Cinnamon-Sugar Mini Donut-Topped Snickerdoodle Cake

Mini donuts or coffee cake for breakfast? Hmmm, such a hard choice.

I decided not to choose and had a two-for-one deal via this cake.

It’s a soft, moist, buttery tasting cake with notes of cinnamon and reminds me of snickerdoodle cookies, and I love snickerdoodles.

I made the cake using my favorite foolproofone-bowleasy cake base. It comes together with a whisk, no mixer needed, and is simple enough to be made at a moment’s notice.

I loathe dry cake, and used three tricks to keep it super soft, moist, and tender: Buttermilk, sour cream (or Greek yogurt), and oil.

Buttermilk helps keep cakes soft, springy, bouncy, tender, with the perfect balance of density and fluffiness. The results are unparalleled. You can make buttermilk by souring your own milk. Add about 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice to 1/2 cup milk, wait for 10 minutes for it to curdle, then use as indicated. 

If you don’t routinely keep buttermilk on hand, I highly recommend this Powdered Buttermilk. If you don’t use buttermilk much, but sometimes see a recipe that needs a half cup, but because you think you won’t use the rest of the jug before it goes bad, you opt of trying the recipe, then this powder is your new best friend. Shelf stable, keeps for ages.

To make sure the cake had flavors similar to snickerdoodle cookies, I used one tablespoon cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, and sour cream for just a slight tang. Combined, they help create a snickerdoodle flavor profile.

Bake the cake for about 25 minutes, or until just done. Just long enough that the center is set and a toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.

Then, top the cake with 9 mini donuts. I used Entenmann’s Cinnamon Pop’Ems because I didn’t feel like making donuts just to put on a cake. If you’re up for more work than I was, use either the Baked Vanilla Donuts or Baked Cinnamon Bun Donuts recipe and bake them in a mini donut pan for about 7 minutes.

If you don’t have Entenmann’s, don’t worry. I would have preferred to use Krispy Kreme or Dunkin’ Donuts, but neither are easy to come by in my area. Use whatever donuts your local grocery store bakery has, or use donut holes. Depending on how big they are, you may want to cut them in half so it doesn’t look like baseballs are on top of your cake.

Bake the cake for about 2 minutes with the donuts on top. It helps the donuts and cake meld into one, so they don’t slip around.

It also helps flavors marry when things are baked together, even briefly.

I glazed the cake with a simple melted butter and confectioners’ sugar glaze. If you’re not going to serve or need the whole cake at once, you  may wish to just glaze the portion you need.

The cake is springy, bouncy, and very moist, with just enough density to give it tooth-sinking heft. It’s just sweet enough, but not overly so, and has plenty of cinnamon pop and snickerdoodle flavor.

The cinnamon-coated cake donuts are what you expect bakery cake donuts or donut holes to taste like.

They have huge nostalgia factor for me and remind me of being a kid and a big treat was my mom buying donuts from a bakery. She was a scratch baker with everything except donuts.

The combination of the cake, the mini donuts, and the glaze, all in one bite is dreamy.

And  I didn’t even have to choose between cake or donuts.

Yield: one 8x8-inch pan, 9 generous pieces

Cinnamon-Sugar Mini Donut-Topped Snickerdoodle Cake

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

You don’t have to choose between donuts or coffee cake with this recipe – you can have both. The cake is springy, bouncy, and very moist, with just enough density to give it tooth-sinking heft. It’s just sweet enough, but not overly so, and has plenty of cinnamon pop and snickerdoodle flavor. I made the cake using my favorite foolproof, one-bowl, easy cake base. It comes together with a whisk, no mixer needed. I loathe dry cake, and used three tricks to keep it super soft, moist, and tender: Buttermilk, sour cream (or Greek yogurt), and oil. I used storebought mini donuts (Entenmann’s) but Krispy Kreme, Dunkin’ Donuts, grocery store bakery donuts (or donut holes) will work just fine. The combination of the soft snickerdoodle cake, the cinnamon-sugary mini donuts, and the buttery glaze, all in one bite makes me happy I don’t have to choose between favorites.



  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon (yes tablespoon, not teaspoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (or Powdered Buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup sour cream, light is okay (plain Greek yogurt may be substituted)
  • 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 9 mini donuts (I used Entenmann’s Cinnamon Pop’Ems, any mini donut from a grocery bakery, Krispy Kreme, Dunkin’ Donuts, or donut holes may be used; or make homemade mini donuts using either the Baked Vanilla Donuts or Baked Cinnamon Bun Donuts


  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted (half of one stick)
  • about 1 1/2 cups+ confectioners’ sugar
  • splash milk or cream, only if necessary for consistency


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. Cake – In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, optional salt; set aside.
  3. In a large measuring cup or separate small bowl, whisk together the next 5 wet ingredients (through vanilla).
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry, mixing lightly with a spoon until just combined. Small lumps will be present and this is okay. Don’t overmix or try to stir them smooth; set aside. Batter will be on the thicker side.
  5. Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.
  6. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. Watch your cake, not the clock, and always bake until done, whatever that means in your climate and oven, given the ingredients you used.
  7. Remove pan from oven and carefully place 9 mini donuts on the surface, spaced uniformly and evenly.
  8. Using your palm or fingertips, lightly smoosh donuts onto the cake to help them stick.
  9. Return pan to over and bake for about 2 more minutes. This helps set donuts into the cake so they won’t slide around.
  10. Remove pan from oven and place on a wire rack and allow cake to cool for at least 20 minutes in pan before optionally glazing. While cake cooks, makes the glaze.
  11. Glaze – In a small microwave-safe bowl, add the butter and heat on high power to melt, about 45 seconds.
  12. Add about 1 heaping cup confectioners’ sugar and whisk until smooth. Depending on desired consistency, continue to add sugar until desired consistency is reached. If you accidentally add too much, add a splash of cream or milk to thin. Alternatively, try buttery vanilla glaze or browned butter glaze.
  13. Evenly drizzle the glaze over the cake before slicing and serving. If you only plan to consume a small portion of this cake or plan to keep it around for a few days, you may wish to glaze it in portions and as needed, rather than all at once or in advance. Cake will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days. I’m comfortable storing glazed cakes at room temperature, but if you’re not, glaze only the portion you plan to consume immediately.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 492Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 51mgSodium: 281mgCarbohydrates: 68gFiber: 2gSugar: 47gProtein: 5g

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