Traditional cake donuts, or doughnuts, are actually fried and usually made with dairy. These cake donuts are baked, dairy-free, and can even be made with whole wheat flour. But thanks to the ingredients and method, they taste pretty darn close to the guilty originals. Trust me, these aren’t ordinary baked donuts. One bite of these dairy-free baked cake donuts and you’ll be hooked!
The Best Dairy-Free Baked Cake Donuts with Various Options
This is your baseline vanilla recipe for dairy-free baked cake donuts. There are several topping options in the recipe notes, including classic cinnamon sugar, glaze, and more. See my book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook, for my Maple Donut version. Below are answers to additional FAQs you might have.
What if I Don’t Have a Donut Pan?
Simply pour the batter into greased 3-inch ramekins, about 1-inch high and bake as directed for hole-free, dairy-free baked cake donuts. But if you plan on making more donuts, I would invest in some donut pans!
What is White-Wheat Flour?
Despite the name, white whole wheat flour is actually whole wheat flour, but it’s a lighter grind than classic wheat flour. It’s known for being lighter in color, and it performs as a “softer” wheat flour. If you only have regular whole wheat flour, I would use half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour.
Can I Use a Different Sweetener?
I have successfully tested these dairy-free baked cake donuts with coconut sugar. I grind the coconut sugar in my spice grinder before adding it to the recipe to ensure it fully incorporates into the texture. Do not substitute a liquid sugar, and be aware that sugar-free sweeteners do not always perform the same in baked goods.
What Butter Alternative do you Use?
In this recipe, I tested with MELT Organic. Your favorite brand should work fine, but I do really like MELT for baking. It has a great flavor and performs well. It’s also delicious in the whipped cream topping in the recipe notes. It adds creaminess, a hint of flavor, and helps prevent melting.
What Can I Substitute for the Lite Canned Coconut Milk?
If you’re just concerned about the flavor, don’t worry, you can NOT taste the coconut. Lite coconut milk is very mild, but adds richness. And it’s readily available in the Asian section of most grocery stores. If you only have regular canned coconut milk on hand, you can use 1/2 cup coconut milk and 1/2 cup water. Do not use milk beverage – the drinkable stuff in cartons. I haven’t tested it, but dairy-free half and half products (like Ripple, Califia Farms, and Silk) should also work. Unsweetened, rich creamers, like nutpods, might also work as a substitute.
Help, My Batter Was Too Runny or Donuts Didn’t Rise. What’s Wrong?
Odds are, your baking powder is fizzled out. Put a little in a heat safe bowl, and pour on a splash of boiling water. It should fizz up immediately and with vigor. If it just foams or bubbles with a lack of enthusiasm, your baking powder needs to be replaced.
Special Diet Notes: Baked Cake Donuts
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, nut-free, peanut-free, and optionally soy-free.
For egg-free and vegan baked cake donuts, see my Egg Substitute Guide. Most powdered egg substitutes work well. If using another egg substitute option that doesn’t contain leavener, I would add another 1/4 teaspoon baking powder (unless you live at high altitude).
For gluten-free dairy-free baked cake donuts, substitute your favorite gluten-free flour blend for baking. Do not use a single flour, and do not attempt to use paleo flours, like coconut flour or almond flour. The results may vary based on the flour blend you use. I’ve only tested this recipe gluten-free with eggs. I do not recommend omitting the eggs if you are using a gluten-free flour blend.
- 2 cups white-whole wheat flour (can sub all-purpose flour)
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch or tapioca starch
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup dairy-free buttery spread
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 cup lite canned coconut milk
- 2 eggs (see post above for vegan option)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Icing or Toppings (see post above for several options)
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF and grease the wells of a couple donut pans (see FAQs in post above if you don't have donut pans). The amount will depend on the size of your donut pans.
- Place the flour, sugar, starch, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the buttery spread and zest and whisk until a coarse meal forms.
- Heat the coconut milk until hot, but not boiling (I do 30 seconds on HIGH in the microwave).
- Add the heated coconut milk, eggs and vanilla to the flour mixture and stir until just combine with no flour streaks remaining (there will be little lumps). Do not over mix.
- Fill the donut wells with the batter up to the top of the center hole (do not cover the center!).
- Bake the donuts for about 10 minutes, or until just set. They will still be fairly light in color. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, before running a knife to loosen (if needed) and removing them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Powdered Sugar: While still warm, dust the donuts with powdered sugar.
Cinnamon Sugar: In a bowl, whisk together ½ cup sugar with 1 to 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, to taste. While the donuts are still warm, brush them with a little melted buttery spread and coat them in the cinnamon sugar.
Glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk together 1½ cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons dairy-free milk alternative, and 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract. Whisk in a little more milk alternative, 1 teaspoon at a time, if needed to create a thin icing. Dip the cooled donuts in the glaze, and set on a rack over parchment paper until set.
Chocolate Icing: In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar, ¼ cup dairy-free milk alternative (or lite coconut milk), 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, and 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract. Whisk in more milk alternative, as needed, to get a thin icing. Dip the donut tops half way down into the icing, and turn right side up. If desired, top with sprinkles. Let set.
Whipped Cream Frosting: See my Strawberry Shortcake Donuts Recipe.