Classic Cake Donuts might just be the MOST satisfying thing you could make for a sweet weekend breakfast! Dress them up with some sprinkles or just go for a simple vanilla glaze – the choice is yours! But I really don’t know how you’ll choose because any way you make these donuts, you’re gonna love ’em so much!

Classic Cake Donut with vanilla glaze. The donut is resting on a wire rack and it has a bite taken out of it. The donut's interior is cakey, dense, and totally delicious.

Donuts – or do you spell them doughnuts? – were never a big deal to me growing up. Well, scratch that.  Sorry.

Because we so rarely ever ate doughnuts, they were a HUGE thing to me and my brother as kids. But they certainly were a special occasion treat, like pool days at our friend Jarrod’s house.

Dude, those were the days!

We literally almost burst at the seams with excitement on those days – both about getting to swim for the day and about the Munchkins that taunted us sitting on my unbuckled lap…in the front seat of mom’s car.

Hey, it was the 80s – what can you do?

Classic Cake Donuts lined and stacked up on a wire rack. From left to right: cinnamon sugar, pink sprinkles, chocolate glaze, toasted coconut, rainbow sprinkles, vanilla glaze.

These days, as an adult, I won’t lie.

I still get pretty excited about both of these things. Pool swimming, chlorine and all, still rocks my adult world and donuts still send a thrill down my spine.

A few years ago Kyle and I found a nearby old-fashioned diner that sells the best (really, the best) donuts around.

We’re both early birds so getting up at the crack of dawn to get warm, fresh donuts a few times a year is never an issue and it makes for a fantastic start to a Sunday.

Two Classic Cake Donuts stacked up on a wire rack. These two donuts have been dipped in butter and rolled in a cinnamon sugar mixture.

Homemade Donuts

Anyway, I’ve been wanting to make donuts like our favorite diner cake donuts at home for ages, and these were pretty spot-on to our favorites.

Once the dough hits the hot oil, it puffs up and creates this fantastic crunchy exterior while still keeping the inside soft and light.

How To Dress Up Your Donuts

There are so many ways to do this, isn’t there? Here are a few of our favorites:

Rolled in cinnamon-sugar right out of the fryer? Absolute perfection.

Draped in vanilla glaze? Not so horrible either.

Dunked in chocolate glaze then coated in toasted coconut? Sweet heavens!

Overhead photo of a Classic Cake Donut. This one has been dunked in chocolate glaze and then in toasted coconut.

These donuts are without a doubt a special occasion treat and being that they take about 2 hours to make, I can’t see us making them often. But when that homemade donut hankering hits again, we’ll be ready!

Maybe even for the pool days that lie ahead of us this summer.

Travel note:  Seriously, if you traveling I-84 through Connecticut, get off at exit 15, drive north on Rt. 67/6 into Woodbury (about 3.5 miles) and stop at Dottie’s Diner on the right.  It’s a light blue building at the end of a short row of stores.  Freaking.amazing.doughnuts.

Classic Cake Donut with vanilla glaze. The donut is resting on a wire rack and it has a bite taken out of it. The donut's interior is cakey, dense, and totally delicious.

Classic Cake Donuts

Yield: 8 to 16, depending on the size of your donut cutter
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Inactive Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Cake donuts are one of those things you never think to make at home but then you do and your whole world changes.


For the doughnuts:

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 to 8 cups vegetable oil for frying

For the cinnamon-sugar mixture:

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon

For the chocolate glaze:

  • 2 oz semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

For the vanilla glaze:

  • 1 ½ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • ¼ cup half-and-half, plus extra if needed
  • ⅛ tsp pure vanilla extract

Topping ideas:

  • Sprinkles/jimmies/shots in various colors
  • Toasted coconut
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Crushed up candy bars


  1. To make the dough: Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl. In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, whisk the milk, egg, butter, and vanilla together. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix them together with a rubber spatula only until just combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. To make the coating and glazes:
  3. For the cinnamon-sugar coating: Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a medium bowl until well-combined.
  4. For the chocolate glaze: Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the half-and-half until simmering, pour it over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts. Slowly whisk the sugar into the chocolate until completely incorporated.
  5. For the vanilla glaze: Whisk the sugar, half-and-half, and vanilla together in a medium bowl until well-combined and no lumps of sugar remain. Add extra half-and-half by the teaspoon until the glaze reaches your desired consistency.
  6. To fry the donuts: Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or wide stock pot over medium-high heat.
  7. Transfer the dough to a well-floured work surface and roll the dough out to ½- to ¾-inch thickness. Using the cutter of your choice, cut the dough into rounds then pop out the centers of the rounds with a smaller cutter or large round pastry tip.
  8. Once the oil has reached 365° F (use a candy thermometer for this that attaches to the side of the pot), gently lower 3 or 4 of the donut shapes into the oil. They should sink then rise to the top. The oil temperature will likely drop so you'll need to turn the heat up a little in order to keep the temperature up - keep an eye on it - you want to maintain the oil temperature around 365° F. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side until they are puffed up and deep golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the donuts to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Repeat with remaining dough.
  9. As soon as you can safely handle the doughnuts, roll some of the donuts in the cinnamon-sugar mixture - the coating sticks better when the doughnuts are still really warm. Allow the other donuts to cool for a few extra minutes before glazing with the chocolate and vanilla glazes.
  10. Keep leftover donuts covered at room temperature. They will last no more than a day if they aren't all eaten first.


To cut the dough for these donuts, any round cutter will work - biscuit or cookie cutters are perfect. In a pinch, you could also use a glass or just cut them out by hand with a knife. If you don't have a donut cutter, you'll also need something to cut out the centers and a large round pastry tip works great for this. We got 8 really big donuts from this recipe and would likely make them smaller the next time as they were almost overwhelmingly large.

adapted from via How Sweet Eats | coating/glazes adapted from Annie's Eats

Recommended Products

As a member of the Amazon Associate affiliate program, I earn a small percentage from your qualifying Amazon purchases when you click the Amazon links on this page. I'm not informed of who purchases what, just of what products are purchased.

How much do you love this recipe?

Follow Smells Like Home on Pinterest and click that little Pin button at the top of this recipe card to save this recipe and share with your Pinterest followers!

You Might Also Like:

Leave a Comment

  • Tracey
    April 24, 2013 at 7:48 AM

    I’ve had the most intense craving for doughnuts lately, and these amazing looking doughnuts are not helping 🙂 That first one with the glaze is calling my name!

  • Kayle (The Cooking Actress)
    April 24, 2013 at 8:58 AM

    I’ve never been in love with donuts except for when they are FRESH fresh fresh-these look soooo perfect!

  • April 24, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    Mmm these sound sooo good!!

  • sarah k @
    April 24, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    beautiful homemade doughnuts! love!!

  • Laura@bakinginpyjamas
    April 24, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    They look lovely and delicious, I’d have trouble deciding what to top them with.

  • April 24, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    Fresh, homemade doughnuts are so good! Love that doughnut covered in chocolate and coconut!

  • Pam (My First Cooking Blog)
    April 24, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    Oh yum, I don’t think these would last long in my house!

  • Taylor
    June 11, 2024 at 4:41 PM

    Definitely more a batter than a dough.

    • Tara
      July 8, 2024 at 4:30 PM

      Hi Taylor, Something must have gone arwy when you made this recipe. The donuts are cut out from a dough before frying them so it’s definitely not a batter.