Donut. Cake. Awesome?
July 9, 2010 6:44 PM   Subscribe

Donut cake. Need your help. Need equal parts creativity, kitchen panache and engineering skill.

So we're in a contest to make the best possible cake out of ... donuts. We can use other ingredients, but the primary base of the cake is going to be two dozen glazed donuts, hacked/sliced/configured however we so desire.

My plan is to make a donut bundt cake - donuts placed on their sides, side-by-side, around a bundt cake ring. Slices would be made down the midway point of each donut, so that the top of each slice is the bottom half of one donut, and vice versa.

But here's my challenge: I need some sort of awesome binding agent to hold them together, as well as some innovative way to get some substance (cherry pie filling? whipped cream?) into the long tunnel that will be created by the donut holes pushed up against one another in a ring.

So, hive mind, what's the thing to do here? How can I make this the most awesome donut cake in the history of the phrase "donut cake"? And alternately, if I'm traveling down some sort of dead-end road with my insistence on a bundt structure, what would you do instead?
posted by jbickers to Food & Drink (40 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Best question ever.

For filling in the "tunnel" I think I would just fill in a few donuts' worth at a time while building the ring. Prop up the first three or so and stick together with your binding agent, fill with a pastry bag, add another three, fill, and so on. This will give you more control and visibility of the filling than trying to fill after the whole ring is almost complete. The filling will probably need to be pretty stiff so as not to drip between the cracks where the donuts meet, unless your binding agent really coats/sticks well.

Did I mention best question ever?
posted by dayintoday at 6:51 PM on July 9, 2010

Rather than going the bundt-cake route, how about creating stacks of donuts, with donut-holes added to the donut hole, shelacked in place with curd or jelly (rathe than whipping cream or cherry pie filling which is slippery), and after creating the first layer on the bottom, a layer of icing, then more donuts with holes placed with the sides of the donuts pressed firmly against one another so that there is little space for spillage and error. I'd say probably seven layers of donuts that have been icing-ed up will probably slice perfectly in typical cake-shaped slices.
posted by banannafish at 6:52 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Does it need to be a cake? Because I've had this dougnut bread pudding and it's two shades of awesome (plus one).
posted by jquinby at 6:55 PM on July 9, 2010

Gingerbread house icing, which is just powdered sugar and egg whites, is a great binding agent. I would think it would hold the donuts together in a delicious fashion.
posted by samsarah at 6:56 PM on July 9, 2010

Jello would be a great binding and lend some structural integrity but you'd have to be a jello sort of person. Alcoholic jelloshot jello? Custard also or pudding.

Mousse for the filling? Granita, if the cake can be kept cold?
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:56 PM on July 9, 2010

"donuts placed on their sides, side-by-side, around a bundt cake ring. Slices would be made down the midway point of each donut, so that the top of each slice is the bottom half of one donut, and vice versa"

maybe i'm just spatially-challenged, but i can't visualize what you're trying to explain.

on the other hand, when i think of a donut cake, i keep thinking of a yule log made of donuts.

you could fill the "tunnel" with cream patissiere... just ease up on the sugar, since glazed donuts are really sweet already.

if you intend on putting some kind of topping sauce over the cake, i'd suggest making it with something with a bit of a bitter edge, such a dark 60-70% chocolate or strong coffee, again, because of the extreme sweetness (and greasiness) of the donuts.

For binding, you could try:

I'm not sure how effective it would be in binding larger things like donuts.

good luck~
posted by joyeuxamelie at 6:58 PM on July 9, 2010

To mortar the donuts together, take inspiration from a croquembouche and use a caramel.
posted by TrarNoir at 7:11 PM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Not to be all party pooper-y, but you're going to have a geometry problem with that cake. Your doughnuts will form spokes, instead of a tidy tube. The outer perimeter of the bundt cake is longer than the inner perimeter, so you will have wedge-shaped spaces to fill between.

I would go with joyeuxamelie's suggestion of the "yule log" method. And I would experiment with... cake batter! I recently did an experiment and learned that if you completely submerge a baked cake inside a pan full of cake batter, it will come through the baking process unscathed.
posted by ErikaB at 7:15 PM on July 9, 2010

You know what I want to see? The whole thing cast in jelly. (may be known as jello where you live). Donuts all lined up however you want in somethng that makes a mould, lots of red raspberry jelly poured in around and left to set. Shiney wobbly donutty goodness.
posted by shelleycat at 7:19 PM on July 9, 2010

I think the bundt structure could work, especially if you use Krispy Kreme-type squishy donuts. For filling, you could use jelly (har har get it?), but that much jelly might be a bit much. How about filling large pastry tubes, with large tips, with several complementary substances: jelly, different kind of and color of jelly, chocolate, hazelnut paste/ganache, peanut butter (or almond butter - whichever goes best with the other flavors), and a creamy/sweet filling similar to a donut's cream filling.

IF flavor is a concern, and you want to try making something light, then MAYBE you could try a Belgian waffle batter in there, with lots of fluffy egg whites, and bake the thing.

Or, better still, maybe lemon meringue pie! Put a heavy-ish meringue between the segments of the donuts' outside shell; put a nice layer of lemon pie filling -- good and stiff, mostly cooked -- inside the "tube" formed by the inside curves of the donuts, and then a nice thick layer of meringue again, with lots of sugar (and maybe cream of tartar - do some research) to make it fairly structural, since it will eventually be the bottom of the "cake".

This sounds intriguing, doesn't it? You'll have a donut-y bundt presentation, with a little bit of meringue showing between the donut segments and on the bottom, but when it's sliced people will get a nice, flavorful spot of lemon right inside, as a surprise. That should help keep the whole thing from being an overly sweet mess.
posted by amtho at 7:29 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Is Learning Tower O'Donut out of question?
posted by The Whelk at 7:42 PM on July 9, 2010

Can we get clarification on the term "best"?

I like amtho's lemon meringue suggestion as being the tastiest, but it would probably look boring from the outside. Shelleycat's "giant Jell-o mold" idea is definitely going to look the funniest, but would probably taste... not good.
posted by ErikaB at 7:51 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Merengue might be a bit cloying with glazed donuts. The log I like, with a traditional donut-shop custard for the core and maybe merengue on the outside, or I like the idea of more cake batter. I do think the interior of each donut should not be breached.
posted by rhizome at 8:20 PM on July 9, 2010

I'm spatially challenged too, so I can't picture what you describe. But I think layers of lemon curd alternating with layers of nice freshly-whipped, vanilla-tinged whipped cream would balance out the sweetness of the donuts quite nicely. Now I'm hungry.
posted by doift at 8:35 PM on July 9, 2010

Best answer: I think you fill the tunnel with cheesecake batter and then mortar the ring-o-donuts together with chocolate.
posted by carmicha at 9:08 PM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

For the spatially challenged:
The donuts are standing on their edge around the bundt pan, indeed looking like spokes.

When cutting the cake, instead of cutting in the space between two donuts and removing one entire donut, the OP is planning to attack a single donut and cut down through its equator to slice it in half, then approach the next donut in the ring and cut it the same way. The slice of "cake" will then consist of half a donut (with the cakey side out), the gluey filling that sticks the donuts together, and half of the next donut (again with the cakey side out).

For the filling, I vote standard donut custard. Oh shoot, I just saw the cheesecake suggestion. You might need to make 2 of these.

But I really vote for the Bread Pudding. I made my mother's bread pudding recipe but just substituted leftover donuts for the bread. It was fantastic.
posted by CathyG at 9:19 PM on July 9, 2010

A bread pudding is a much a cake as any of the other suggestions. Here's another recipe. It's from Eli's in Manhattan via the New York Times. It uses cream and milk instead of condensed milk. It uses jelly donuts instead of fruit cocktail and raisins. You could use a nice jam to replace the jelly. The picture accompanying the article is very appetizing and the recipe sounds more appealing, but I haven't tried either of them.
posted by stuart_s at 9:27 PM on July 9, 2010

This sounds like it's begging for a trifle. Nay, a strawberry rum trifle.
posted by YamwotIam at 9:36 PM on July 9, 2010

(chocolate glazed donuts being the go-to cake of choice)
posted by YamwotIam at 9:43 PM on July 9, 2010

OH MY GOD CHEESECAKE YES. You can get an instant cheesecake mix that just has to be mixed with water and refrigerated to set, if you don't feel up to the challenge of making A Real Cheesecake under these circumstances.
posted by ErikaB at 9:54 PM on July 9, 2010

Do you have to make one big cake out of two-dozen doughnuts? For a small cake (or cakes):

Take three doughnuts. Cut one of the doughnuts into segments and straighten them, so that those segments can be used to fill in the holes in the other two doughnuts as neatly as possible. Now you have two disks (no holes). Slice one doughnut in half (as though it were a bagel). Maybe with a finely-serrated knife? Now put one half doughnut flat-side down, then the whole doughnut, then the other half-doughnut flat-side up. Now if my imagination does not fail me, you have something that is shaped quite a bit like a small cake. Disassemble, spread something (curd, jam, ganache) between the layers to glue it together as you reassemble. Frost with something-or-other. Do one rough frosting layer to fill in the gaps and such and get a nice cylindrical cake-shape and pin down any crumbs. Refrigerate to firm that up. Do a final tidy frosting layer.

That's for a straight-on cake. Farther afield, a giant doughnut croquembouche would be awesome. Don't cheat and use doughnut holes -- too much like a normal croquembouche.

Idea from Mrs. Methods: some sort of pineapple (or other fruit) upside-down cake (I like pineapple because the rings would echo the doughnut shape).

Second idea from Mrs. Methods: some cakes are soaked/infused with rum or bourbon, which might be awesome for a doughnut cake.
posted by madmethods at 10:24 PM on July 9, 2010

I love the bundt ring idea. To add more donuts/less space for the filling, I would recommend slicing a thin wedge from the sides of each donut that will be towards the center hole, so that it is essentially a solid ring of donut surrounding the center hole.
A way to make it much more stabilized would be to use a classic chocolate ganache (if you want to cheat you can use regular premade frosting bought in tubs at the store, but not nearly as yummy) to glue these cut wedges together. I would make sure that the donuts are the cake style, and cold, and the ganache/frosting is room temp, for easy spreading. Or you can pipe it on using a large opening tip on a pastry bag.
Then to fill in the gaps between the donuts, I would use a lightly sweetened super stabilized espresso flavored whipped cream. The key here is lightly sweetened.

Very easily done. 2 cups heavy cream. maybe 1/2 teaspoon powdered gelatin, which was dissolved in 2-3 tablespoons hot/boiling water, left to cool at room temp. If you have instant espresso powder, dissolve some to taste super strong. If not, brew some super strong coffee. Add to heavy cream. I would probably go with a stronger coffee flavor in the cream, to enhance the whole coffee and donuts thing.

Start whipping cream, adding gradually sugar to taste (maybe 1/4 to half cup). Just before soft peaks form, when the cream has thickened substantially, but no peaks form when you pull out the beaters, gradually add the gelatin. Continue whipping to soft peaks.

The gelatin will maintain the structure of the whipped cream.

I would frost the donut/bundt structure in this,forming a traditional bundt shape with the cream, refrigerate it, and using some of the ganache that I carefully melted in the micro on low power, but which I let come to room temp, drizzle over the top of the very cold bundt structure. Then fill the center with either whole strawberries or chocolate donut holes. You will have a cake that tastes wonderful.

Also, your idea of slicing vertically through each donut rather than in the space between them is perfect, especially if you filled each donut's hole with the ganache.
posted by newpotato at 4:28 AM on July 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

looking back, half a cup of sugar would be way too much, just do it to taste, not forgetting that the donuts and ganache will add a lot of sweetness that you will want to counter with the whipped cream.
posted by newpotato at 4:35 AM on July 10, 2010

a Tokamak reactor of cakes. if only you could fill it with super heated plasma.
posted by jrishel at 11:01 AM on July 12, 2010

I should point out that while I want to see a red jelly wobbly goodness, I want to eat what newpotato is describing. I can also attest from recent experience that the chocolate ganache recipe listed with this cake (which I saw linked elsewhere in is utterly perfect. It's runny enough to pour on but thick enough it won't disappear over the side, sets fast and stiff enough to hold stuff together without being crunchy, and ends up shiny and beautiful. So yeah, do that!
posted by shelleycat at 2:56 PM on July 12, 2010

Response by poster: Thought you fine people might like an update: We won the contest! Free donuts for a year.

Here's a Flickr set of the cake at its various stages of construction/consumption. Basically, piped cheesecake filling into the tunnel, poured melted Hershey's chocolate into the gaps, then frosted the top with more chocolate.

This thing is delicious. And hedonistic like crazy. Thanks to all of you for the help and ideas!
posted by jbickers at 9:14 AM on July 13, 2010 [23 favorites]

You're my hero.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:10 PM on July 13, 2010

Dude, please submit this to This is Why We're Fat. :D
posted by ntartifex at 4:05 PM on July 13, 2010

How did you get the cheese cake filling in while it was in the pan? Or is that why there's a splotch of filling leaking out in on of the shots?
posted by Diablevert at 6:16 PM on July 13, 2010


Can we call this "The Official AskMe Cake"?
posted by ErikaB at 7:28 PM on July 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

omfg that is a thing of beauty. Congratulations!!
posted by Wuggie Norple at 8:34 PM on July 13, 2010

This is crazy. And I want to taste it soooo much.
posted by Omnomnom at 6:13 AM on July 14, 2010

This is the clearly the Official Cake of Metafilter and should be served at meetups.
posted by theora55 at 12:27 PM on July 14, 2010 [5 favorites]

What was in the cheesecake filling? I've done a kind of similar filling (cream cheese, lemon, milk, sugar), but I've never seen "instant cheesecake."
posted by zennie at 12:56 PM on July 14, 2010

Now that is a cake! Don't know what jbickers used, but Philly makes ready-to-eat cheesecake filling.
posted by contrariwise at 7:47 PM on July 14, 2010

Ye gods. I think when you divide awesome by zero, you get that cake.
posted by jquinby at 8:16 AM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: It was indeed the Philly ready-to-eat filling. I piped each donut hole one-at-a-time, then stacked them one-by-one.
posted by jbickers at 10:33 AM on July 15, 2010

I'm so glad it turned out well!
posted by carmicha at 11:03 AM on July 15, 2010

Say, that does look good...
posted by rhizome at 5:42 PM on July 19, 2010

Are those basic Krispy Kreme glazed donuts? They look more substantial than I'd imagine.
posted by amtho at 4:06 PM on July 24, 2010

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