While everyone else has visions of sugar plums (whatever those are!) dancing in their heads, we’ll be daydreaming about this apple cider doughnut cake recipe. It’s like an oversize version of the moist, fluffy farmstand doughnut, with a tender, softly spiced crumb and a brown butter icing to gild the lily. Serve the leftovers for breakfast—you have our permission.
Apple Cider Doughnut Cake with Brown Butter Icing
2 small sweet-tart apples (such as Honeycrisp or Pink Lady)—peeled, cored and chopped
1½ cups apple cider
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons half-and-half, plus more as needed
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a Bundt pan with nonstick spray.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the apples and apple cider. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook until the apples are completely soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Crush the apples with a potato masher or fork until completely mashed, then continue to cook the mixture until it’s reduced to 1 cup. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg to combine. Set aside.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the side of the bowl with a silicone spatula after each addition. Beat in the oil.
5. To the cooled apple mixture, add the milk and vanilla and stir to combine.
Add the dry ingredients to the mixer in 3 additions, alternating with the wet and scraping down the bowl after each addition.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for about 1 hour before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
7. Make the Icing: In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, swirling and stirring until the milk solids brown and it smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat and transfer to a small bowl.
8. Stir in the confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons of the half-and-half. Add more half-and-half, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the icing is thick but drizzly. Stir in a pinch of salt. Pour over the cooled cake before serving.
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