breakfast, brunch, desserts, snacks

just [tiny] vanilla donut cakes.

just [tiny] vanilla donut cakes.

Because sometimes you just need cake.

And sometimes you need that cake needs to be small, because you’re intent on devouring whatever it is you’re making. Also, that cake needs to look like a fancy donut, to satisfy the donut craving lurking in the back of your mind.

just [tiny] vanilla donut cakes.

In moments like these, you can’t be trusted with full-size cake or, for that matter, a trip to the donut shop; you know this. Because donut shops have an unlimited amount of donuts just waiting to be yours (not to mention that hot donut smell), and full-size cakes can be sliced, and sliced again, and sliced again, to infinity.

just [tiny] vanilla donut cakes.

Ladies and gentlemen: I give you the safety cake. You can only make 6 of these, and they’re roughly the size of those little crullers you can get at the store. Also, Greek yogurt is good for you, and I put some of that in there too, so you can call them “healthier!” like we all do when we make something and switch out some verboten ingredient for greek yogurt or applesauce or pumpkin puree or whatever. Enjoy with a big glass of not feeling terrible about yourself.

just [tiny] vanilla donut cakes.

Base batter adapted from a fairly sinful (but delicious) recipe for Aunt Patty’s coffee cake, found on Martha’s website. It’s a great full-size bundt, by the way: my attempts to get the swirl into these, small as they are, were futile, but I’m working on it. The vanilla cake on it’s own is pretty perfect; subtly sweet and designed for breakfast.

Just [Tiny] Vanilla Donut Cakes

makes 6 awfully pretty cakes

for the donut cakes:

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, for greasing cake pan
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, for finishing (optional)
  • vanilla glaze, for finishing (optional)
  • maybe some sprinkles! they’re your donut cakes; go crazy.

for the glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar*
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (add more or less if you want)

*I’ve always felt like glazes are pretty specific to a person’s individual tastes: thick or thin, strong flavor or subtle, and so on. This is a great foundation to start with, but add and subtract as needed to make your perfect glaze. 

This recipe is for 6 miniature cakes, which means you’re going to be working with a “miniature” batter. Because of its size, it’s going to be tougher to do in a stand mixer (not to mention embarrassing), so use a handheld mixer if you have one. 

You aren’t ridiculous enough for miniature Bundt pans? Double the recipe and you’ll have enough for a normal-size bundt cake, but you’ll need to adjust the cooking time accordingly, about 35 to 40 minutes total.

Make those wee cakes:

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a small bowl and use a pastry brush to brush the insides of your 6-Bundt mini Bundt pan. No need to flour; it only messes things up.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a glass liquid measuring cup (Pyrex), measure out buttermilk. Add greek yogurt and vanilla to the cup and stir until smooth and combined. Set aside. (See what I did there? I saved you a bowl, that’s what.)

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar on high speed using an electric mixer, 4 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add egg, and beat to combine; scrape bowl again. Add half the buttermilk mixture, stirring until just combined. Add half of the flour mixture, stir for a few seconds, then repeat with remaining buttermilk mixture and flour mixture; stir until batter is just combined and no dry patches remain, being careful not to overmix.

Divide into each cavity of the prepared mini-bundt pans and bake for 11 to 13 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean or with a few crumbs. Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack to cool, 10 minutes. Hold the rack and the pan firmly together and turn out cakes onto rack to cool the rest of the way. Dust with confectioners’ sugar or drizzle with vanilla glaze.

Which, speaking of vanilla glaze:

Whisk confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla together. Add more sugar to make it thicker, milk to thin, and vanilla for a stronger flavor. Done!

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  • Reply Wendy March 18, 2015 at 9:52 am

    I agree completely! What am I agreeing too? 1. These ARE 6 awfully pretty cakes! 2. Of course cake made with yogurt is healthIER and should be considered breakfast food….well maybe, but it tastes really good and gives baked goods just the right weight of crumb. 3. Mini sizes not only look adorable but they are life savers against the evil cake of infinite slices!

    • Reply shannon March 30, 2015 at 9:25 am

      Thank you! I take that as a high compliment coming from you, since everything you do is awfully pretty. 🙂 and you’re darn right about these being just fine for breakfast due to yogurt; yogurt is pretty awesome stuff when it comes to baking, for the reasons you mentioned. these have a nice crumb; very light, but not at all dry.
      Normal-size cakes are such temptresses, with their infinite number of slices just staring at you. it’s horrible and MUST BE STOPPED (with tiny donut cakes.) 🙂

  • Reply Sarah @ The Cook's Life March 18, 2015 at 10:17 am

    I am so into mini desserts these days. I am on a quest (again) to lose weight and get healthier. Mini desserts and half recipes of things are my friends. And I try to limit the baking to the weekend. Working pretty well so far. Spring break and a visit from my food-loving MIL derailed things slightly, but it was fun and worth it! Here’s to mini cakes and indulging without any guilt!

    • Reply shannon March 30, 2015 at 9:26 am

      Mini totally works with diets! Unless of course you’re like me and sometimes “forget *cough cough*” how many miniature things you’ve eaten. Half recipes are the best, too! I employ that for dinners a lot around here because leftovers pile up and we don’t need 10 servings of anything hanging around for me to pick at. 🙂

  • Reply Deb|EastofEdenCooking March 18, 2015 at 11:32 am

    Cake for breakfast! You have my undivided attention! A very tempting way to begin the day. Although I would not be the first one to (without hesitation) pick up a second Tiny Vanilla Donut Cake, break it half and savor that too.

    • Reply shannon March 30, 2015 at 9:29 am

      I’d totally eat that second half of donut cake with you, Deb.

  • Reply John@Kitchen Riffs March 18, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    Healthy! Yup, that’s the word. I like healthy so I’ll have a batch of 6, please. 😉 Actually I like small things both for the portion control aspect (a concept I really need to learn), but small things always photograph better. Or so I find. 😉 Anyway, fun stuff — thanks.

    • Reply shannon March 30, 2015 at 9:00 am

      hey: greek yogurt just cancels out anything else in these, right? I feel like that’s how it should work. 🙂 Definitely agree re: small things…it does work for portion control, and don’t we all sort of have that same issue? And there’s always the photography factor: viva la small things for photographs! I’ve yet to master photographing an entire cake or pie when it’s full-size, so the littles make it much easier.

  • Reply movita beaucoup March 19, 2015 at 4:26 am

    So yesterday, on a shovelling break (yah, we had a blizzard), 2.0 opened up the computer and saw these in my facebook feed. It took me a minute to realize he was yelling: Shannon made doughnuts! Your Shannon made doughnuts!

    Wait until I tell him they are donut cakes. He’ll go nuts.

    • Reply shannon March 30, 2015 at 9:01 am

      I can’t believe you’re still shoveling snow up there: your arms must be like Hulk arms by now.

      You tell 2.0 i said hello, and i’d happily come over and make you two these cakes for post-snow enjoyment. You guys deserve about 10 of these each.

  • Reply Ashley March 20, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    I love the way you think! Can’t be trusted in a donut shop because all the donuts are begging to be yours (as they should be), but aware you can’t control yourself around donuts, cake or pretty much any non-individualized baked good. Plus adding a healthy ingredient, no matter how little, totally makes the whole thing healthy, regardless of the other ingredients. This is totally the way I think too!!!

    Also, the mini bundt pan. Still want. Still can’t find in stores. I think the mini bundt pans know and are intentionally eluding me. Ah, the hunt…. (I sound really crazy, don’t I?)

    • Reply shannon March 30, 2015 at 9:04 am

      Reading this is pretty timely for me, Ashley, because i had this EXACT problem you describe yesterday in a donut shop, and it was EMBARASSING. we came home with a dozen donuts and i hacked slices off of probably every one of them…i feel kinda guilty today but i also want more (they’re safely trashed with dish soap on them). 🙂 THE STRUGGLE IS REAL WHEN DONUTS ARE INVOLVED!

      gotta find the mini-bundt. I know it’s on Amazon, and i think this one came from Williams Sonoma. You have a Bed Bath and Beyond up there, right? They’re usually a pretty good resource for mini-bundts. This one is the Heritage Bundt.

  • Reply mellissa @ ibreatheimhungry March 21, 2015 at 6:59 am

    “Safety Cakes” = Best. Name. Ever. Also, these look amazing!

    • Reply shannon March 30, 2015 at 9:02 am

      S-s-s-s-A-a-a-a-F-f-f-f-E-e-e-e-T-t-t-t-Y-y-y-y Safety…Cakes! (because we’re both old enough to remember the Safety Dance, right? Yes.

  • Reply Brianne March 21, 2015 at 10:57 am

    Could you make these in a doughnut pan and call them doughnut cakes? Would that blow up the internet? You’d lose the lovely cruller texture, I guess…and I think that’s the best part about these. I love this recipe and the story behind it–everything in moderation….right?

    • Reply shannon March 30, 2015 at 9:31 am

      ABSOLUTELY, Brianne: you’re totally onto something with that, although that cruller texture is kinda the best thing ever – the ridges get a little crispy, which is wonderful. But this recipe, i imagine, would make up perfectly in a donut pan (altho the quantity per cavity may be slightly less or you’d have some fat donuts, maybe.)

      i should test this out.

  • Reply sue|theviewfromgreatisland March 21, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    I like the way you think! You pull me in with the whole cake, cruller, doughnut thing…then you talk me off the ledge with words like ‘Greek yogurt’ and ‘tiny’…

    • Reply shannon March 30, 2015 at 9:32 am

      Because everyone knows that “tiny” and “yogurt” are just code words for “breakfast-acceptable.”

  • Reply natalie @ wee eats March 25, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    I’m delighted to say that during my Spring Cleaning I happened upon A TINY BUNDT BUNDT PAN which means OMG I CAN TOTALLY MAKE THESE! Isn’t that exciting? I’m so excited. Everything is better when it’s miniaturized, don’t you agree?

    • Reply shannon March 30, 2015 at 8:36 am

      Find tiny bundt pans during spring cleaning: file under “things which only happen to food bloggers.”

      everything IS better miniaturized. because, cute.

  • Reply elizabeth March 30, 2015 at 7:57 am

    OMG, these are adorable and they look SO GOOD. Of all the substitutions out there perpetuated by dubious pins on Pinterest and various health magazines, Greek yogurt is by far the only one I find useful, because at least it’s tasty and rich and yet has good stuff in it. Do you use full-fat, reduced fat, or nonfat?

    • Reply shannon March 30, 2015 at 8:30 am

      totally agree: so many “substitutions” fall short of the original thing, so i largely avoid them, but greek yogurt in for sour cream never disappoints, in baked goods or even in dips, etc.
      my answer re: type depends (in my opinion) largely on the brand/quality of greek yogurt you’re using and what you’re looking to get out of it. If i’m trying to reduce cals/fat, I exclusively use Fage brand 0% because it’s the thickest, creamiest fat-free one out there by a long shot (and i’m very picky when it comes to fat free dairy). I made these with the Fage 0% variety (which i’ll note now on the recipe b/c that’s a smart thing to do, thank you!). Fat/cals aside, I use the Fage 2% quite a bit (great for dips, especially) or any other high-quality greek yogurt. to me, it’s all about the texture and how it adds to what you’re doing, so the closer you can get to actual sour cream, the better.

  • Reply Jennie @themessybakerblog April 1, 2015 at 9:19 am

    I lose control the instant I get a whiff of warm, sweet dough being fried or baked to donut perfection. Yes, sometimes you just need a small cake, because portable cake is always welcome. Love these fancy pants donuts.

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