Cider, Yes -- Doughnut, Not So Much: Apple Cider Doughnut Loaf Cake

To me, when I see a baked item described as a "doughnut," it means one of two things. Either: 1) it's baked in a doughnut pan, so it has the torus shape of a doughnut; or 2) it has the plush, soft texture of a doughnut. If you're lucky, it means both. So when I saw Sarah Jampel's "Apple Cider Doughnut Loaf Cake" recipe, I had a very specific idea of what the end product should be: the flavor and texture of a cider doughnut in loaf form.
The recipe calls for you cook down cider to reduce to 50% of its original volume, but I decided to just to use Wood's Cider Mill boiled cider. It's reduced to one-seventh of its original volume, but I always have it on hand and I figured that it would both save time and create a more intense cider flavor in the finished product. To make the batter, I whisked eggs with sugar until pale; gradually added in melted butter; and alternately incorporate the dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, cinnamon, and grated nutmeg) and the remaining liquid ingredients (sour cream, boiled cider, and vanilla). I poured the batter into a parchment-lined 9-inch by 5-inch pan to bake.
The loaf baked up with an almost completely flat top. While it was hot, I poked holes all over the top of the loaf with a skewer and brushed on more boiled cider. I let the loaf cool briefly before turning it out of the pan, brushing the top and sides with a mixture of boiled cider and melted butter, and coating the loaf in a mixture of sugar, cinnamon, grated nutmeg, and salt. 

I waited until the cake was completely cooled to slice it and I could see that the boiled cider I had brushed on while the loaf was hot had settled in right at the top of the cake; perhaps I would have gotten better absorption with less concentrated cider. The loaf had the flavor profile of an apple cider doughnut, with my favorite part being the top of the loaf that was soaked in cider and coated with crunchy cinnamon-sugar. However, while the loaf was moist, it was not soft or plush; the texture was average. This cake was fine, but the texture was quite disappointing.
I wouldn't make this recipe again because I think there are better options available. If you are in the mood for something that delivers both the flavor and soft texture of a cider doughnut, I would recommend either Samantha Seneviratne's Apple Cider Whoopie Pies, or Erin McDowell's Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts.

Recipe: "Apple Cider Doughnut Loaf Cake" by Sarah Jampel, from Bon Appétit

Previous Posts: