Sweet browned butter cinnamon cake layered with fresh apple compote and cream cheese frosting? This Apple Cider Donut Cake is the perfect dessert for autumn. It will remind you of those farm fresh apple cider donuts coated in cinnamon sugar and warm from the fryer. It is low carb, sugar-free, gluten-free, and keto-friendly.
There are some recipes I develop entirely so I can eat them. When I saw Milkbar's Apple Cider Donut Cake floating around on Instagram, I was dying to try it. But besides being full of carbs and sugar, it is also a bit pricey to get baked goods overnighted from fancy bakeries. So I decided to take their idea, simplify it, and make it low carb, gluten free, and sugar free. And then eat it.
It was the right choice and one that I would make over and over again. Not only was this cake moist and flavorful, but it was literally comfort food and happiness in every single bite.
I'm over the moon happy with how this turned out, and I love that I was able to make it so that everyone who has special diet needs can eat it.
You're going to be making the cake, filling, and frosting homemade - but don't worry. It's a fast process to do!
For the apple cider donut cake:
- Almond flour - Almond flour is my top flour choice when baking keto. It has a tender crumb and a subtle almond flavor.
- Coconut flour - Adding in coconut flour balances the oiliness of the almond flour and gives a nice texture to the cake.
- Browned butter - This ingredient is prevalent in French baking recipes. It is simply butter that has been cooked until it is brown.
- Sour cream - When you add sour cream, it adds extra moistness to your baked goods.
- Coconut milk - Almond milk works too.
- Brown sugar sweetener - A simple sweetener that you can use to replace brown sugar.
- Eggs - I generally use regular old large eggs, but any will do.
- Vanilla - Just a little bit of vanilla extract goes a long way.
- Caramel extract - This adds brown coloring and a sweet caramel taste.
- Cinnamon - Just a dash to give a hint of cinnamon.
- Nutmeg - Nutmeg adds warmth to the cake. Alternatively, you can add your favorite spices such as an apple pie spice blend.
- Baking powder - Adding this makes the apple cider donut cake less dense. It helps cakes to rise.
- Salt - Minimal salt is needed for this recipe since you are adding browned butter.
For the filling:
- Apples - I like to use Macintosh apples since they cook down easily, but you can use whatever you'd like.
- Joy Filled Eats Sweetener - This is the sweetener that is my go-to during baking.
- Butter - Regular salted butter is fine. It helps balance the sweetness.
- Cinnamon - A sprinkle of cinnamon paired with the apples is perfection.
- Xanthan gum - Adding this makes a thicker filling.
For the frosting:
- Cream cheese - Room temperature cream cheese works best.
- Salted butter - Using salted butter helps balance the sweetness in the cream cheese icing.
- Powdered erythritol - This replaces the powdered sugar normally used in frosting.
How To Make Apple Cider Donut Cake
This cake recipe is the perfect fall dessert or could be a great pairing with your coffee during brunch.
Step One: Gather the ingredients needed to make this simple cider cake recipe. (Measurements and detailed directions are listed below in the printable recipe)
Step Two: Mix together the dry ingredients and browned butter in a medium bowl until mixed well. Add the eggs, coconut milk, and sour cream until well combined. It will have a slightly grainy texture but should be moist enough that it sticks together.
Once blended, add to a parchment-covered baking sheet and press it out to cover it entirely. Make sure to get the mixture to be as even as possible when you're spreading it out.
Bake until the cake is firm to the touch and golden brown.
Step Three: Cook the sliced apples in a skillet with the butter and other added ingredients. You're just going to be browning them, so this should only take a few moments of time.
You'll know that they're cooked down once the apples become smaller and size and the mixture starts to thicken.
Step Four: Use a cake ring and cut out three circles from the baked cake. You will get two whole circles and 2 half circles. The half circles will be the bottom layer.
Step Five: Make the cream cheese icing by mixing the butter, cream cheese, and powdered sweetener in a large bowl with an electric mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Step Six: Time to layer! After the first cake layer (the two half circles), add on ⅓ of the apple filling. Make sure that you're reserving enough to repeat this process several times.
Step Seven: After adding on the apple filling, next comes a layer of cream cheese frosting. Again, be sure to separate it so that you have enough to repeat this step. Repeat the layers twice more: cake, apples, frosting, cake, apples, frosting.
Step Eight: Chill the cake for at least 2-3 hours before removing the cake ring and plastic.
There's no denying the beauty of this apple cider doughnut cake! Those layers mean that with every spoonful or forkful of this easy cake recipe, you're going to be getting every single flavor possible. Who wants a bundt cake with yellow cake mix by Betty Crocker when you can have all these layers and have it be gluten free and sugar free?
It just doesn't get much better than that. You can even just make this and dig right in - it's that good. Sometimes, being an adult means that you can have your cake and eat it, too! And go ahead and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of your piece of apple cider donut cake.
How do you make browned butter?
To make the browned butter, simply cook the butter in a small saucepan or medium saucepan over medium heat for about 5 minutes until golden and fragrant. Small browned bits will form at the bottom, and the top will be foamy. You do not want the melted butter to go all the way to a full boil so keep the heat on medium.
How do you store this apple cider donut cake?
If you're lucky enough to have leftovers, store this simple cake recipe in the fridge until you're ready to eat it again.
Can you make this apple cider donut cake ahead of time?
You can! If you're running low on time, you can prep and make this cake the day before and have it ready and waiting in the fridge.
What are the best apples to use when making desserts?
This really all depends on what you like. There are so many varieties of apples that this can really vary a lot. For example, I used Macintosh apples for this recipe, but some people really like to use gala apples or even red delicious apples, too.
And if you're a fan of tart apples, granny smith could always be an option as well.
Do you need to peel the apples before cooking?
Yes, I highly recommend peeling the apples for this apple cider donut cake recipe. To get them to cook down properly, you're not going to want to have a peeling attached.
You can save those peels, though and cook them up like my mom used to back in the day. A bit of butter and cinnamon, and sugar with the apple peels in the skillet is an enjoyable treat to make!
- 2 cups almond flour
- ⅓ cup coconut flour
- ½ cup browned butter
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup coconut milk from a carton, or almond milk
- ½ cup brown sugar sweetener or ½ teaspoon molasses mixed into a white sweetener
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon caramel extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
Apple Cinnamon Filling
- 2 cups macintosh apples peeled and sliced (or chayote squash for keto)
- ½ cup Joy Filled Eats Sweetener (or see alternatives in recipe notes)
- 2 oz butter
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 3 tablespoon salted butter
- 1 cup powdered sweetener
- Preheat oven to 350. Line a quarter sheet pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
- Combine the dry ingredients and browned butter in a medium bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients for the cake batter and mix well. Spread in the prepared pan.
- Bake for 17-20 minutes or until golden in color and firm to the touch.
- Meanwhile, combine the apples, sweetener, butter, and cinnamon in a small saucepan.
- Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the apples start to soften. If using a different variety of apples this may take longer. Mix in the xanthan gum and cook for 2-3 more minutes until it thickens.
- Mix the butter, cream cheese, and powdered erythritol with an electric mixer until fluffy.
- Cut 2 six-inch circles and two half circles with the cake ring. Please look at the photo of this within the blog post.
- Place the cake ring on your serving plate of choice. Line the cake ring with the plastic cake collar as shown.
- Place the two half circles of baked cake in the bottom of the lined cake ring. Top with ⅓ of the apple compote. Then top with ⅓ of the frosting by dropping spoonfuls all over and spreading gently with the back of a spoon.
- Repeat the layers two more times.
- Chill the cake for at least 2-3 hours before unmolding it and serving.