(Note: this post was originally published on November 5, 2020. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)
The Ultimate Fall Comfort Food
This cake was sort of a rogue experiment that I had no plans to share. But it was too perfect to keep to myself! It's like a big, cozy fall hug meets an apple cider donut, and it's exactly what these chilly fall days need.
My love of this cake is immense. It tastes exactly like the classic cider donuts that we love to get at our local apple orchard this time of year. Actually, dare I say, it might be even better because it's more moist and succulent, and it smells heavenly while it's baking. But it's easy to make at home (no scary home-frying involved!) and will take less than an hour from start to finish.
The flavors here are simple- apple, apple, and more apple, with a lovely delicate sweetness from brown sugar and maple syrup, and an addicting cinnamon-sugar topping just like cider donuts. I was worried that it would seem too simple, but then I realized... why mess with a good thing? Classics are classic for a reason.
The inspiration for this cake came from a variety of different foodie Instagram accounts. I saw a few gorgeous "apple cider donut cakes" this fall, although most were in Bundt pans (which is fine, but they just take so long to bake!). Then I saw a gorgeous apple cider donut themed focaccia from my foodie friend Juan of @PlantBasedPonch (check out his feed for the most fun plant-based comfort food!), in which he put apple slices on top of a focaccia to mimic donuts. I was instantly smitten!
Instead of focaccia, I took Juan's idea and applied it to a variation of my go-to muffin recipe. I added apple cider and apple butter for flavor, a load of cinnamon, and a bit of brown sugar for that classic fall taste. The result was miraculous!
Easy... AND Better for the Body
This cake is absurdly easy to make. Just measure everything into a blender, blast it, pour it into a pan, and bake. It will take all of ten minutes to prep, another ~45 to bake, and a few minutes to cover with cinnamon sugar (the most important part!!). You'll have this gorgeous, sweet-smelling, comforting apple cider donut cake in an hour.
Nutritionally speaking, this cake gets all of its structure from oats and its moisture from apple cider, apple butter (which is basically just cooked down applesauce, it's not actual butter), and almond butter. Pretty darn nourishing! You'll see that I do use some brown sugar, as well as some cinnamon sugar, on top; it just wouldn't be a cider donut without those flavors. Although if you're really trying to avoid any sort of refined sugar, coconut sugar would be your best option.
Let's Talk Ingredients
Here's what you'll need for this recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
Apple. A really big one... I love honeycrisp!
Apple cider. Not apple juice!! They're very different things.
Apple butter. This is a super-flavorful apple product that's basically a more cooked-down, more spiced version of apple sauce. It's delightful! Get yourself some and put it on everything. Apple sauce will work instead, but the result won't be as flavorful.
Eggs. Note that I haven't (yet) tried this with flax eggs. I think it will work, but you'll have a slightly more dense cake since traditional eggs not only help with binding but also with loft. Please leave a comment below if you try it.
Brown sugar. Or use coconut sugar if you prefer a less processed option, although the flavor will be a little less decadent.
Butter. You'll use this to get the topping to stick to the top of the cake; vegan butter would work fine for a dairy-free option.
Granulated sugar. For that classic cinnamon-sugar vibe!
Going to the apple orchard is one of our favorite things to do in the fall; it's just such a classic New England experience! We love to wander around and look at all the different types of apples. Sometimes in the early fall we even bring a picnic to have at the orchard in the sun! And of course no visit is complete without some cider donuts; they're really the best part about going. Especially when they're still warm, which is how you'll want to engulf this cake!
Your fall really won't be complete until you make this cake. Eat it for breakfast! Pack it for a satisfying snack or lunch. Or dress it up with caramel sauce (and heat it up!!) for the most wonderful, cozy dessert treat.
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
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This cozy fall cake is loaded with all the flavors of an apple cider donut, but in a much better-for-the-body package. Fresh apples and a cinnamon-sugar topping make this the perfect breakfast treat or seasonal dessert during apple season.
Preheat the oven to 350 and oil an 8x8 baking dish with your oil of choice; I like a bit of melted coconut oil. Conversely, you can line the baking dish with parchment for guaranteed easy removal.
Cut a large apple into thin slices perpendicular to the core to make rings (see the photos in the post). Set aside the four nicest-looking slices. The rest of the apple will go into your cake batter.
Measure the wet ingredients into a blender; putting the wet ingredients in first prevents the dry ingredients from clumping below the blades.
Then, measure in the dry ingredients, including any leftover apple bits that you have.
Blend everything until you have a smooth, thick batter. If you have a high-power blender, this should only take a minute.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Use a spatula to scrape it all out of the blender, and to spread it into an even layer.
Place four big, pretty apple slices on top of the batter, removing the core from each.
Bake 40-45 minutes until a cake tester just barely comes out clean.
Melt the butter for the topping and brush it all over the top of the cake to help the cinnamon sugar stick. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon for the topping, then sprinkle it liberally across the cake quickly, before the butter soaks in.
Cut into squares and devour while still warm! Store any leftover cake in a container in the fridge.