breakfast donut ball coffee cake recipe

filed under: Coffee Cakes on January 5, 2015

This decadent breakfast cake made from classic coffee cake recipe and donut balls is a indulgent and beautiful way to start any day!

Not really sure why I did this, but I can’t say I am ashamed. I mean, I know it’s wrong. Here it is January and everyone is making green smoothies and eating salmon (love both by the way) and I am making cakes with donuts on them covered in layers of sugary glaze.


Breakfast Donut Ball Coffee Cake
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
55 mins
20 mins
Total Time
1 hr 35 mins

This decadent breakfast cake made from classic coffee cake recipe and donut balls is a indulgent and beautiful way to start any day!

Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Breakfast Donut Ball Coffee Cake
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Amanda Rettke
  • 3/4 c butter room temperatire
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 c granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 c sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1 1/4 c milk
  • 3 3/4 c All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 c confectioners sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla optional
  • 1 pkg donut balls
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare two 8-inch round cake pans.
  2. Prepare the filling by mixing together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
  1. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, salt, sugars, baking powder, and vanilla until well combined and smooth.

  2. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream or yogurt and milk till well combined.
  4. Add the flour to the butter mixture alternately with the milk/sour cream mixture, beating gently to combine.

  5. Pour/spread half the batter, roughly 1 1/3 cups, in each pan.
  6. Sprinkle the filling evenly atop the batter.
  7. Spread the remaining batter atop the filling. Use a table knife to gently swirl the filling into the batter, as though you were making a marble cake. Don't combine filling and batter thoroughly; just swirl the filling through the batter.

  8. Bake the cake until it's a dark golden brown around the edges; medium-golden with no light patches showing on top, 50 to 55 minutes for the 8" round pans. When pressed gently in the middle, the cake should spring back. If the cake starts to get too brown, cover with aluminum foil for remaining cooking time.

  9. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 20 minutes before cutting and serving.
To assemble cake:
  1. Prepare glaze. You will want the glaze to be slightly firm, much like a thick pancake batter. The thicker the glaze is the most white it will appear, the runnier it is the more translucent it will become. Vanilla is options for purely vanity reasons. Omit if you prefer a bright white glaze.

  2. Place one layer of coffee cake on cake stand and cover in about 1/4 cup of glaze.
  3. Place other layer of coffee cake on top of that. Cover in about 1/4 cup of glaze, letting some spill over sides.

  4. Let glaze set for about 15 minutes or long enough that it is no longer wet to the tough.
  5. Starting at the center, place a donut ball on the cake. Nestle it into the glaze and make sure it is stuck.
  6. Start placing donut balls around center ball until you can covered the cake.
  7. Take remaining glaze and add up to 1 teaspoon more of milk. It will spill over the donut balls easier if it is runny. Pour about 1/4 cup of glaze over layer of donut balls letting it spill over and down sides of cake.

  8. Place another layer of donut balls on top of existing layer and add more glaze. Go as high as you are comfortable with.

  9. When all done pour remaining glaze over cake (or not, it just depends on how much glaze you want!) and then refrigerate until ready to serve. The fridge helps the glaze to set quickly so that the donut balls do not slide off.

  10. When read to serve, cut into cake with a sharp knife and then place piece on plate. Heat piece of cake for 15-30 seconds or until warm and gooey.



Donut Ball Cake! A layer coffee cake covered in donut balls covered in glaze!It just seemed to make sense in my sugar-fueled brain.

Let me explain why I think it would be ok for you too…

One slice of this breakfast cake is the equivalent of a white glaze covered long john with vanilla custard filling. And most people can tolerate one donut in the morning, so having one slice of a breakfast cake shouldn’t be as obnoxious as it probably seems.

See? See? I am just trying to keep the universe in balance here.

Coffee Breakfast Cake! A layer coffee cake covered in donut balls covered in glaze!

And truth be told… I am kinda in love with the idea.  It seems so indulgent and so fabulous… I just felt devilishly decadent having a slice for breakfast.

Why not start your day with a carefree and rebellious attitude?  A sugar coated carefree attitude that is.

I used a recipe that I adapted from King Arthur Flour.  They have such delicious quality recipes, don’t they?

Coffee Breakfast Cake! A layer coffee cake covered in donut balls covered in glaze!

Hint for Success:

Having a perfect glaze consistency can save you lots of drama. If it is thick enough to still drip but not runny, you are gold.  We want it to act as a glue to hold the donut balls in place.

It is easiest to cut into this cake while it is cold, but it is best served warm.  You can certainly make it and eat immediately, just be prepared for a donut ball avalanche. (which doesn’t sound half bad…)

I prepared the cake in 8-inch round cake pans and this produces a thick cake.  Other options are a 9-inch round, 9×13, and even a bundt.  If you choose a 9×13 you may need more donut balls.

If you want to save some preparation from your morning routine, consider making the batter the night before.  (from King Arthur’s site) They recommend preparing the batter, wrapping with plastic wrap and refrigerating.  In the morning bake as directed.  Keep a close eye as you may need to add a couple minutes to the bake time.

This would be a fun cake to customize!  Add powered sugar donut balls or a lemony glaze.  Just remember just how fun and entertaining this cake is!

Coffee Breakfast Cake! A layer coffee cake covered in donut balls covered in glaze!So there you have it… the most decadent and ridiculous and fun and fabulous cake you will ever seen served for breakfast!

Coffee Breakfast Cake! A layer coffee cake covered in donut balls covered in glaze!

It tastes pretty amazing with afternoon coffee too.  #justsayin

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  • Beth says:

    Amanda, you are amazing and this has got to be my favorite breakfast food EVER!!!

    • Amanda says:

      You are my favoritest person ever. 🙂

  • Kerry @ Kerry Cooks says:

    Ooh this looks so good and I LOVE you for calling it breakfast! I can’t help but think that if I made it I’d take a doughnut ball off every time I walked past!

    • Amanda says:

      Ha ha… the trick is to buy extra so you can snack. 😉

  • Lisa @ Garnish with Lemon says:

    Love this cake! The cinnamon swirls are amazing! And if I drink a green smoothie with it, everything cancels out, right? 🙂 Happy New year!

    • Amanda says:


  • Jocelyn (Grandbaby cakes) says:

    I’m insanely in love with this. And you are right! If someone can eat a hunking donut in the morning, this indulgence should be no different!

    • Amanda says:

      Right?!? I just keep telling myself that. 🙂

  • Jen @ Baked by an says:

    I love dessert for breakfast! You outdid yourself with this one, Amanda. It’s a true masterpiece.

    • Amanda says:

      So kind of you. Thank you!

  • Jocelyn @BruCrew Life says:

    You are my hero and I totally puffy heart love you!!! What an absolutely awesome breakfast cake!!! Forget the smoothies and no sugar…I need this 🙂

    • Amanda says:

      Ha ha, right back at ya!

  • Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom says:

    Amanda, even though it’s January, sweet treats and cakes and cookies and indulgent dessert is still populating and dominating Pinterest,so, girl, you’re doing something right here!!! oh my gawd, this CAKE!!! uh, hello. . I just saw you. . next time, bring a sister a slice, ok?!! Sugar-fueled people everywhere are a bit happier today because of this. 🙂

    • Amanda says:

      lol I will make you your very own cake if it means getting to hang out again!!

  • Beverley Press says:

    It all makes perfect sense to me! So I say bring it on and let’s get baking. xoxo

    • Amanda says:

      I love it!

  • Jessica @ Golden Brown and Delicious says:

    Love this…I can always justify eating cake for breakfast 🙂

    • Amanda says:

      A girl after my own heart!

  • mila furman says:

    Amanda…this looks so decadent and lovely! What a perfect dessert for a beautiful Sunday brunch…And it seems like it would hold up pretty well to being made the night before!

    • Amanda says:

      Yes, you are exactly right!

  • Allie | Baking a Moment says:

    My new year’s resolution is to enjoy life as much as possible, so cake for breakfast is practically an obligation for me 😉 Bring on the donut ball avalanche!

    • Amanda says:

      Ha ha!!! Great resolution!

  • heather @french press says:

    while I do love a green smoothie, and salon too, I will take this over those ANY day of the week 🙂 sheer genius Amanda

    • Amanda says:

      It sounds like we are of like mind. 🙂 Especially since I love your genius blog!

  • Ashley | The Recipe Rebel says:

    I am totally on board with cake for breakfast — even in January. It’s all about moderation, right?!

  • Meghan @ Spoonful of Flour says:

    Oh my goodness, this breakfast cake is unreal!

  • Jolena @TheRubyKitchen says:

    Hey if you just call it coffee cake it is perfectly acceptable. Any cake can be a coffee cake, right?! I love the look of the donut holes on top. This qualifies as a naked cake for sure!

  • Shanna @ Pineapple and Coconut says:

    Starting the New Years diet next week now because this needs to be eaten by me soon.

  • Amy @Very Culinary says:

    This is just EPIC.

  • Lisa | Mummy Made.It says:

    If I drink a green smoothie whilst I’m eating s piece of this delicious cake surely that’s a ‘balanced breakfast’?!

  • Lisa | Sweet 2 Eat Baking says:

    I’m so happy you’re posting sugar-fuelled desserts in January Amanda, because there’s always peeps like me that will never diet! 😆 Saying that, at almost 34… maybe next year, those desserts are starting to show! 😆

    But for now, rock on sweets! This looks phenomenal!

  • Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet says:

    Donuts and a cake? I AM IN! This looks fabulous!

  • Carrie @Bakeaholic Mama says:

    This cake is just so ridiculous!! I Love every little bit of it.

  • Melanie @ Carmel Moments says:

    Over the top awesome! My kids would be blown away with delight. 🙂
    Hope you had a fabulous Christmas!

  • Phi @ The Sweetphi Blog says:

    Oh my gahhhhhhh….when I saw this on Instagram I died, now seeing it in full glory…I neeeeed this! looks amazing!

  • Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust says:

    Oh, Amanda. And today is the day I stopped eating dessert. !!!

  • Teresa says:

    This looks so mouthwatering. I’m ready for an avalanche right now!

  • Don't Pass on Dessert!