Donut Throwndown: Cake Vs. Yeast Donuts

A teenage girl being silly holding two donuts over her eyes in Sagle, Idaho.

You’re either a cake donut person or a yeast donut person, but you’re probably not both. This article will reveal the differences between cake and yeast donuts.

Certain foods inspire a passionate preference in people.

New England-style clam chowder or Manhattan? Chicago-style deep-dish pizza or New York thin slices? Or maybe the wild card: Detroit-style!

Many arguments have ensued over which version of a fav food is the correct one.

The divide between cake and yeast donuts is no different — most people have a preference.

If you haven’t picked a side yet, read on to learn about the differences between yeast and cake donuts.

The Big Donut Debate

You can’t know which team to cheer for if you don’t have all the info. Below, we’ll dig into some tasty facts to help you decide.

Cake Donuts: It’s All About the Leavening, Baby

Do cake donuts take the cake for you? Let’s learn about how they’re made and where they came from to find out.

How They’re Made

Cake donuts are made using baking soda and/or baking powder as their leavening agent. This means they don’t require a long proofing period before frying. It also means that they have a crisp outer shell and tend to be a little crumbly.

A cake donut is either soft and fluffy like cake (hence the name) or a little denser, like a muffin. A cake donut is also sweet on its own, even before glazing or frosting.

A Little History

The history of cake donuts is not as long as that of the yeast donut, but it is thoroughly American! Recipes for cake donuts first appeared in American cookbooks in the 1830s, which is when baking soda/powder first became commercially available.

Part of the popularity of cake donuts can be credited to World War I, when the Salvation Army began offering donuts and coffee to American soldiers in France. Donut girls served up cake donuts to homesick soldiers, giving them a small taste of home.

Yeast Donuts: Rise Up, Rise Up!

Now that you know all about their rival, it’s time to go over yeast donuts. Will they rise their way into your heart?

How They’re Made

yeast donut is, like the name suggests, made using yeast as the leavening agent. The dough must be left to rise for several hours. This makes them lighter and airier than cake donuts.

Yeast donuts tend to be puffy and have a slightly yeasty flavor. They are also usually unsweetened, getting their sweet flavor from a glaze or sugar topping.

A Little History

The yeast donut is the original donut, predating cake donuts by many centuries. We know this because yeast has been around much longer than the chemical leaveners used to make cake donuts.

People have been frying up their bread for as long as they’ve been baking it! The ancient Romans actually fried pieces of pastry dough and covered them with honey.

The Dutch were probably the biggest contributor to donuts as we know them. They made olykoeks (oil cakes), which were balls of dough fried in pig fat.

They brought these tasty treats with them when they immigrated to the United States.

Cake or Yeast: Pick Your Position

There you have it! Cake versus yeast donuts in a, uh, donut box.

It’s a contentious debate not likely to be settled anytime soon. And let’s not even get into whether it should be donuts or doughnuts!

Have some strong feelings on this one? Leave a comment below and tell us which donut deserves your devotion.