Meet the apple cider donut cake, recipe courtesy of Jennifer Segal of Once Upon a Chef.  Spiced generously with nutmeg and brimming with apple goodness, it echoes the flavors of your favorite fall donut—minus the frying and in a convenient square shape. The magic behind its irresistible flavor is reducing the apple cider, and then incorporating it into both the cake batter and the glaze. This process amps up the flavor and infuses the cake with a tart sweetness that, paired with nutmeg, nails the iconic cider donut taste. Perfect for using up apple cider from your autumn outings or weekend market hauls, this cake embodies fall’s warmth and is a hit with both kids and adults.

Servings: 16 squares
Prep Time: 40 Minutes | Cook Time: 30 Minutes



  • 1½ cupsapple cider
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅔ cupsour cream
  • ½ cup (1 stick)unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1¼ teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cupsall-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled off
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda


  • Reduced cider, reserved from making the cake
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Big pinch salt


  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and set an oven rack in the middle position. Butter or coat an 8-inch square metal baking pan (see note) with nonstick spray. Line the pan with an 8×16-inch piece of parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. You’ll have to create seams in the corners and along the edges of the pan to get it to stay put.
  2. In a small skillet, bring the apple cider to a boil over medium heat. Gently boil until the cider is reduced to ½ cup, 10 to 15 minutes. (If you accidentally over-reduce it, make up the difference with more cider.) Let cool for about 10 minutes. Measure out ⅓ cup and leave the remaining reduced cider in the skillet.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs until pale and foamy, about 1 minute. Whisk in the sour cream, followed by the butter, and then the nutmeg, vanilla, salt, and the ⅓ cup of reduced cider. Whisk until evenly combined. Add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and whisk until smooth.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the cake is puffed and golden and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Set the pan on a rack to cool for about 15 minutes then use the parchment paper to lift the cake out of the pan and set it on the rack to cool completely.


  1. To the skillet with the remaining reduced cider, add the butter, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat and gently boil until very thick, 30 to 60 seconds. Drizzle the warm cake evenly with the glaze. Let the glaze set for a few minutes while you make the cinnamon-sugar topping.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon and sugar until evenly combined. Sprinkle a generous layer of the mixture evenly over the glazed cake, reserving a bit to add a fresh dusting before serving, if desired. Cut the cake into squares and serve.
  3. Make-Ahead/Freezer-Friendly Instructions: Store the cake, covered, at room temperature for up to three days. The cake can also be frozen for up to 3 months; wrap the finished cake tightly with aluminum foil or freezer wrap. Thaw overnight on the countertop and dust with more cinnamon-sugar if necessary before serving.

Note: For this particular cake, using a metal baking pan is essential for achieving an even rise; glass tends to heat unevenly, leading to cakes that rise irregularly and peak too high on the sides.