Which Is The Superior Donut: A Cake Donut Or A Yeast Donut?

It's a debate that may never end.

The world of donuts is divided into two camps: cake and yeast. (You could also argue that there are two more camps: doughnut and donut.) If you don’t know the difference between the two types of fried cakes, here’s a quick explainer:

A cake donut is made with a sweetened dough that’s leavened with the help of baking powder, and is extruded into oil to cook. It’s firm, often with a slightly crunchy exterior and a soft, cake-like interior. This is what a cake donut usually looks like.

A beautiful pile of sugar-coated cake donuts.
The Washington Post via Getty Images
A beautiful pile of sugar-coated cake donuts.

Cake donuts include apple cider donuts, chocolate cake donuts with glaze, and those crunchy, old fashioned donuts that are sometimes glazed and sometimes not.

Yeast, aka raised (because the dough is raised) donuts, are your classic glazed donut ― the kind you get from Krispy Kreme. A yeast donut is made with a yeast dough. It’s cut out into a shape before being fried to golden, dough-y perfection. They’re light and airy, but have a chew and a slight yeast flavor. They are almost always glazed, frosted, sprinkled or filled (they’re what jelly donuts are made of).

This is what a yeast donut generally looks like:

A closeup of a box of Krispy Kreme glazed donuts.
Joe Raedle via Getty Images
A closeup of a box of Krispy Kreme glazed donuts.

Here’s what’s clear: the two donuts are not created equal ― and most everyone can agree on that. We turned to some experts to hear their thoughts.

First there’s Wylie Dufresne, the man behind the now-closed WD~50, who opened Du’s Donuts so he could devote himself to cake donuts.

“With a yeast donut, you’re paying for a lot of air,” he told HuffPost. The problem with yeast donuts, Dufresne said, is that “they’re often filled, and when they are they’re overfilled and when they’re not filled and they’re just glazed, they can come across a little sweet.”

But he was diplomatic in his stance on the two. “I don’t like to say that a cake donut is better than a yeast donut, I like to say I prefer a cake over yeast. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with a yeast donut, but when it comes to donuts I prefer cake ― I feel like a cake donut can stand up to glazing icing a bit more than a yeast or a raised donut can.”

Fany Gerson, the woman behind Brooklyn’s beloved Dough Doughnuts, begs to differ. Dough makes the lightest, fluffiest yeast donuts you’ll ever taste. She told HuffPost via email, “[Yeast donuts] are my favorite kind of doughnut.” The reason being, she explained, is that cake donuts, “are often more oily and can be dry. (But a good one is really awesome.)”

In an effort to be impartial, we also took an informal newsroom pool at HuffPost. The answers from our writers and editors were passionate and quick-fired, and instilled a good amount of debate.

Exhibit A

This is a response from a yeast donut lover:

This is what yeast lovers thinks about cake donuts.
This is what yeast lovers thinks about cake donuts.

Here are some responses to the question “cake vs. raised” from raised donut fans:

  • “Raised. End of Discussion.”
  • “Raised. They’re fluffy fried goodness and cake just can’t compare.”
  • “Raised. Cake donuts are just alternatively shaped cupcakes or muffins. They live an existence of lies.”
  • “Raised, with the ONE EXCEPTION of cinnamon-sugar apple cider doughnuts, which seem to usually be in cake form.”
  • “Raised donuts. I use cake donuts to hold up wobbly desks.”

Here are responses from team cake donut:

  • “Cake donuts 4 life. <―- also going to be my new tattoo.”
  • “Cake. Density gives the sweetness and flavor a better chance to shine. And they make better sinkers ― I would NOT dunk a raised doughnut.”
  • “Cake, because they have those crispy, deep-fried edges.”
  • “Cake, cake, 1000x cake.”
  • “Cake is the complete winner here. You want a treat that’s satisfying? Cake donuts are filling and delicious, and last far longer than their inferior counterparts because there’s just more *oompf* behind them and less wasteful air. Also, apple fritters are cake donuts and there’s honestly nothing better on this planet.”

So through all this enthusiasm, which type rules the donuts?

In our poll, there were just as many fans in camp yeast as there were in camp cake. We wondered if we may have had a bad sampling, but a quick conversation with Mark Israel from the Doughnut Plant confirmed what our poll suggested.

Doughnut Plant makes both yeast and cake donuts, and they make both extremely well. When asked which variety is more popular, Israel told HuffPost, “In our sales it’s actually almost 50/50. You’d think it was one over the other, but it’s really, really close ― that close ― very close. I’m sure there are people that prefer one over the other, but it kind of evens out.“

Even! That’s right. The passion for each is strong ― and so too is the disdain for the other. But in the end, it’s equal. Donuts for everyone!

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