Bagel Cake

When I used to take cake orders (back in 2016) I received a pretty unique request. Someone wanted a cake for a bagel and lox enthusiast. At first, I was stumped over the idea of a bagel cake.

I thought about it for a while and then the concept finally came together in my mind. 

Fluffy buttermilk cake layers, cream cheese frosting, and mini donut “bagels”on top!!

To me, a bagel and lox sandwich isn’t complete without tomatoes, onions and capers. With that in mind, this cake ended up having a lot of different components.

From fondant lox to a sweet everything bagel seasoning (sanding sugar, poppy seeds, sesame seeds and a bit of sea salt), I went a bit over the top with this one.

But I have no regrets. I really do feel like this bagel cake captures the best parts of a delicious bagel and lox sandwich.

image of bagel cake made with cream cheese frosting and decorated with the cutest little dessert bagels made from donuts

Picking The Right Frosting

This was the one easy decision about this cake. To me, it was a no brainer to use cream cheese frosting.

I love my cream cheese frosting because it has that wonderful tangy flavor, but it’s sturdy enough to be used in layer cakes and for piping!

If you or whoever you’re making this cake for isn’t a fan of cream cheese frosting, I’d recommend using a batch of my vanilla American buttercream instead.

https://chelsweets.com/2016/11/01/the-best-american-buttercream-recipe/

Making This Bagel Cake in Phases

Like I mentioned above, there are a lot of components to this cake. But don’t worry, you can make this cake in stages to break up the time commitment.

I made my cake layers and frosting in advance, and colored the fondant ahead of time with gel food coloring. This allowed me to put all my creative energy into the cake decoration when the time came.

I highly recommend you do the same! It makes actually decorating the cake so much more fun.

image of bagel cake decorated with mini bagels

How Do You Make a Dessert Bagel??

Hands down, the best part of this cake is its little dessert bagels.

But what the heck is a dessert bagel? And is that a name I just made up? Yes, yes it is.

To me, dessert bagels are just baked donuts decorated to look like bagels! I filled a regular sized and mini donut pan half way up with my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe, and the rest is history.

I also created a “sweet” everything bagel seasoning with some poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and sanding sugar.

The trick to getting the seasoning to stick to the baked donuts is to drizzle some honey over the top of each donut. It works like a charm, and makes the little “bagels” tastes great too.

image of mini dessert bagels being made from baked donuts to decorate a bagel cake

I went all out with the fillings, but you can customize your bagel sandwich and it however you like!

My bagel fillings were made with colored fondant, but you could also use marzipan or other candy (like orange airheads for the lox and some skittles for the capers) to create your fillings.

Tips for Making The Best Bagel Cake:

  • Level your cake layers with a serrated knife and trim away and dark caramelization to make picture perfect cake layers. This also makes it much easier to assemble and frost your cake.
  • Chill your cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before assembling the cake, to make it easier to stack and frost.
  • You can make your own buttermilk if you don’t any! Simply add 1 Tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of whole milk
  • Mix your cake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated. This will ensure your cake layers are tender and fluffy
  • Be sure to properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients
  • Customize your mini dessert bagels however you want! Or keep things simple by filling them with some of the cream cheese frosting.
image of bagel cake made with cream cheese frosting and decorated with mini bagel donuts

Making This Bagel Cake In Advance & Storage Tips:

  • Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.
  • Make your frosting ahead of time too, or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
  • The mini bagels (baked donuts) can be made up to 5 days in advance. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature.
  • A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!
  • If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.
  • Don’t add the mini bagels to the cake until the day you plan to serve it. That way they’ll stay nice and moist.

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you try this bagel cake recipe, I’d love to hear what think of it! Please leave a rating, and let me know your thoughts by sharing a comment.

image of chelsey white of chelsweets with a bagel cake inspired by her favorite bagel and lox sandwich
Yield: 24

Bagel Cake

image of bagel cake made with cream cheese frosting and decorated with mini bagel donuts

This bagel inspired cake is made with fluffy white cake layers, cream cheese frosting, and mini dessert bagels!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients

Vanilla Cake Recipe

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (390 grams)
  • 3 cups granulated sugar (600 grams)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder (10 grams)
  • 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (226 grams) - 2 sticks
  • 1 cup pasteurized egg whites from a carton (or about 7 egg whites) (235 grams)
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature (345 grams)
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil (28 grams)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (8 grams)

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (339 grams) - 3 sticks
  • 1/2 cup full-fat cream cheese, room temperature (113 grams or 4 oz.)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste (8 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (3 grams)
  • 7 cups powdered sugar (904 grams) or a 2lb bag
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream (or whipping cream) (29 grams)

Mini Bagels

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (162 grams)
  • 1 cup sugar (212 grams)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (6 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (2 grams)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (114 grams)
  • 1/2 cup water (118 grams)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (8 gram)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (54 grams)
  • 1 large egg, room temp (56 grams)

Sweet Everything Seasoning

  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup granulated or sanding sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp honey (14 grams)

Bagel Filling (optional)

  • 1/2 cup orange fondant
  • 1/4 cup red fondant
  • 1/4 cup white fondant
  • 1 Tbsp light green fondant

Instructions

Vanilla Cake Layers:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line three 8" pans with parchment rounds, and grease with non-stick baking spray.
  2. Mix together 3 cups all purpose flour, 3 cups sugar, 2 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp salt in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or hand mixer until fully combined.
  3. Mix in 1 cup of unsalted butter slowly into the dry ingredients on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain and the mixture looks crumbly.
  4. Pour in 1 cup of egg whites and mix on low until just incorporated. Mix in 1 1/2 cups buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed.
  5. Add in 2 tsp of vanilla extract and 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated.
  6. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then beat on a low speed for about 30 seconds to make sure everything is properly mixed together.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between your prepared pans. I like to use a digital scale to make sure each pan has the same amount of batter, so that each cake layer is the same height.
  8. Bake for 34-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Allow the pans to cool for 10 minutes, then run a small offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan.
  9. Place cake layers into the freezer for 30 minutes to accelerate the cooling process. Once the layers are fully cooled, carefully flip the pans and remove the layers.
  10. Use a serrated knife to level the tops of the layers right before you plan to assemble your cake, or you can wrap and freeze them in you're making them in advance.
  11. If you make these cake layers in advance and freeze them, let them thaw for about 20 minutes before making your cake. The cake layers should still be slightly cold to the touch, which will make it easier to assemble your cake.

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:

  1. While the cake layers bake and cool, make the cream cheese buttercream frosting.
  2. Beat 1 1/2 cups of unsalted butter with 1/2 cup of cream cheese on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth.
  3. Mix in 2 tsp of vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste and 1/2 tsp salt on a low speed.
  4. Slowly add in 7 cups of powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with 2 Tbsp of heavy cream or milk.
  5. Continue to mix on low speed for a few minutes, until the desired consistency is reached. 
  6. If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 TBSP at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Mini Bagels:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
  2. Heavily greasing a regular sized donut pan and a mini donut pan.
  3. Add 1 1/4 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt to a large mixer bowl and gently mix. Add 1/2 cup buttermilk and gently stir until just combined.
  4. Add in 1/2 cup water, 2 tsp vanilla and 1/4 cup vegetable oil. Mix by hand with a large spoon or whisk until the batter comes together.
  5. Next, mix in 1 large egg until well combined.
  6. Place batter into a piping bag, and cut a small opening (less than 1 cm). Fill the pans to make 6 normal sized donuts, and about 20 mini donuts.
  7. Carefully pipe the batter in a circle to fill each donut mold. Fill about 1/2 full. If you overfill the pans, they will bake out of the mold and lose their perfect circular shape.
  8. Bake regular sized donuts for 17-19 minutes, and mini donuts 12-13 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean).
  9. Allow the donuts to cool before drizzle them with 2 Tbsp of honey.
  10. Combine 1/4 cup poppy seeds, 1/4 cup sesame seeds, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 tsp salt into a bowl, and stir until combined. Dunk the donuts into the seasoning, until the tops are coated.

To Assemble This Bagel Cake:

  1. Stack and frost cake layers on a greaseproof cake board, using a dab of frosting to help stick the first cake layer to the board.
  2. Add an even layer of cream cheese buttercream between each cake layer with a large offset spatula.
  3. Add a thin coat of frosting around the cake, fully cover the cake layers.
  4. Smooth using a bench scraper, then chill the cake in the fridge (20 minutes) or freezer (5 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.
  5. Add a second, thicker layer of frosting to the cake, and smooth using a bench scraper.
  6. Chill again in the fridge (20 minutes) or freezer (5 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.
  7. Pipe or spread a thin ring of frosting around the base of the cake. Gently press the mini bagels along the bottom of the cake to create a boarded.
  8. If desired, use the different colored fondant to make your desired bagel toppings! I made some lox, tomatoes, onions, and capers.
  9. Add some cream cheese frosting and optional fillings into the larger bagel donuts, and place them on top of the cake. I found that adding a dab of frosting underneath each bagel helped keep it in place.

Notes

Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them: It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.

Make your frosting ahead of time too, or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!

If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.

Nutrition Information

Yield

24

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 368Total Fat 23gSaturated Fat 13gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 58mgSodium 261mgCarbohydrates 38gFiber 0gSugar 26gProtein 4g

4 thoughts on “Bagel Cake

  1. I made the small batch vanilla cake as a first-time trial for making a layer cake and it was excellent! I made the buttercream, which was so delicious, but it made a lot! Would I be able to freeze the icing? How about making the cakes ahead of time… would they freeze well? Thanks for sharing your awesome recipes!!

  2. Hi there! I love making your cakes! My biggest struggle is FONDANT!! It drives me insane! Any tips to help? Or any special recipes? No matter how cold I try to keep my apartment it always seems to just melt right away in my hands! I tried making it once but it was a disaster so now I try to put up with “sweetshop” by tylina brand and it just melts and gets sticky so quick I can’t even roll it out! Whats the secret to working with fondant? xx

    1. Haha Molly I hear you!! I actually despise working with it myself! I use satin ice, but it dries really quickly and tends to crack if you don’t move fast enough. I’ve heard wilton is the easiest to work! In general, I just try to do everything I can with buttercream, but there are def some cakes that you can’t avoid it.

Let me know what you think!