This old fashioned cake donut recipe creates cake donuts that are crispy on the outside and give way to a perfectly soft and cakey center, making these an amazing breakfast treat! We grew up eating these and they’ll always be a treasured family favorite.
Oh my word, you guys. I know that I gave myself the title of donut (doughnut?) queen, but really, the title goes to my grandma. I’m just the donut princess.
My grandma created the best dang cake donut recipe ever and I’ve been dying to share it with you. Anytime I make these, I get shot straight back to my childhood.
Visiting my grandma on vacation, waiting impatiently for her to fry up these unbelievable donuts, and then eating them until I’d make myself sick. She would often serve the donuts plain, straight from the fryer.
I prefer them tossed in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar, but powdered sugar or a glaze works great as well.
These are cake donuts, which means there is no waiting on yeast to do it’s thing.
Instead, the donuts have baking powder in them to help them rise.
You’ll love these donuts. I’m telling you – better than bakery donuts, by far!
How to make fried cake donuts:
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Use a stand mixer with a dough hook to beat together butter, sugar, and egg.
In a separate bowl, combine your flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt.
Knead the dough for a couple of minutes until it is workable. If it is too sticky still, you can add a tablespoon of flour at a time until it is workable.
Roll the dough out on a floured surface trying to make it a consistent thickness about 1/4″ thick. Use a donut cutter to cut the donuts.
Add the donuts to a pot of oil that is 375 degrees F. Add in as many as will fit without crowding the pan. Fry until golden which should take about 2 minutes on each side at the recommended temp.
When you remove the donut from the fryer, drain on a paper towel lined plate.
Toss each donut on a plate with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar that uses 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Coat both sides. Alternately, place the cinnamon and sugar in a brown paper bag and shake the donuts to coat.
Invest in a thermometer!
I know many people don’t like to fry, so here are my best tips. Invest in a thermometer! They cost about five dollars and are worth every penny.
You want to keep your oil at a consistent temperature so that your donuts don’t get too greasy. Greasy donuts means your oil isn’t hot enough! 375 degrees is perfect for these donuts.
Leftover grease ideas:
After you’ve fried the donuts, you can keep the oil covered for a week or two and use it for frying other foods.
We try to use oil that fried sweet foods for frying other sweet foods, and oil that fried savory foods for other savory foods.
If you don’t think you’ll re-use the oil, just let it cool completely and then use a funnel to pour it right back into your empty oil container or an empty milk jug. I try to keep a few empty milk jugs under my kitchen sink or in my pantry for used up oil.
Close the jug up tight and then toss it in your garbage can on garbage day. It’s a pretty simple way to deal with all that leftover oil!
The BEST Cake Donuts
- 2 tablespoons butter room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 3 cups flour more as needed
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Oil for frying
- Cinnamon Sugar mix for coating the donuts 1/2 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, beat together the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg.
- In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients.
- Alternate adding the milk and flour mixture until everything is well combined. Knead for just a couple of minutes. If the dough is too sticky to roll out, add more flour until it's workable, 1-2 tablespoons at a time.
- Roll the dough out on a floured surface until about 1/4 inch thick. Use a donut cutter to cut donuts.
- Add to a pot of 375 degree oil, just a few donuts at a time so as not to crowd the pan, and fry until golden, about 2 minutes each side.
- Drain on a paper towel lined plate before tossing in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.
- Serve immediately.
This recipe was originally published in February 2014. It was updated in February 2021.