Occasionally, I go through phases during which I have zero new baking ideas and I’m convinced that everything that can be done has already been done, and I have nothing to offer or add. Sometimes these periods last a few days and sometimes a week. Often, to fuel up my creative tank I’ll head over to pinterest or the instagram explore page and scroll mindlessly - usually getting distracted by funny memes or shopping ads.
One way I get inspiration is, strangely enough, from items that belong to my toddler. Maybe it’s because they are so colorful and cute? She has this beautiful lamp in her room with a shade made of a purple and teal ombre colors which I once turned into a buttercream effect on a layered cake. Awhile back, her and I made my hidden rainbow cake using colors from her favorite rainbow pillow (check it out on my instagram highlights - it was TOO cute!). More recently, I was trying to get her to wear any pajamas except her favorite donut pajamas which were dirty that day. I seriously think she might go to college in these pajamas! She is completely obsessed. During our negotiation, I looked over at the prized pjs in the pile of laundry and a bizarre thought came into my head: these would make a gorgeous cake.
The cake of course was going to look like the pajamas had been designed after it (not the other way around… lol), it would be pink, piled high with vanilla glazed donuts, sprinkled with funfetti, JUST like the pajamas. For flavor, I always want to create some kind of connection to the interior of the cake’s flavor so rather than making another chocolate or yellow cake, I took my usual vanilla cake recipe and turned it into a sort of old fashioned donut flavor, made with sour cream and fresh nutmeg. It’s SO GOOD.
This is a great cake for donut lovers (and I should know, I have birthed the biggest donut lover in history! And do you see her giving me a 10/10 in the above pic? Hehe). Every slice will have not only that lovely taste of a yummy old fashioned donut, but on top, a piece of a fried donut. Also - yeah, you’re gonna make a lot of mini donuts and only use a handful for the cake. Trust me when I say that nobody in your family is going to complain about all those extra donuts!!
I can see this cake being the perfect centerpiece for donut-loving birthday peeps, with lots of yummy donuts for guests to snack on while they wait for the candles to be blown. Thank you toddler world for adorable pajamas that inspire baked goods and that are probably going to be worn until they literally start falling off her =)
sour cream Donut Cake
There’s a few steps to this cake, and here’s my advice on how to manage your time efficiently: first, make the buttercream a day ahead or more. If it’s only a day, leave it at room temperature in an air-tight container. If more, store it in the fridge and leave it out for a few hours to soften before you use it. Second, make the cake. Store it, wrapped in plastic wrap and in an airtight container. If you aren’t using it the same day, store it in the freezer. The day before you want to serve the cake, make the donut dough as it needs to develop in the fridge overnight. The morning of, fry your donuts. Leave them to cool while you prep the cake with buttercream. Once the donuts are cool, make your glaze and decorate the donuts. Once the glaze is set, place them on the cake. Voila!
Sour Cream Cake
326g cake flour
333g fine granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sour cream
¼ cup milk
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Preheat oven to 325. Butter and flour two 8” x 3” cake pans or three 8x2” cake pans (see notes).
In the bowl of a stand-mixer, beat butter and sugar together for 5 minutes. Add salt, vanilla and nutmeg and beat for another 3 minutes.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating for at least a full minute to ensure incorporation.
Scrape the bowl and beat again.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt.
Add the dry mixture to the butter mix and beat on low to combine.
While the flour is incorporating, add the sour cream and milk. Scrape bowl to ensure your batter is fully blended.
Divide equally between two prepared pans. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until tester comes out clean.
Pink Vanilla Bean Buttercream
2 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened (20 TB)
3 cups organic powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
½ teaspoon salt
Drop of pink food coloring
Beat butter until light and fluffy, about 5-7 minutes.
Add vanilla and salt, beat for another 1-2 minutes.
Sift in organic powdered sugar and beat until well-combined.
Add food coloring and beat to combine.
Mini Donut recipe via The Vanilla Bean Blog:
Tips on making Sarah’s mini donuts:
If you measure your flour and are very precise, the dough will be very soft (and wonderfully so!) but also very sticky. Flour your surface really well before you roll out the dough, and before you transfer the cut donut to the parchment paper, gently dust its bottom in flour to avoid it sticking to the parchment paper.
Flouring your donut cutter between each cut will help keep it from sticking.
I don’t have a deep fryer so I did the dutch oven and (in my case) a laser thermometer method. I love my laser thermometers because it doesn’t go into the oil and so, less mess! One thing to keep in mind is that the oil will take time to get to 365 and sometimes with a dutch oven you want to be careful about temperature so as not to damage it. I turn mine on medium-low for about 10 minutes and then up to medium-high to get it to where I want it. It can take a full 15-20 minutes to get to the right temperature; don’t put any donuts in until you get it to 365.
I found that as many as four donuts at a time was more than enough to keep track of when frying - these cook fast!
Sarah is right - the dough you have to re-roll to cut will not be as pretty. Make sure you save the first ones for the cake!
Vanilla donut glaze
1 cup organic powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl and add the salt, vanilla, and milk, whisk to combine.
The glaze might seem thick and you may need to add more milk but be very careful adding, you want it quite thick - think elmer’s glue.
Dipping the donuts in face down results in a better coverage rather than spooning it on. Once you’ve dipped, lift it up and move it from side to side for full coverage.
Add sprinkles as soon as you have glazed your donuts - it sets fast.