Donut Flavored Layer Cake With Maple Buttercream Frosting

Light and fluffy donut cake layers frosted with maple buttercream and a pink drip. This donut cake really tastes just like a real donut fresh out of the fryer! The perfect cake for donut fans everywhere!
↓ Recipe Never Miss A Cake
Total Time: 45 mins
Serves: 8 cups
donut cake with hand holding slice

How to make donut cake that tastes just like a freshly made donut! Frosted with maple buttercream and pink donut icing drip. I was shocked how much this cake literally tastes just like a real donut.

I made this donut cake flavor for my gravity-defying squirrel tutorial but ended up LOVING the flavor of the cake so much, I had to make it into its own recipe!

What makes this donut cake taste like a donut?

The cake layers taste exactly like a real donut. The secret is using a little nutmeg, cinnamon, buttermilk, and what I like to call “donut fat”.  After frying my classic cake donut, I save the leftover shortening to replace some of the butter in my recipe. See those little brown bits? They are leftover browned bits of donut and when you add them to the cake batter it really adds a ton of flavor!

Now if you don’t have any leftover shortening from a recent batch of fried donuts, no worries, you can just use regular shortening or even all butter. I keep my donut fat frozen in the freezer until I need it.

I’m also using nutmeg as well as a little cinnamon in this donut cake which are classic spices you normally use in cake donuts.

Buttermilk gives the cake layers a delicious flavor and also adds lots of moisture and a velvety texture to the cake layers just like my white velvet buttermilk cake.

Donut cake ingredients

What is the reverse creaming method?

Before we get to the mixing, we should talk about why we are mixing in a way that might seem unfamiliar. We are mixing this cake using a process called the reverse mixing method. We will coat the dry ingredients in butter similar to when you make a shortbread cookie. The butter stops gluten from developing and gives our cake layers a velvety texture.

Then we add in the liquids and the eggs which aerate the cake batter and add structure.

With the reverse mixing method, we can add much more sugar and liquid to our cake batter than with traditional mixing methods resulting in a finer, moister and more delicately textured cake.

When you use the reverse creaming method it’s important to use cake flour which has less protein (gluten) than all purpose flour. If you use all purpose flour, your cake can end up with too much gluten development and a cornbread texture.

Donut cake recipe step-by-step

  1. Bring your ingredients to room temperature and I like to pre-measure all my ingredients so that I can just mix without pausing. donut cake ingredients shot from above in clear bowls
  2. Preheat your oven to 335º F and prepare three 6″x2″ cake pans with cake goop or any other preferred cake release.
  3. Combine 1/2 cup of the buttermilk and the oil together and set aside.buttermilk and oil in a measuring cup
  4. To the rest of the buttermilk, add the vanilla and the eggs. Whisk gently to combine and then set it aside. buttermilk and eggs in a measuring cup
  5. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment attached.  donut cake dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer
  6. While mixing on low, begin adding in your softened butter and donut fat in small chunks. Let it continue to mix until it resembles coarse sand. closeup of donut cake ingredients
  7. While mixing on low, add in your oil/buttermilk mixture and mix on medium speed for two full minutes to develop the cake’s structure.closeup of mixed donut cake batter
  8. Reduce the mixer to low and then slowly add in the milk/egg mixture. Continue mixing until everything is combined and your batter looks cohesive. Don’t worry about over-mixing, usually, people undermix. closeup of donut cake batter
  9. Divide the cake batter between your prepared cake pans and bake them for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out cleanly.donut cake batter in a cake pan on a scale
  10. Immediately after removing the cakes from the oven, gently press the dome down and brush the surface with melted butter. This adds even more flavor to the cake layers.brushing donut cake layer with melted butter
  11. Let the layers cool in the pan until the pan is barely warm, then transfer them to a cooling rack. You can flash cool in the freezer for 60 minutes if you want to decorate right away or wrap in plastic wrap and freeze to use later

Maple frosting recipe step-by-step

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachments attached, cream your butter until smooth.
  2. While mixing on low, begin adding in your powdered sugar one cup at a time until it’s all added. adding powdered sugar to creamed butter
  3. Add in the maple syrup, maple extract, vanilla extract, salt and white food coloring. Mix until it’s smooth.closeup of maple buttercream on a spatula

Pink donut drip

  1. Add the chocolate wafers to a bowl and microwave for 1 minute to soften.
  2. Pour the hot water over the top of the chocolate and let it sit for about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Whisk until smooth then add in your pink and white food coloring. melted white chocolate and water in a clear bowl
  4. Let the drip cool to 90ºF before using it so it doesn’t run down the side of the cake. thermometer checking the temp of pink chocolate

Cake assembly and decoration

If you need to learn more about how decorate your first cake, check out this tutorial.

how to make a cake tutorial
  1. I colored about 1 1/2 cups of my buttercream with some electric pink food coloring and a few drops of white food coloring.
  2. Frost and fill your layers with the pink layer and apply a crumb coat. donut cake layers with pink buttercream
  3. Place the cake in the fridge to chill for about 15 minutes.
  4. Apply the final layer of buttercream and smooth it with an offset spatula and bench scraper. cake with smooth buttercream
  5. Chill your cake again for 15 minutes. This is usually where I make my drip and let it cool down.
  6. I dipped a cake donut in the pink frosting (you can use one that you made or use a store-bought donut) and add some sprinkles. donut cake
  7. Drip the pink chocolate on top of the cake and add some more sprinkles.
  8. Then attach the donut with a cake pop stick or skewer to keep it standing up.closeup of donut cake

Cake Batter and Frosting Calculator

Select an option below to calculate how much batter or frosting you need. Adjust the servings slider on the recipe card to change the amounts the recipe makes.

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Cups of Batter Needed

8 cups

Cups of Frosting Needed

5 cups

Note: measurements are estimated based off the vanilla cake recipe using standard US cake pans and sizes. Measurements used are for 2" tall cake pans only. Your results may vary. Do not overfill cake pans above manufacturer's recommended guidelines.

Did You Make This Recipe?Leave a rating and tell me how it went!
donut cake with hand holding slice

Donut Flavored Layer Cake With Maple Buttercream Frosting

Light and fluffy donut cake layers frosted with maple buttercream and a pink drip. This donut cake really tastes just like a real donut fresh out of the fryer! The perfect cake for donut fans everywhere!
5 from 5 votes
Print Rate Never Miss A Cake
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 45 mins
Serves: 8 cups
Calories: 750kcal

Ingredients

Donut Cake Layers

  • 14 ounces (397 g) cake flour
  • 12 ounces (340 g) sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon (12 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) nutmeg
  • 3 large (150 g) eggs room temperature
  • 4 ounces (113 g) vegetable oil
  • 10 ounces (284 g) buttermilk slightly warm
  • 4 ounces (113 g) unsalted butter softend but not melted
  • 2 ounces (57 g) donut fat or crisco
  • 2 teaspoons (10 g) vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces melted butter for brushing onto baked layers

Maple Buttercream Frosting

  • 32 ounces (907 g) powdered sugar sifted
  • 16 ounces (454 g) unsalted butter softened
  • 2 ounce (28 g) maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon (5 g) maple extract
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) salt
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) white food coloring optional

Pink Drip

  • 6 ounces (170 g) white chocolate melts Guittard Vanilla A'Peels
  • 1 ounce (28 g) hot water
  • 2 drops electric pink food coloring
  • 2 drops white food coloring

Decorations

  • 1 large cake donut storebought or homemade
  • 2 Tablespoons rainbow sprinkles

Equipment

  • Three 6"x2" cake pans

Instructions

For The Cake

  • Preheat your oven to 335ºF and prepare three 6"x2" cake pans with cake goop or another preferred pan release. Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature.
  • Combine 1/2 of the buttermilk with the oil and set aside
  • To the remaining milk, add the eggs and the vanilla. Whisk to combine and set aside.
  • Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
  • While mixing on low, add in your chunks of softend butter and donut fat and mix until it looks like coarse sand.
  • While mixing on low, add in the buttermilk/oil mixture and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed to develop the cakes structure.
  • While mixing on low, slowly drizzle in the milk/egg mixture until combined and then mix for another 30 seconds until the batter looks cohesive and smooth.
  • Divide the cake batter into your three pans and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.
  • Immediately press the domes flat with a tea towel and then brush the surface of the cakes with the melted butter. Allow them to cool until barely warm in the pan then transfer to a cooling rack.
  • Flash freeze the cake layers for one hour before decorating

For the buttercream

  • Add the softened butter to the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment and cream until smooth.
  • While mixing on low, slowly add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time until it's all combined and smooth.
  • Add in your maple syrup, maple extract, vanilla, salt and food coloring and mix until smooth.

For the drip

  • Microwave the candy melts for 1 minute
  • Add the hot water to the candy melts and let them sit for 3-5 minutes.
  • Add in the food coloring and whisk to combine until smooth
  • Let the drip cool to 90ºF before using it on the chilled cake.

Decorating the donut cake

  • Color 1 1/2 cups of your buttercream pink
  • Fill your cake layers with about 1/4" of the pink buttercream
  • Crumbcoat your cake and chill it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes
  • Add the final layer of buttercream, smooth with an offset spatula and bench scraper. Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
  • Dip your donut in the pink frosting and add some sprinkles
  • Add the pink drip to the top of your cake and add some sprinkles.
  • Add the donut to the top of the cake with a cake pop stick or skewer

Notes

IMPORTANT: Make sure all your ingredients are at room temp and you’re using a scale to measure. Substituting ingredients may cause this recipe to fail. (see notes at the bottom of the recipe)
Important Things To Note Before You Start
1. Bring all your ingredients to room temperature or even a little warm (eggs, buttermilk, butter, etc) to ensure your batter does not break or curdle. 
2. Use a scale to weigh your ingredients (including liquids) unless otherwise instructed (Tablespoons, teaspoons, pinch etc). Metric measurements are available in the recipe card. Scaled ingredients are much more accurate than using cups and help ensure the success of your recipe. 
3. Practice Mise en Place (everything in it’s place). Measure out your ingredients ahead of time and have them ready before you start mixing to reduce the chances of accidentally leaving something out.
4. Chill your cakes before frosting and filling. You can cover a frosted and chilled cake in fondant if you wish. This cake is also great for stacking. I always keep my cakes chilled in the refrigerator before delivery for easy transporting. 
5. If the recipe calls for specific ingredients like cake flour, replacing it with all purpose flour and cornstarch is not recommended unless specified in the recipe that it’s ok. Substituting ingredients may cause this recipe to fail. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 750kcal (38%) | Carbohydrates: 75g (25%) | Protein: 5g (10%) | Fat: 35g (54%) | Saturated Fat: 25g (125%) | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 112mg (37%) | Sodium: 150mg (6%) | Potassium: 156mg (4%) | Fiber: 1g (4%) | Sugar: 76g (84%) | Vitamin A: 800IU (16%) | Vitamin C: 1mg (1%) | Calcium: 65mg (7%) | Iron: 1mg (6%)

3 comments on “Donut Flavored Layer Cake

  1. This cake looks fantastic and I just measured out all the ingredients to make this cake however the salt is not list in the ingredients so not sure how much salt to use! It is in the instructions on how to make but not the quantity. Please advise.

    Thank you

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