We all know and love the apple cider donuts you get at farmstands, still piping hot from the fryer! My personal favorites are from Cider Belly Donuts in New Hampshire 🙂 Where are your favorite donuts? This bundt cake is my attempt to recreate those same flavors at home… warmth from the spices, a slight tartness from the apples, and a crunchy cinnamon-sugar coating.
Does anybody else feel like apple cider donuts do not have enough apple flavor? Sometimes they just taste like spice cake to me. My goal was to really highlight apples. This is accomplished through:
- Grated apples: That is right! There is fresh grated apple right in the batter. Because of the small size, it melts away while baking but it leaves behind flavor and moisture.
- Reduced apple cider: A lot of recipes call for apple cider (duh!) but reduced apple cider intensifies the flavor even more. You can add more flavor without making the batter too runny.
- Apple sauce: We are using unsweetened apple sauce so this really mostly helps with moisture and some apple flavor.
- Apple cider browned butter glaze: After baking, we brush a mixture of browned butter and apple cider on the cake in order to get the cinnamon-sugar to stick.
- Apple cider caramel: This cake is great eaten as is for breakfast or a snack. If you want to up the ante for dessert, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of apple cider caramel.
Working with Caramel
Making caramel at home is very tricky. You need a candy thermometer at the very least because caramel is so temperature-sensitive. Apple cider is reduced and added to the heavy cream with spices. I opted to use brown sugar as a base because of its warmth and added depth of flavor. Be careful when combining the heavy cream mixture with the melted sugar- it will bubble and spit at you!
How to prevent your cake from sticking to the pan
Bundt pans can have lots of pretty ornate details. The problem with this is that it treats lots of nooks and crannies. Without properly coating your pan, too much of the batter with stick to the edges and when you try to flip it, your cake will not easily release and you will be left with (still-delicious) cake chunks. In the past, I have had success with the baking non-stick spray (the kind that has flour in it). I didn’t have this on hand so I used this Magic Cake Pan Release Paste from If You Give a Blonde a Kitchen and I was really impressed! I loved how you had control of where you needed extra coverage. It worked like a charm!
Also, be sure to let your cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes after baking. As it cools, it will stink and pull away from the edges. Then you can invert it on a cooling rack to cool completely.
I hope you love this recipe and that it reminds you of all the fun fall memories 🙂 Please leave a review if you make these and tag @anchoredbaking and #anchoredbaking so I can see your creation!!
Apple Cider Donut Cake with Apple Cider Caramel Sauce
- 1 and 1/2 cup apple cider reduced to 1/2 cup, room temperature
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (360 grams)
- 3 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 and 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 cup neutral oil (I used vegetable)
- 1 and 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed light or dark
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetend applesauce, room temperature
- 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup grated apple (I used 2 small apples)
Apple Cider Browned Butter
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp apple cider
- 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- pinch of salt
Apple Cider Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup apple cider, reduced to about 1/4 cup
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- pinch of salt
- pinch of cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1 cup brown sugar light or dark
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
For the cake batter:
- Reduce apple cider: Pour the apple cider into a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring cider to a boil, stirring occacionally. It will bubble up and then start to settle down. Continue boiling until the cider is reduced to about 1/2 cup. Remove from heat and transfer to a heat-safe bowl to cool.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Sift together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking powder into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat together the oil and sugars until combined. Scrape the bowl and add apple sauce, beat to combine. With the mixer on slow speed, add eggs one at a time, waiting for each to just disappear before adding the next. Scape the bowl.
- Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until barely combined, then add 1/2 of the reduced apple cider, the next 1/3 of the flour mixture, the rest of the apple cider, and then the rest of the flour. Do not overmix the batter, a few streaks of flour are okay.
- Toss the grated apple in about 1 tablespoon of flour and sprinkle on top of the batter. Use a spatula to gently mix the apples in with the batter (trying to break up lumps of apple).
- Spray your 10-cup bundt pan with nonstick spray or the magic paste (see notes). Transfer batter to the prepared pan and bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven, and let the cake cool in the bundt pan for about 10 minutes. Then invert the cake on to a cooling rack to cool completely. Set aside.
Apple Cider Browned Butter
- Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Continuously whisk to prevent burning. The butter will go through stages- melt, bubbly/foaming, and then it will quickly start to brown and smell nutty. Remove promptly. Whisk in apple cider and set aside.
Cinnamon Sugar Coating
- Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
- Set your cake on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet (this process is messy and this will help with cleanup). Use a pastry brush to completely soak the cake in the apple cider browned butter. May sure to spead it evenly so the cinnamon sugar will stick. Then sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the cake. You can try to carefully tillt it to get the sides. (You may not use all the sugar, use to your own taste/preference.)
Apple Cider Caramel Sauce
- To boil the cider: Pour the apple cider into a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring cider to a boil, stirring occacionally. It will bubble up and then start to settle down. Continue boiling until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup.
- Add cream, salt, and spices to the saucepan with the boiled apple cider. Set aside. (You will warm this up prior to combining with the melted sugar.)
- For the sugar syrup: Whisk together brown sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Wipe the edges of the saucepan with a warm paper towel to prevent the sugar from burning up the side. Bring to a boil. Use a candy thermometer to track the temperature. Stir constantly. The mixture will become a warm, deep amber color and will thicken (it will continue to thicken after cooling).
- While the sugar syrup is coming up to temperature, warm the apple cider cream mixture to a simmer.
- Remove the sugar syprup from the heat when it registers 350 degrees F (this will take about 10-15 minutes). Slowly add about 1/3 of the apple cider cream mixture to the saucepan and whisk. NOTE: it will bubble and spit- be careful! Add the rest of the cream mixture and carefully whisk to combine. Add the butter and whisk until smooth. Transfer to a heat-safe bowl.
- I recommend serving this cake warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and the apple cider caramel sauce. The caramel sauce hardens pretty quickly (see notes). To warm it up, microwave at 50% power for 1 minute (or until you reach the desired consistency).
- Here is the recipe for the cake pan release paste: https://www.ifyougiveablondeakitchen.com/grease-cake-pan-release/
- I am still testing caramel sauce recipes that stay soft for longer. In the meantime, please microwave before serving).
Recipe modified from Stephanie’s Sweet Treats.