They say you learn something new every day.
What did I learn today?
That digging into a mushy mass of cake crumbs and cream cheese frosting is strangely yet thoroughly enjoyable.
You’ve all heard of a cake ball, yes? In case you haven’t, it’s essentially cake crumbs glued together by frosting and compacted into a sphere. Cake pops, balls, and bites are all the rage, so I figured, Sure, what the heck? It’s about time I got my cake ball groove on.
But I couldn’t make just an ordinary cake ball. No. I’m allergic to 100% traditional recipes. So, I made a cake ball doughnut (or “donut” if you’d prefer to omit the “ugh”).
At the onset of this adventure, I hadn’t a clue if it would work. But if Bakerella can shape Pooh bears, Santa hats, and Mr. Potato Heads out of crumb-frosting mush, I thought I’d surely be able to form a silly doughnut.
The concept of cake balls seemed simple enough. Bake a cake, cool the cake, ravage the cake, whip up some frosting, combine said frosting with said cake, indiscreetly swipe a few globs of sugary mush, feel overwhelmed by sugar in sugary mush, shape remaining sugary mush into blobs, place blobs in refrigerator, and roll blobs in candy melts. Easy enough, right?
Wrong. Unless you have an afternoon to blow or a small army of workers, it’s time-consuming (albeit fun). However, I went the homemade route whereas many before me have taken the cake-mix-and-pre-packaged-frosting short-cut. My advice to you? Forget patience, young grasshopper! There’s a time and a place to use Pillsbury and this is it.
Though my hairbrained doughnut idea proved possible, it was more difficult than one might imagine. The stubborn mush was resistant to curving. Nevertheless, I tamed that crumb-frosting mush with persistance and it eventually succumbed to sheer will.
And as you can see, the end result is reminiscent of a pale Hostess Donette. With sprinkles.
How can one resist?
Cake Ball Doughnuts or Donuts
Yield: 18-22 doughnuts, depending on size
(Adapted from Cooks Illustrated)
- 2-1/2 cups (10 ounces) cake flour
- 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
- 1/2 cup Stevia or other sugar substitute
- 1/4 cup Saco cultured buttermilk blend (or omit Saco and water, replacing with 1 cup regular buttermilk)
- 1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 6 egg yolks
- 3 egg whites
- 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 6 ounces fat free or reduced fat cream cheese
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup oblong rainbow sprinkles (optional)*
- 1 bag white candy melts
- Rainbow sprinkles
- To begin preparing cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9″x13″ pan.
- Whisk together flour, 1 cup sugar, Stevia, Saco cultured buttermilk (if using), baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, water (or regular buttermilk), oil, vanilla, and egg yolks.
- Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, continuing to beat until stiff peaks form. Transfer to bowl and set aside.
- Add flour mixture to now-empty mixing bowl. Add butter mixture while mixer is at low speed, mixing until fully incorporated. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in egg whites. Gently fold in sprinkles if desired.
- Pour batter into greased pan. Bake 22-26 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cake cool completely (I put mine in the refrigerator to speed up the process).
- To make frosting, cream butter with electric mixer. Add cream cheese and vanilla, beating until incorporated. Add confectioners’ sugar and beat several minutes or until fluffy.
- Slice cake into 6 large pieces. Crumble into a large bowl by splitting each sixth in half and rubbing the two halves together. Continue process until cake is completely crumbled.
- Add 1-1/2 cups cream cheese frosting to cake crumbs and work it in with clean hands. If necessary, add additional frosting to achieve a moist mush that holds together.
- Grab a piece of mush and gradually form into a thick rope. Gently curl rope around into doughnut shape, recompacting and reshaping mush as necessary. Meld together rope ends and place finished doughnut onto large baking sheet.
- Repeat step 9 with remaining mush. Place cake ball doughnuts in refrigerator to set for at least 2 hours, or until ready to decorate.
- Microwave candy melts in a microwave-safe bowl at 50% power in 30 second intervals. Stir after each interval.
- Carefully place cake ball doughnut, bottom side up, into melted candy. Very gently flip over doughnut to coat opposite side. Remove doughnut with a spoon and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Decorate with rainbow sprinkles.
- As candy cools around doughnut, take a toothpick and run it around edges of doughnut. This makes excess candy easy to trim off doughnut once cooled.
- Repeat steps 12-13 with remaining doughnuts.
*Note: When adding sprinkles directly to this cake batter, sprinkles may sink to bottom. However, commenter Tina found success with adding sprinkles to the crumb-frosting mush. I’d recommend the latter method.