bowl and alternate adding our dry ingredients with the sour cream mixture. You’ll start with one third of the flour mixture, then half of the sour cream mixture, then another third of the flour mixture, and so on, ending with the final third of the dry ingredients. During this step, you’ll want to fold the batter very gently to maintain its fluffy texture.
- Then you can carefully fold in your shredded apples, spread the batter into your prepared Bundt pan, and bake!
If you’re a fan of this apple cider donut cake, you’ll want to try out some of my favorite autumn recipes! First, my salted caramel cinnamon thumbprint cookies are so delicious, SO easy, and perfect for fall!
Or if you’re in the mood for the ultimate fall dessert, my brown butter black-bottom sweet potato pie is a must-bake! The flaky crust, the brown butter in the filling, the brown sugar, and the warm fall spices — it’s so amazing! Either way, you can’t go wrong!
Equipment you may need
- 2½ cup cake flour - (290g)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1½ tsp ground cinnamon - (see note)
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp ginger
- 1¼ cup salted butter - room temperature (2½ sticks)
- 1¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 4 large eggs - room temperature
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- ⅔ cup sour cream - room temperature
- ⅓ cup apple cider - room temperature
- 1 cup grated apples - (180g) about 2 medium apples (see note)
- baking spray
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Position rack in the center of the oven.
- Sift together cake flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugars and cream on medium speed until lightened and fluffy, another 3-4 minutes.
- With mixer running, eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition. Mix in vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together sour cream and apple cider until smooth.
- Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in ⅓ of flour mixture until just combined, followed by ½ of sour cream mixture.
- Repeat process with another ⅓ of flour mixture, the rest of the sour cream mixture, and then the remainder of the flour mixture, being careful not to deflate the fluffiness of the batter.
- Gently fold your grated apples into the batter.
- Spray a 10-12 cup Bundt pan with baking spray — the kind with flour (see note).
- Spread batter into prepared Bundt pan and bake in preheated oven for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick entered into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Combine together cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg (if using) in a small bowl. Mix well.
- Brush melted butter all over cooled cake, including the inner portion of the Bundt, and in all the crevices.
- Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture onto cake and use your hands to press mixture into the sides of the cake.
- Make sure you have a good-quality Bundt pan or other fluted tube pan with a nonstick coating that isn’t scratched or scuffed.
- I like to coat my Bundt pan in Pam Baking Spray or another cooking spray with flour. You can also brush your pan with shortening and dust with flour. I prefer baking spray because it never sticks, and I don’t get those spots of flour on the outside of my cake, which can happen sometimes when you dust with flour.
- Prep your pan right before you pour in your batter. Many cake recipes tell you to grease your pan at the beginning. But with a Bundt cake, if you grease it too far in advance, the cooking spray or shortening might slide down the pan and collect at the bottom. This leaves much of the pan without adequate coating, and also creates pools of oil that can change the texture and taste of the top of your cake.
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