Old Fashioned Cake Doughnuts




About: Professional maker and eater of food. Donuts.. Cheese.. Chocolate.. Beer.. these are a few of my favourite things! @karakabangpow

Old fashioned doughnuts are my go to recipe for a quick treat after dinner or for breakfast. It's fast to throw together and hard to mess up. It makes about a dozen good sized cake doughnuts. I've included a basic glaze recipe, but they are just as good plain dunked in hot coffee, or rolled in cinnamon sugar straight out of the fryer. They're not too sweet, and the nutmeg gives it an old timey taste. I've also included directions for turning these into superstar sour cream doughnuts!

Old Fashioned Cake Doughnuts
Yield: 12 medium sized donuts + holes
Time: 30-45 minutes
Cost: <10


- large bowl
- medium bowl
- heavy bottomed pot suitable for deep frying
- spider, slotted spoon or tongs
- chopsticks or two spoons
- rolling pin
- cookie cutters, 3" for the shape and 1" for the holes
- cooling rack
- tea towel


- 2 ½ cups flour + more for dusting
- ½ cup white sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ½ cup butter, melted

For old fashioned sour cream doughnuts, sub sour cream thinned out with a tbsp or two of water for the buttermilk in the recipe. For a sour cream glaze, sub in sour cream for the melted butter + 1 squirt of lemon juice


Combine dry ingredients.

Mix wet ingredients into dry.

Knead until dough comes together. Roll out ¾ inch thick and fry at 375 degrees.

If you don't have buttermilk, you can use a milk with a tbsp of lemon juice like I have here. You can also use sour cream thinned out with a little bit of water, or even yoghurt.


4 cups icing sugar

¼ cup butter, melted

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp honey

Hot Water

Sift icing sugar into a medium sized bowl.
Add honey ,melted butter and vanilla to icing sugar and mix.
Add hot water until desired consistency is achieved, while mixing well.

Step 1: Doh!

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, nutmeg, baking soday & baking powder and set aside.

Add the melted butter and beaten egg into the buttermilk and beat immediately together. 

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix together with a large rubber spatula, just until they come together.

Dough should be thick enough to roll out. If for some reason your dough looks far too sticky, add a little more flour and mix just enough to combine it.

** If you don't have buttermilk, you can use a milk with a tbsp of lemon juice like I have here. You can also use sour cream thinned out with a little bit of water, or even yoghurt. You just want a dairy product for richness and for it to be acidic enough to set off the baking soda.

Step 2: Pat, Roll and Punch Out

Liberally flour a clean work surface and turn the dough out onto it.

Give the dough a fold so it comes together in one mass.

Lightly flour the the top of the dough if its sticky, and press it flat.

Use a rolling pin to make the dough an even 3/4 inch thick all around.

Using cutters dipped in flour, cut the doughnut shapes with the 3" cutter, followed by the holes with the 1" cutter.

Lift carefully and place on a tray.

You can re-roll the scrap dough you have left, just gently pat it back together and cut out more doughnuts.

Step 3: Frying Cake Doughnuts 101

Prepare your frying set up.

Place a large, heavy pot on the stove and clip a deepfry/candy thermometer to the side of the pot with the probe pointing to the middle.

Pour 2-3 inches of oil in and set the pot over medium heat. I like to use canola, because of its high smoke point and it doesn't effect the taste. My absolute favourite for frying is lard, but you can use any oil with a high smoke point.

The goal is to get the oil to reach 375°F and it is important to watch the pot at all times to maintain that temperature.

If you have a deep fryer, you're a lucky devil, just set it to 375°.

Next to the stove or stand alone deep fryer, set up a cooling rack over a cookie sheet covered with a tea towel or a paper towel to catch drips and make clean up easier. It's best to set the fresh fried doughnuts onto a rack instead of directly onto a towel because the towel will suck up any excess oil but the doughnut will then be sitting in it, and you'll get the dreaded Soggy Bottom. 

Make sure to have your preferred tools for flipping and remove the doughnuts from the oil ready. Tongs, a spider, chopsticks, or a sturdy, all metal strainer will all work.

Fry at 375 degrees. I fry most doughnuts at around the 360 mark, but I like to keep the oil hotter for cake doughnuts because they are heartier and can take the heat without burning. More importantly, it keeps the time they are floating in the oil to a minimum, so their cakey texture doesn't soak up any grease.

** If you find yourself frying without a thermometer, you'll have to be extra observant. Keep a scrap piece of dough or an ill formed doughnut hole and throw it in as a tester. It should bubble and fizz as soon as it hits the oil, but and be cooked on that side in 10-20 seconds for a small piece of dough. If it burns in that time, turn off your heat and wait 5-10 minutes for the oil to cool down. Generally if your oil is hot enough to do that, it's already starting to smoke anyway, so you'll know to turn it down.**

Once the oil has reached 375°F, begin to add the doughnuts, one at a time by sliding them carefully into the oil. Don't drop them in or you'll have screaming hot oil splash all over you. Cake doughnuts will sink to the bottom of the oil, then cook for a bit before rising up. Once the doughnut bobs to the surface, fry it for approximately 1 minute more before turning it with your chopsticks or tongs and fry for an additional 1-2 minutes on the other side. Only fry 3-4 at a time, overcrowding the pot will cause the temperature to drop and the doughnuts to suck grease.

Place the doughnuts on the prepared cooling rack. Break one open to ensure that it is cooked, and if additional time is needed, add the doughnuts back to the oil to finish and add a bit more cooking time for the rest. Fry the rest in similar fashion, and allow all of the doughnuts to cool.

If you've overworked your dough, you will see the pale tops of the doughnut split and crack open-- that's okay, just flip it at that point and finish frying. They will taste just as good when youre done, just with a tighter crumb and a crunchy top that looks oh so rustique.

If youve rolled your doughnuts thicker than 3/4" they will take longer to fry. Pull one out when you think it should be done, wait 5 minutes for it to finish off cooking and become cool enough to handle. Break it open. If its still gooey inside, keep the next ones in 20-30 seconds longer.

Step 4: Ways of the Glaze

This is a basic semi-clear glaze that is easy to make and will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks if you have extra.


- 4 cups icing sugar
-¼ cup butter, melted
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 tbsp honey
- hot water

Sift icing sugar into a medium sized bowl.

Add honey, melted butter and vanilla to icing sugar and mix.

Add hot water a tbsp at a time until desired consistency is achieved, while mixing well.

Dip your doughnuts into the glaze, and sit on cooling rack to harden.


If you would like a coloured glaze, add in your liquid colour before you add the hot water.

If your glaze is too stiff, add more hot water. If your glaze is too runny, add more sifted icing sugar and stir in well until it's the consistency you desire.

For sprinkle doughnuts, make sure to add them on right away once they doughnut is dipped before the glaze hardens and they just bounce off its impenetrable sugar armor of goodness.

For a sour cream glaze, sub in 1/4 cup sour cream thinned with a tbsp of lemon juice for the melted butter.

For a chocolate glaze, replace 1 cup of the icing sugar with 1 cup of good quality cocoa powder.

For a coffee glaze, use hot coffee instead of hot water.

Additionally, you can add in any flavours like almond extract, kentucky bourbon, or orange zest.



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    22 Discussions


    3 years ago

    hi great recipe i was just wonderin if you are from new zealand because those a mostly nz brands thanks again kitws


    4 years ago

    I had high hope for these, but they were mediocre at best. The dough was very sticky, it absorbed way too much of the oil, and tasted only so-so. Perhaps with some tweaking they can live up to some of the other reviews, but the recipe as is was a disappointment. .

    3 replies

    Reply 4 years ago

    Hi Catcord, Im sorry you didnt make a good batch! Were you using a thermometer for your oil? If your oil is too low, its going to just sit and soak up the oil like crazy. You want it to be between 365-375F so they are only in for about 30 seconds each side. Also frying too many at a time will cool down your oil. The dough should also be quiet dry, like a biscuits dough, maybe you added a bit too much liquid. I hope you give them another go, because they are really nice and quick, Ive never been let down by them.


    Reply 4 years ago

    I have a temperature setting on my fryer so yeah the oil temp was fine. I added more floor so it wasn't as sticky and doughy. My guess is 1 cup of buttermilk doesn't always equal one cup of doctored milk. For example, when making buttermilk biscuits with lemon juice/milk I use 1 cup as opposed to the 11/4 cup buttermilk. As far as frying too many, I only did one at a time and I tried to make them a little smaller too, just in case. As I said in my earlier review, this recipe needs some tweaking and I'm sure it'll be okay. I'll let you know if I make adjustments and try again.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Omg my family loved these!! So easy to make and doesn't take long either..I do have a question... I read you can store the glaze in the refrigerator for a alittle while, but can you store the dough, already pre made, in the refrigerator for a day til I'm ready to fry it? Thanks!

    6 replies

    Aw man Im so glad your family liked them! I dont know if youd be able to make the dough ahead of time, I have a feeling it might get soggy. What I have done in the past is mix the dry ingredients in one container, and the wet in another. When I want to make them I put the dry in a bowl and mix the wet in and then you have your dough in about 3 minutes!


    Batters and doughs with baking soda dont generally keep very well, as its activated by the acid in the buttermilk and will be used up by the time you go to fry'er up. Freezing is interesting though, let me know how that goes! With yeast doughs freezing is a great option but Im not sure about this one. Also have you tried Scoochmaroo's yeasted crispy creme doughtnut recipe? Its INSANELY killer, you should give it a try you might have luck with it!



    Oh OK, I did not know that lol...thanks for sharing..also I saw the krispy kreme one first and was going to make that one but when I saw yours, I changed my mind since I do not have luck with yeast rising haha.. I don't know if I'm putting too hot of water with the yeast or what but I can never get things to rise correctly... I might give it a try one more time...again thanks so much for taking your time out and replying!


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Oh, I have a hard time with yeast rising doughs as well. A trick my dad taught me, other than making sure you have the correct temperature of the water or milk you're adding is to make sure the yeast has something to eat which would be, sugar! If you have a recipe that, for example, calls for a 1/2 cup or a whole cup of sugar than once you add the correct temperature liquid into the yeast, add a couple of tablespoons of the sugar you measured out. Then leave it alone so the yeast can do its thing. If you smell that wonderful fresh bread kind of smell than you know you did good but if you get the smell like something died, yep I've had that happen, you know you killed the yeast. I remember I did everything right with the temperature and everything but I forgot to put in sugar and basically starved the yeast out. Also big thing, you do not want to put active yeast next to salt, apparently that will deactivate yeast and kill it. Something I didn't know either, so when I measured my dry ingredients and salt was last, I added the yeast on top of the salt and kaput, all that effort and product ruined. So if you try a yeast project, put the salt on the bottom and the rest of the dry ingredients on top before you add the yeast that way the yeast doesn't touch the salt until everything gets mixed together and by that time the yeast will merged with everything else. I make sure that whenever I have a project where yeast is involved I have all the steps for proper yeast handling in front of me and follow to a 'T' because yeast is apparently temperamental. Just a few tricks in case you or anyone needs them and doesn't have them. If anyone has any other tricks I'd also love to read them.


    I found you can refrigerate and freeze dough in an air tight container but I believe it's dough with yeast... I might play with a batch one time and try to pre cut, layered in wax paper, in an air tight container to see one day lol.... I love that these do not need yeast for the rising process because I don't do well with those recipes :) thanks again!!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    They look just like my Grandmas recipe except she used soured milk (milk with a teaspoon of vinegar).
    These are so good with coffee when they dry out some, they just melt in your mouth.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Oh I know! I like them better the next day, when they harden up a little more and the texture becomes.. pretty much irresistible. Being likened to someones grandma is the best compliment ever also, thank you!

    Penolopy Bulnick

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    You were able to stop at six!?! I don't think I would have the willpower with these sitting in my kitchen!