Cake Doughnut Recipe

So here it is: one of my top secret recipes. Cake doughnuts are a batter, not a dough. In professional shops, they’re made by a machine that drops ring-shaped quantities of batter into a vat of hot oil. They look like this, or if you have a bigger operation, like this. These so-called doughnut “depositors” are a little on the pricey side. Should you ever have access to one, great! If not, this recipe will work fine and dandy simply dropping spoonfulls of batter into hot oil. The quantity works great for simple “drop doughnuts”, i.e. small doughnut hole-sized blobs that you drop into the oil using a spoon. If you have an actual depositor you’ll want to at least quadruple this recipe.

Vanilla Cake “Drop” Doughnuts

8 ounces all-purpose flour sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3.5 ounces (1/2 cup) sugar
1 once ( 2 tablespoons) soft butter
2 ounces (1) egg
1 ounce sour cream
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3.5 ounces (scant 1/2 cup) milk

Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature to begin (this is VERY important). Have a fry pan or Dutch ready with about two inches of oil in it (I recommend canola).

Combine all the dry ingredients (including the sugar) in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Stir the eggs, milk, sour cream and vanilla together in a separate bowl. Turn mixer on low to blend all the dry ingredients together. Add the butter and turn the mixer up to medium-low. When the butter has been fully incorporated add the wet ingredients in a steady stream with the mixer running. Let the mixer run for 30 seconds and scrape the bowl down. Let the mixer run for another 30 seconds. The batter should be smooth, thick and spoonable. Let it rest for ten minutes, while you bring your oil up to temperature: 380 degrees Fahrenheit. Fry tablespoon-sized dollops in oil for 45 seconds per side. Drain on paper towels. Dust with sugar or dip in icing and serve warm.

This entry was posted in Cake Doughnuts, Doughnuts, Pastry, Pastry Components. Bookmark the permalink.

61 Responses to Cake Doughnut Recipe

  1. I don’t have the photos of the drop-style cake donuts I made using your recipe and instructions posted up on my website yet as I have completely ignored my blog shamelessly for eons now. However, they were so good they inspired me to get a donut dropper and I had to share a link with you and perhaps you can share with your readers because even $15.00 in these tough economic times can be a pinch…. … With shipping my order came to only $12.95! I have a question though, the oil you suggest using is canola but it smells awful when it heats. Is there another oil that is slightly less offensive when heated? Thanks for the great pictures and instructions! Christine.

    • joepastry says:

      Great news! Thanks for the email. Unfortunately, every oil will smell up your house when you fry with it. You can try vegetable oil and see if you prefer that, though I think the result will be largely the same. Thanks for the email! – Joe

  2. Jose Perez says:

    Hi i follow exactly the instructions but the mix doesnt seem quite as yours my mix a more liquid any tips?

    • joepastry says:

      Hello Jose! I’m very sorry to hear that it didn’t work for you. I suggest simply reducing the amount of milk. The dough will still perform the same way. Let me know how it goes the next time!


      - Joe

  3. Joe May says:

    Made 100 of these for a church breakfast with my “Hole in One” doughnut machine. IMO, a better doughnut than those from the just add water commercial mixes, so scratch made is worth the trouble. While vanilla nutmeg is great, just for variety can you list 1 or 2 other flavor formulas?
    Thanks for all the great information on your website.

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Joe! Great news. As for flavor combos, consider vanilla and nutmeg as a base. The vanilla is semi-disposable but a doughnut isn’t a doughnut without nutmeg. It’s vital to the device.

      You can add other flaborings to the batter, but for flavor variations I suggest getting adventurous with toppings or spiced sugars. A chocolate version is on my to-do list!

      - Joe

  4. Jen says:

    About how many doughnuts will this recipe yield?

    • joepastry says:

      That’s hard to say, Jen. Are you going to use a professional dropper or just fry up spoonfuls?

      - Joe

      • Jen says:

        Spoonfulls for doughnut holes. We are planning to try these out at home, then as a fund raiser for our Boy Scout troop.

        • joepastry says:

          I wish I could tell you for sure, Jen. Honestly I use a dropper for these. My guess is about two dozen, depending on the size.

          - Joe

  5. LINDA says:

    i must say that ur blog on donuts is the best i have stumble on yet. your chatty way of explaining the procedures and recipe makes one want to start trying them out immediately. keep the good work going. thanks.

    • joepastry says:

      Thanks for the high praise and delightful comment, Linda! Let me know what you think of them!

      - Joe

  6. Larry Rolph says:

    Joe, Do you think Peanut oil would work for Doughnuts instead of Canola oil.

    • joepastry says:

      Hi Larry!

      Peanut oil does work in the sense that it’s a perfectly good fry medium. However it will impart some peanut flavor, just as corn oil imparts corn flavor. If you don’t mind that then press on!

      - Joe

  7. Clif says:

    Joe, I’m confused. For yeast raised doughnuts, do we fry for 30 seconds per side, or 45 seconds? Your recipe for them says thirty, while the description above your recipe says 45. I only have 12 to 14 chances to figure it out. Secondly, can you offer any tips on placing our yeast raised doughnuts in the oil, without knocking the proof out of the dough? Do we just pick them up with our fingers, or is there a better way?

  8. Sharon says:

    Hi Joe!!

    Would this recipe work in a commercial grade, mini donut (hopper based) machine? Looking for a great recipe, NOT from a mix.



    • joepastry says:

      Hi Sharon!

      It’s actually formulated for an extruder like that. You may need to fiddle with the amount of milk to get the flow-through just right, but I used this recipe in an extruder with great success. You can also use the high ratio cake layer recipes, which also make excellent doughnuts.

      Best of luck!

      - Joe

  9. Dan says:

    You are going to get your laugh of the day here. I graduated med school but got drafted by the family business. We have a bakery in a grocery store and just purchased a Belshaw mini 110 donut machine. I have been attempting to use pancake mix for donuts with little success. One could feed the starving millions with all the bad donuts I have turned out. I assume this formula will work for the machine but is there a commercial mix or subsitute that would make things faster? Cooking is an art that I am not fluent in and beg your patience. Dan

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Dan!

      The other recipes on the site that make good cake doughnuts are the high ratio yellow and chocolate cake layers under the Pastry Components menu. I used all of these in my business, but it’s true they aren’t fast as a mix. You can use liquid eggs to speed the process up a little, but to truly make your own dry mix you’d need powdered fat, powdered eggs and such. Better to buy a mix by the sack from Sysco, Dawn or Bakemark. They have all sorts of different mixes that work with Belshaw gear.

      Let me know if this answers your question!


      - Joe

  10. Nilsa says:

    Hey Joe,
    Looking to make these donuts but want to add apple cider to make them apple cider donuts… have you ever done this? looking for any help! Trying to replicate super moist and very apple cidery donuts I had from a bakery, but they closed the doors. They were in Long grove Illinois.

    • joepastry says:

      Hi Nilsa!

      You certainly can use cider in place of the milk if you wish. In my experience it doesn’t produce an extremely cidery doughnut, but it’s been a while since I attempted it. Try it and let me know what you think. If they don’t have the flavor you want, we can try adding a little applesauce to the mix as well!


      - Joe

  11. Julz says:

    Ok, so let me start off by saying
    this recipe is IDIOT proof!!
    I personally know my way around a kitchen
    and have worked professionally cooking for others
    but I have never made doughnuts
    I’ve made strawberry soup and Jack Daniels truffles by hand
    but never doughnuts…go figure
    So when I saw how simple the ingredients were
    I was not scared one bit to just go for it
    I decided at 10:00 pm I had to try it
    but I wasn’t getting out the mixer,
    I wasn’t waiting for the milk and butter to temper
    and I couldn’t find my flour sifter
    see where I’m going with this…
    and couldn’t find my nutmeg
    so I halved the amount and used cinnamon
    I was trying to surprise the kids
    so I was mixing and looking
    trying to hide what I was doing and I didn’t get the mixing order quite right either
    I put the butter and cream cheese together and softened up for about 20 seconds in the micro and warmed the milk separately
    totally not what it says to do. I used a whisk to mix everything
    ended up way to thin and had to add flour till it was the right thickness
    I DID use a thermometer for the oil, I used vegie oil and it tastes pretty good- not my first choice but deff doable
    I started off making them way to big
    quarter size of dough is all you need to drop, they expand a lot!
    I used two spoons, one to scoop the mix
    the other to push the dough off the spoon into the oil
    I burnt a few, under cooked a few, but for a first try and so many reasons for this to fail, they turned out pretty good and the kids were begging for more! they will be gone at breakfast tomorrow for sure!
    I saw some people were asking about how many this makes
    If you hand drop about quarter sized bits of dough you will get around 30-36
    This will be a keeper in my rotation for sure!!
    thank you great and super easy recipe!

    • joepastry says:

      Now THAT’s what I call improvisation! Great story Julz, so glad it worked so well!

      - Joe

  12. Pam Robbins says:

    I want to know if this recipe can be doubled or tripled with good results? Thanks

    • joepastry says:

      Oh my yes. I used the recipe commercially. It can be scaled up to…whatever. You’ll want to cut the baking powder down by about 10% every time you double it, but that’s pretty much it!

      - Joe

  13. JO D'SOUZA says:

    Hi. I am living in Australia and are looking for a great organic donut recipe to put in a Belshaws doughnut machine. Can anyone help? Regards Jo

  14. April JoHanson says:

    Nilsa says:
    06/13/13 at 3:26 am

    They were in Long grove Illinois.

    We too loved those donuts!!

    Thank you so much for your recipe, Joe. I just recently found your website and I am going to spend more time looking around. These donuts were amazing!! I would like to try your cake “high ratio yellow and chocolate cake layers under the Pastry Components menu.” Thanks again!!

    Oh, did you ever get a chance to come up with a chocolate donut? I tried a favorite cake recipe of mine and it was a DISASTER!

    • joepastry says:

      Hey April! Very glad they worked for you!

      I did not do a specific chocolate cake doughnut recipe, but either the high-ratio yellow or high-ratio chocolate cake layer recipes should work for doughnuts, provided you’ve got the right amount of liquid in there. Too runny and you’ll get more like a funnel cake, too little and it’ll be more like a hushpuppy. You’ll want to experiment a little dropping spoonfuls into the oil and seeing how they turn out. What happened with your other cake recipe?

      - Joe

  15. April JoHanson says:

    First of all, thank you so much for the quick response!!

    Well, first a little background, if I may. We just purchased a Belshaw Mark 2 and with that we received some mix from _______(I don’t know if I can say or not), and some vegetable shortening. Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil was the main ingredient.

    Either the mix or the oil was leaving a bad after taste so I switched to coconut oil to see if it was the oil. Coconut oil was a FAIL. It left too much oil in the doughnut so I thought the oil was too cold. When we turned up the temperature just beyond 375 degrees, it was still the same. We then turned the machine off because the oil was starting to smoke and we didn’t want a fire.

    After talking to a company who sells oils, he told me that coconut oil would never have worked because of the low melting point. So we switched to palm oil. I am very happy with the oil!! And after using your recipe, the doughnuts tasted very fresh with no after taste.

    Now I have to say that with your recipe “Vanilla Cake “Drop” Donuts”, I switched the milk to water and the butter to coconut oil for a few reasons.

    1. Because I am thinking about price per donut a little bit.

    2. Because I can’t eat dairy products. I makes my hay fever return and it’s miserable!

    I am going to try your recipe exactly the way it is written for my family and as a comparison.

    When I tried my chocolate cake recipe, I didn’t clean out the hopper from the previous batch. There was only a little left and since I am trying all kinds of recipes, I didn’t think that it mattered for us right now.

    So we dropped maybe 2 donuts from the previous batch and when my chocolate batter came through, it just spread out like crazy in the oil and it seemed to start to burn. So we cut the dropper off and let those crazy guys finish out. The chocolate left a lot of “crumbs” so we had to turn off the machine and strain the oil. No big deal.

    I tried another cake recipe of mine and it was a fail also!! So now I am going to try your cake recipes!!

    One question, if I still have your attention. I would like to make the Vanilla Cake “Drop” Donuts x’s 8 to fill up the hopper so……..when we decrease the baking powder by 10% every time we double it, do we take 10% off of 4 t., then 10% off of each additional 2 t. x’s 6? This is a little confusing to me.

    Thank you sooo much for your time.

  16. Tory O says:

    Hi Joe!

    First off I just want to thank you for the great website– I took a huge leap and my very own doughnut shop opens this week, and your articles have been a great source of research and advice for me in my process. I still only kind-of know what I’m doing, but much more so with your help/recipes.. haha

    Two quick questions:
    I know you said you “scaled this recipe down” from your usual proportions. Would you be willing to post the original ratios? My recipe is loosely based on yours, and I want to make sure that my plans are correctly scaled up in reference to how yours works (it’s different enough that I want to verify my math…haha).

    Also, in re: wet-ingredient variations (squash puree, applesauce, melted chocolate, pistachio paste, etc.), what would you change in the recipe to accomodate the moisture change? We’ve all subbed-in pumpkin puree and ended up with leaden, too-wet products at some point in our lives. Would you swap it ounce-for-ounce with the sour cream? Add more flour/leavening? Etc.?

    Thanks so much for your help!

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Tory!

      I’ll email you a quantity sheet…don’t pay all that much attention to the yield (fluctuated wildly based on the extruder head I was using). Also, one thing I learned the hard way was that baking powder needs to be scaled down steadily as the batch size increases (about 10% every time the recipe doubles). That’s not reflected in the formulas. This thing was an evolving creation like yours is I’m sure, but the formulas should be reliable.

      As for the additives, I took out both flour and milk when I put in something like a fruit paste or pumpkin puree. This is going to sound silly, but the way I figured it was to make a paste of flour and water that was roughly equivalent in texture to the additive I was using, keeping track of the flour and water by weight. When I got to something that was about the same feel, I simply subtracted that amount of flour and milk from the recipe!

      It worked for the most part!

      - Joe

    • Kari says:

      Hi! me and my husband are also starting a donut company and have been trying all types of cake and raised donut recipes – HUGE favor – can you forward (email) me the cake recipe scaled up and the yeast donut recipe scaled up that you decided to use for your donut company? THANK YOU!!

      • joepastry says:

        I’ll have to look for those. Not sure how much of that info I have anymore. But I’ll check!

        - Joe

  17. Jim Slusher says:

    I’ll start by saying, I’m about to overuse the word “drizzle”.

    I wasn’t able to get the spoonable consistency with the batter, so I presume I used too much milk. However, mi kids and I improvised and simply drizzled the thin batter into the oil and turned it over at about 1-2 minutes. The thin batter will actually cook pretty fast so it took more than 1 try since the first batch was very much overcooked. We took the icing and just drizzled it over the now cooked “stringy” looking batter and it tasted great! We decided to call them “Whapadoodles” pronounced, wha-pa-doo-dills.

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Jim!

      Sort of a cake doughnut funnel cake it sounds like! Glad you were pleased with the results in any event.


      - Joe

  18. Nancy lacher says:

    Thank you for this recipe! I’ve been trying to recreate donuts I ate on vacation in the outer banks from a shop called Duck Donuts. These are the closest I’ve come. I do have one problem- when I made them the underside (the side that’s in the oil first) turns out ok, but the top busts open creating bulbus forms or when flipped creates a fritter type texture. I stuck to your recipe- except I had to add 1 Tablespoon more milk because the batter was to thick to come out of my non- professional extruder. I am also using unbleached gold metal AP flour. Any ideas? Thanks so much!

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Nancy!

      Are you at a high altitude by any chance? Try cutting the baking powder back by about 15%…just a little in other words…I think that will fix the problem.

      - Joe

  19. Ron Phelan says:

    I use to own a Dunkin’ Donut and for what it is worth, re: taking temps…Can’t tell your readers how very important it is to do this one thing every time no matter how you do it! The magic number for us was 210 and it was computed by first taking the room temp and adding that reading to the mix (or temp of the dry ingredients then subtracting that total from 210. that will give you the temp that the wet ingredients should be for perfect products every time. The mixed result prior to frying should give you a dough temp at or near 70 degrees every time. Some bakers didn’t bother and the result was total inconsistancy. Started another small shop here in Seward, Alaska just because I miss the business a little. Keep frying!

    • joepastry says:

      Fabulous stuff, Ron. Didn’t know a big operation like Dunkin faced the same sorts of temperature issues. But it makes a whole lot of sense!

      Thanks very much for weighing in on this!

      - Joe

    • Kari says:

      boy Ron – do you have any other tips for us – we are starting a donut company and need all the advice we can get

      • joepastry says:

        Gosh there are so many things. If I had to boil it down to one key thing I’d say: temperature. It’s the most crucial thing for any doughnut maker, regardless of whether you’re using mixes or making them from scratch, since you’ll get very different results from even mild swings in temperature. That being the case a climate-controlled kitchen is pretty essential. Also I’d suggest trying the high ratio layer cake recipes as an alternative to these butter cake-type ones. They’re less expensive to make and possibly more in line with what typical consumers expect. If you’d like to have a pow-wow about all this we can talk by phone since there’s a lot to consider!


        - Joe

  20. Will C. says:

    I was really craving a good cake doughnut here recently, and doughnut shops around here are abysmal and not worth the 25 min drive to purchase them. I ran into this recipe just out of curiosity. After reading it, I realized that I had everything that I needed to make the batter. So I figured what the hell. I must say that they were some of the best doughnuts that I have ever had. Thanks..

    • joepastry says:

      You made my day, Will!

      Nothing like a home made doughnut right out of the oil, no? Thanks very much for getting back to me about it!


      - Joe

  21. Patti Carlsen says:

    Hi Joe! thanks for all of the tips- they are really great.
    We did have a problem when doing this recipe (we are beginners when it comes to doughnuts.) Our oil was at a temp of 380 and we did the drop method in a fry pan (2 in canola oil). 45 seconds per side. They came out too gooey in the center but the outside was perfect. Any suggestions?
    Thanks so much!

    • joepastry says:

      Hi Patti!

      It could be a few things. The batter might be too cool while the oil is too hot. In that case it’d take extra time for the interior to cook up. Or maybe the doughnuts you’re extruding are too big. Either way try dropping your oil temperature to help ensure that heat has time to penetrate all the way through before the outside crisps!

      Keep it up and thanks for the question!

      - Joe

  22. Nan says:

    Hello Joe,

    I am on the donut trail and was very well helped by the info your site provided. I tried the high ratio cake recipe for cake donuts. They made a great cake but soaked oil when I attempted to fry them as mini donuts. I was wondering if the flour had to be changed to all purpose flour or pastry flour?Should the mixing method stay the same if using the hi ratio yellow cake for mini donuts? Thanks you for the tips!

  23. Nan says:

    Thanks Joe for the great info and recipe!. Does the sour cream here count as fat or liquid? I wanted to know how to substitute for sour cream if I dont have any around. Thanks!

  24. maximillian says:

    hey joe by chance i came by your post i’v been looking for this recipe high and low. I simply thought it was a commercial thing and nobody is going to share, man i was wrong just reading your feedbacks gave me the confidence in you it also got me thinking there are people with a heart thks joe. Oh i have not tried it yet will pass it to me wife and let you know the outcome thks again.

    • joepastry says:

      Hello Maximillian!

      You are right that cake doughnut recipes are not as common as raised doughnut recipes. The reason is because you need specialized equipment to produce rings of batter. However you can easily make “drop” doughnuts from cake doughnut batter by carefully dropping spoonfuls of batter into the oil. Have fun and let me know what you think!

      - Joe

  25. Eric W. says:

    Hi Joe,

    Thank you so much for sharing your expertise – what an invaluable resource! I’ve been serving Lil’ Orbits Mini Donuts over the past few years with much success but now have an event organizer requesting I serve a “full-size” cake donut as well. I can easily switch out the hopper/extruder on my machine to drop the larger donut but I’m really conflicted on what to make the batter out of. Do you have any insight on using the Lil Orbits mix for a full size donut? We’d be doing some pretty high volume so I’m a bit nervous about a “scratch” recipe although I think it would produce a better quality product. Any suggestions/insight you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank You!!

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Eric!

      Nice to meet you. I’d say that if you’ve got a bankable process going you should stick with it. If the die for your machine will produce a full-sized doughnut and you have your times and temperatures down, do it. The batter should work no sweat. Scratch doughnuts are great but you’d need to put some R&D time into them if you wanted to do a few hundred, since they’re fussy in their own way. I make doughnuts both with this recipe and the high ratio yellow cake and chocolate cake recipes (both under “cake layers). I cut the liquid on the high ratio recipes back by 1/3 and adjust from there according to what the extruder likes. Actually I should formalize though recipes and put them in this section!

      Best of luck to you with the project!

      - Joe

      • Eric W. says:

        Thanks so much Joe – I will try the Lil’ Orbits mix first and see how it works. I appreciate your quick response and willingness to help. Thanks again!

  26. Desire says:

    How come it’s only 1 cup of flour? 8 ounces? isn’t very many doughnuts is this. A small recipe or a typo

    • joepastry says:

      Hey there Desire,

      This recipe is scaled for a small batch of “drop” doughnuts, i.e. small nuggets you make by simply spooning small quantities of batter into the oil. If you have a cake doughnut depositor you’ll want to at least quadruple this as it says in the recipe.

      Let me know how they go!

      - Joe

    • joepastry says:

      Oh, but 8 ounces is more like a cup and a half of flour…it’s more than you might think! ;)

      - Joe

  27. Riyadi says:

    Dear Joe,
    I used depositor to do your recipe but only one side of cake donut look good and another side always broken (not smooth). What happen with my batter ?

    • joepastry says:

      Hello Riyadi!

      It’s not unusual for the bottoms of the doughnuts to have cracks, In fact it’s normal. That said, if the bottom sides are cracking to the point that they’re almost falling apart, that’s a problem. Is that what is happening?

      - Jim

  28. Casey says:

    Hi Joe!

    I am in the process of opening a donut shop and the head chef and I are working really hard on trying to develop a “drop” chocolate cake recipe from scratch. The process has been trying. We’ve found great flavors, but each batch had a great deal of heavy oil absorption. Any thoughts on what we might be able to do to fix the issue? And have you had any success in developing a drop chocolate cake recipe of your own?

    • joepastry says:

      Hi Casey!

      I’ve had several requests for a chocolate cake doughnut over the years but honestly I have never really focused on it. As you’ve found out, just adding cocoa doesn’t work. The problem with cocoa is that it’s so absorbent. If you put in enough to actually taste you’ve really got a sponge on your hands. So I’m not surprised to hear that you’re getting extra oil intrusion. I made a mental note to try adding bar chocolate to my recipe if I ever tried it again. Have you experimented with that route? Adding melted Baker’s or something like that to the batter?

      Let’s keep the conversation going on this, because it’s a lapse on my part that I’ve been meaning to correct.

      - Joe

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