Apple Cider Doughnut Cake

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I'm well aware that an Apple Cider Doughnut Cake pretty much speaks for itself, and anything I might say here would probably be superfluous.  But I've never been one to miss an opportunity to wax poetic about a cake as wondrous as this one, so on I go.  Bear with me.

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The cake itself (thank you, Serious Eats!) begins with those iconic fall flavors that remind us so happily of everything good about this time of year...apples, cider, cinnamon, nutmeg, doughnuts. Yes, doughnuts is a flavor in my world.  And you'll get what I mean after your first bite of this cake (hint... it's the nutmeg!).

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Yes, it's the nutmeg, but it's also the texture of this cake.  If you're a fan of cake doughnuts, you must applaud the genius of the folks at Serious Eats who so remarkably captured that experience in cake form.  Simply brilliant.

Our cake is going to be bundted, that is to say baked in a bundt pan, and then upended after which copious amounts of cinnamon sugar will be applied to its exterior.  Although, to be honest, copious amounts of that cinnamon sugar will end up on the baking sheet below, because it's pretty much against the laws of science and physics to ask these minuscule grains to adhere to a vertical surface.  Gravity will win out, I tell you.  But do not give in to science.  Keep at it.  I even had the nerve to spray the sides with a little nonstick cooking spray (don't tell anyone, geez) which actually did provide a little adherence assistance.  You will get enough on, believe me, and what doesn't make it, can be saved to sprinkle over that slice on your plate.

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That pretty much sums it up, I guess...apples, cinnamon sugar, doughnuts, cider, cake.  Go and get your fall on.  Here's the recipe...

Apple Cider Doughnut Cake

Recipe adapted from Serious Eats

Click here for a printable recipe

If you close your eyes as you take a bite of this cake, you might easily convince yourself that you're eating a doughnut.  A very luscious apple cider doughnut.  It's a brilliant recipe, thank you, Serious Eats, but one that I found needed a few tweaks, which  I have noted in the recipe.  If you don't have mace in your spice cabinet, just double the nutmeg.  I doubled the nutmeg anyway and ended up putting in way more than 1/2 teaspoon (1/4 teaspoon is not nearly enough, and oh, please use fresh grated).  That's what cues your tastebuds that you might be eating a doughnut!  And one more thing, there was much discussion on the Serious Eats website about the cooking time for this cake.  Mine was done at exactly 35 minutes, but many on the site said their cake needed a full 50 minutes.  Ovens are so fickle.

For the Cake:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large Granny Smith apple (about 8 ounces), peeled, cored, and roughly chopped (I used 1 1/2 medium-
            sized ones)
1 1/2 cups apple cider
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature                              
2 1/2 cups (about 12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I used more; freshly grated is best)
1/4 teaspoon ground mace (see headnote)
3/4 cup (about 5 1/4 ounces) sugar
1/2 cup (about 3 1/2 ounces) packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Cinnamon Sugar Coating

6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. For the Cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease Bundt pan with a little softened butter (I sprayed with nonstick cooking spray).

2. In medium saucepan, bring chopped apple and cider to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until most of the cider has been absorbed and apples are easily smashed with a fork, 10 to 12 minutes. (Cooking this down another 5-8 minutes will intensify the apple flavors in the cake).  Remove pan from heat, cool 5 minutes, then pulse in food processor until pureed. (I used a hand blender, but you could just as easily mash them with a fork).  Measure out 1 1/4 cups apple mixture and stir in milk; set aside. (you can reduce the leftover apple mixture even more and drizzle it over your slice of cake...yummy)

3. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and mace; set aside.

4. In large bowl, beat 1/2 cup softened butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

5. Decrease mixer speed to low and add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with apple mixture, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Increase speed to medium and beat mixture just until combined, about 20 seconds. Add vanilla and beat once more, just to combine, about 10 seconds.

6. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake until cake tester inserted in cake comes out clean, rotating cake halfway through baking, 35 to 45 minutes. (mine was done at exactly 35 minutes and I confess to not rotating the pan.  My bad, but it cooked perfectly).  Transfer cake to cooling rack set inside baking sheet and cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert directly onto cooling rack.

7. For the Cinnamon Sugar Coating: Combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle warm cake with cinnamon sugar, using fingers to rub it onto sides.

8. Cool cake completely, about 1 hour.