Cake donuts are tender and delightful! And the best part about this recipe? These fluffy donuts are baked not fried.
With lots of options for toppings, these Easy Baked Cake Donuts will soon become one of your go-to recipes.
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Why you'll love this recipe
Baked donuts are such an easy way to bring a little bit of the donut shop right to your kitchen. No donut maker or bread machine needed. Here are some more reasons why you'll love these homemade cake donuts:
- no frying necessary! this is an easy recipe for anyone with a sweet tooth or anyone who loves warm donuts fresh out of the oven
- no special equipment needed. Even a donut pan is optional! I give you a great donut pan substitute while still achieving the taste and texture of donuts made in a donut baking pan
- these donuts take about 30 minutes to make start to finish, so you can enjoy fresh, warm donuts anytime
- and last but certainly not least, the texture of these cake doughnuts can't be beat! they're super soft and tender, but still moist with just a hint of nutmeg like in old-fashioned donuts
🧾 Ingredients & substitutions
To make the best baked donut recipe, you'll need the following ingredients:
- All-purpose flour
- Cake flour: If you don’t have cake flour, technically you can substitute it cup-for-cup with all-purpose flour. To maintain the texture of these cake donuts, try this easy substitute for cake flour: measure one cup all-purpose flour, remove 2 tablespoons from the one cup and replace with 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Whisk together to aerate and create a light and fluffy flour
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Ground nutmeg: just a little bit goes a long way. It also brings that old-fashioned donut flavor to this recipe
- Eggs: remove them from the fridge at least 30 minutes prior to baking to reach room temperature. This will allow the eggs to incorporate evenly into the donut batter
- Brown sugar: light or dark brown sugar will work in this recipe. Brown sugar adds moisture and allows these donuts to bake up soft and tender inside
- Milk: I recommend whole milk or 2%. Non dairy milk may be substituted
- Sour cream: use full-fat sour cream in this recipe. This is very important in sour cream donuts, of course! If you do not have sour cream, full-fat plain Greek yogurt may be substituted
- Melted butter: I recommend using unsalted butter so you can control the level of salt in the recipe. Salted butters vary in the amount of salt contained in the butter, so using unsalted is ideal
- Vanilla extract: Use high quality vanilla - you'll taste the difference this makes in the final product
I highly recommend investing in a donut pan (or two) for this recipe, and other baked donut recipes. They're inexpensive (less than $15 for two) and make the shape and baking of these donuts come out perfectly! Most are also non-stick which makes removing the donuts (and clean-up!) super easy.
However, I completely understand if you do not have room to add yet another pan to your collection. Or, if you came across this recipe and want to make it spur-of-the-moment and you do not have a donut pan.
To make this baked donut recipe without donut pan, use a muffin tin instead. The donut muffins will take just a minute or two longer to bake and they'll have the same flavor and texture as those made in a donut pan!
If using a mini muffin pan, adjust the baking time to 8-10 minutes, checking them often to ensure they do not overbake.
🥄 How to make this recipe
- Step 1: To make the doughnut batter, start by whisking together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl
- Step 2: In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, milk, and sour cream until you have a smooth consistency. Add in the melted butter and vanilla
- Step 3: Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture, mixing just until combined. It's important not to overmix, otherwise the donuts will be tough and dry instead of moist and tender
- Step 4: Spray the donut pan (or muffin tin) with nonstick cooking spray. Add the batter to a pastry bag with a large round tip or to a large plastic bag with ½-inch of the corner cut off. Pipe the batter into each well, only filling ⅔ of the way
- Step 5: Bake for 10-12 minutes or until donuts have turned just slightly golden brown. Turn donuts out onto a wire rack to cool just enough for you to handle them
- Step 6 (optional): top with powdered sugar, vanilla glaze or cinnamon sugar (see Notes section of the recipe below for ingredients and instructions)
👩🍳 Pro Tips
- This recipe is easily halved. Half the recipe will yield about 8 donuts
- Avoid overmixing the donut batter to maintain the tender, soft texture of the donuts
- The donut cavities will look like they're not filled enough, however, if you overfill them, the donut holes will be covered when the donuts bake. To attain the perfect donut shape, fill the wells of the donut pan only ⅔ full
- If you do not have a pastry bag, use a ziplock bag with the corner cut off to pipe out the donut batter. I do this often and it's a great little trick
❓FAQs about baked donuts
Cake donuts are made from a batter similar to that of cake. And cake donuts are leavened with chemical leavener. In most cases, this is baking powder. Yeast donuts are leavened with yeast. Cake donuts can be fried or baked. Cake donuts tend to be a bit more dense and cake-like than yeast donuts, which are lighter and fluffier on the inside.
Use a standard muffin tin and spray the wells with nonstick spray. Fill each well ⅔ of the way and bake at 350°F for 15 minutes. Top the same way as donuts, if desired
Raised donuts are typically made using yeast whereas cake donuts are made with a chemical leaver such as baking powder. The type of leavener impacts the texture of the donut. Cake donuts have a texture similar to that of cake and raised donuts made with yeast are typically lighter and fluffier.
Store donuts in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Donuts may be stored with toppings or without.
FOR ALL MY FAVORITE BAKING TOOLS INCLUDING THOSE USED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE, CHECK OUT MY BAKING RESOURCES PAGE!
➕More recipes like this one
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- ⅔ cup dark brown sugar packed
- ½ cup whole milk or 2% milk, room temperature
- ½ cup full-fat sour cream or plain full-fat yogurt, room temperature
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Make the donuts
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177ºF). Spray a donut pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and cake flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, milk, and sour cream until smooth.
- Add in the melted butter and vanilla, whisking until fully combined.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not over mix. The batter will be thick.
- Add the batter to a ziplock bag with ½ an inch of one corner cut off. Pipe the batter into the donut cavities, filling each about ⅔ of the way. Do not overfill.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are just lightly browned.
- Allow to cool for about two minutes and turn out onto a wire rack set on a large piece of parchment paper or over a baking sheet.
- Allow donuts to cool down a couple of minutes until you can handle them. See notes for topping options
- For powdered sugar donuts, roll both sides of donuts in ½ cup of powdered sugar. Sift the sugar before dipping to remove any lumps
- For cinnamon sugar topping, melt ½ cup unsalted butter in one bowl and mix together ½ cup granulated sugar plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon in another bowl. Dip both sides of each donut in the melted butter then immediately dip in the cinnamon sugar
- For glazed donuts, whisk together 1 ½ cups powdered sugar, ¼ cup milk, a pinch of kosher salt and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Dip both sides of each donut in the glaze and place on a wire rack set over a baking tray to catch any glaze that drips off
- To make baked donuts without donut pan: Use a standard muffin tin and spray the wells with nonstick spray. Fill each well ⅔ of the way and bake at 350°F for 15 minutes. Top the same way as donuts, if desired
- Store donuts at room temperature up to 4 days. Store in the fridge for up to one week. Warm in the microwave at 50% power for 30 seconds, or until desired temperature
- Nutrition is calculated with baked donuts, no toppings added
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