This Mexican Churro Cake is super easy, actually ridiculously easy. It's also a delicious, tender-crumbed cake with swirls of cinnamon and a crisp cinnamon sugar-coated topping.
Does anyone out there find warm golden-crusted Churros coated with a soft blanket of sweet cinnamon sugar irresistible? If you're raising your hand (like I am), you're going to LOVE this Ridiculously Easy Mexican Churro Cake that will take you less than 15 minutes to put together!
What's a Churro?
Although churros have become popular in recent years (especially since Costco put them on their food court menu a while back), I'm sure there are people out there who have never had the pleasure of biting into one of these delicious confections. So what is a churro? According to Merriam Webster, a churro " is a pastry resembling a doughnut or cruller and is made from deep-fried unsweetened dough and sprinkled with sugar (and cinnamon)".
Here in the States, we often think of churros as originating in Mexico (and being popular in our Southwestern states), but churros are also a common sweet treat in Spain, Portugal, the Philippines and other Latin American countries besides Mexico. Who knew?
We're calling this recipe Ridiculously Easy Mexican Churro Cake because it's so quick and easy to put together that it falls into our category of recipes we call our Ridiculously Easy Collection. If you're looking for recipes that will make you look like a kitchen rock star with minimal effort on your part, just click on the link above and you'll see the whole delicious line-up.
How to make this Churro Cake?
This recipe is actually a close cousin to our French Grandmother Lemon Yogurt Cake. If you've made that one or any of our other adaptations, like our French Butter Cake or our French Almond Cake or Grammy's Chocolate Yogurt Cake, you know how easy it is! If not, this is how the basic recipe works:
- Whisk together the yogurt, sugar and eggs.
- Add the baking powder and salt and stir till combined.
- Add the flour and whisk again.
- Add the oil and whisk until smooth and creamy.
- Bake, cool, brush with the glaze and top with cinnamon and sugar.
That's it! See what I mean, easy! Ridiculously Easy!
A crisp glazed crust
Besides having fabulous flavor and a delicious tender crumb, this Mexican Churro Cake also has a thin crisp, candy-like glaze that seals in the moisture and gives the cake a beautiful presentation.
The glaze is a simple mixture of powdered sugar, apple juice (or water), a pat of butter and a splash of vanilla. It's brushed on after the cake comes out of the oven and transforms to a sweet shiny glaze as it dries.
This Mexican Churro Cake has one extra step that creates a wonderful surprise when you cut into the cake. Before adding the batter to the pan, remove a ½ cup to a small bowl then add brown sugar, cinnamon and a splash of milk to the reserved batter. This batter is the magic that creates a beautiful swirled effect on the inside of the cake. Check it out!
There are two ways to create the cinnamon swirl:
- The first technique looks fancy but simply involves adding the two batters to the cake pan alternately.
- Start with the plain batter and add enough to come near the edges of the pan (about ¼ of the batter). Next, pour about a ¼ of the cinnamon batter on top of the plain right in the center. Continue this 3 more times until both batters are all used up. There is a lot more of the plain batter, so you'll pour more of that with each turn. You don't have to be super exact with this. Each cake is a new creation! You can see from my picture below that I didn't get things just perfect.
- When you're all finished, your batter will look something like this:
- And when you cut into the cake, it will be beautiful and bring little gasps of delight from your family, friends, guests...
- The 2nd technique is great when you're pinched for time. Simply pour half of the plain batter into the cake pan then add half of the cinnamon batter in spoonfuls. Repeat and then run a knife through the batter back and forth a few times to make a swirl pattern. The result will be more like a marble cake but still very pretty!
Either way, the result is super fun, SUPER delicious and no one will guess the surprise that's revealed with the first slice!
I served this Mexican Churro Cake last night for a family get-together. There wasn't a crumb left on any of the plates and I noticed the grandchildren kept sneaking to the kitchen to cut "one more little sliver". It definitely got a thumbs up from the kids and adults alike. I think you'll get the same response!
Café Tips for making this Ridiculously Easy Mexican Churro Cake
- I often use Greek yogurt for this cake but you can also use regular yogurt. Buttermilk or sour cream will also work
- I'm a big fan of butter in cake recipes. This cake calls for oil (no butter) and I was a bit skeptical until I actually tasted the cake. Don't be tempted to substitute butter. I tried that and the cake was much drier. The oil keeps the cake light, yet moist at the same time. And the flavor is wonderful!
- Any type of neutral-flavored oil works well in this recipe. I have made it with sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil and avocado oil. They all work well.
- Just like our French Grandmother Lemon Yogurt Cake mentioned above, the flat bottom of the cake becomes the top after baking. You'll turn the cake out of the pan onto a cooling rack and transfer it to your cake plate in that same position.
- Brush the glaze on slowly and let it soak in. Some of it will drip off, but most will be absorbed by the cake and will form the delicious buttery sweet glaze. Use all but about two tablespoons of the glaze. Let the first coat of glaze dry then give the top of the cake one more coat with this reserved glaze. This last coat will help the cinnamon/sugar to adhere.
- This recipe calls for a 2-inch deep, 8-inch pan. Not all 8-inch pans are that deep. If you don’t have an 8-inch pan that’s at least 2-inches deep, you might want to use a 9-inch pan (the cake won't be as high) or an 8-inch springform pan.
- I love this 8-inch baking pan. It has a nice, textured non-stick finish, is super sturdy and comes through the dishwasher beautifully!
- I love these pre-cut parchment paper rounds. They're reasonably priced, super convenient and save lots of time when baking cakes.
- This cake freezes well, although the glaze won’t be as crisp when it’s thawed. I freeze the cake uncovered for an hour until it’s mostly frozen then wrap it tightly with plastic wrap. Freezing it uncovered keeps the cake from getting smushed when you’re wrapping it.
- The best way to check if a cake is done is with an instant thermometer. Instant thermometers are reasonably priced and are invaluable to determine whether cakes, cupcakes, meats, etc. are done. Cakes will be done when the internal temp reaches 205-210˚F (96-99˚C).
- This cake recipe calls for apple juice in the glaze. Don't go out and buy apple juice just for this recipe. Water also works fine.
Thought for the day:
I have set the Lord always before me.
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
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- ½ cup plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup neutral-flavored oil ie - canola, vegetable, sunflower, safflower, avocado or grapeseed
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar I use dark brown
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon milk
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- ¼ cup apple juice or water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon butter I use salted but unsalted will also work.
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350˚F (175˚C). Spray an 8-inch round cake pan (with 2-inch or taller sides) with baking spray, rub inside surface of pan with a paper towel to cover evenly with the spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper and spray parchment paper lightly. Set aside.
In a medium-large bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar, eggs and the vanilla extracts. Whisk until well blended.
Add the baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine then add the flour and whisk again just until all of the flour is blended in.
Add the oil and stir well. Don't worry, at first it will seem to separate but keep stirring till smooth.
Remove ½ cup of the batter to a medium-size bowl (the bowl should be at least one cup) or a 1 cup measuring cup with a spout (works best). Add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar (light or dark), 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1 tablespoon milk to this batter. Stir until nice and smooth.
Pour approximately (doesn’t have to be exact) ¼ of the plain mixture into the prepared pan, pouring into the center of the pan and allowing the batter to spread. The mixture will spread out and cover about ¾ of the bottom of the pan. Now pour approximately ¼ of the cinnamon batter on top of the plain batter in the pan. Again, pour right in the center of the pan.
Continue this pattern, each time pouring into the center of the pan, until both batters are used up. Because there is much more of the plain batter, each pour will be more than the cinnamon batter pours. There is a pictorial tutorial of this above in the post to make these directions more easy to understand.
Place the cake in the preheated oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the cake feels springy to the touch and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean or the center of the cake registers 200-205˚F on an instant thermometer (best way to tell when a cake is done). Be careful not to overbake. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 8 minutes, then flip it out onto a cooling rack (the bottom of the cake will become the top). While the cake is cooling in the pan, prepare the glaze.
Combine the powdered sugar, apple juice (or water) and vanilla in a small microwave-safe bowl. Stir until well combined. Add the butter and place in the microwave. Cook on high power for 60-90 seconds until the butter is melted. Stir well.
Slowly brush approximately ¾ of the glaze over the top and sides of the cake. Some of the glaze will drip off but a lot of it will be absorbed by the cake. Keep brushing until there’s about ¼ left. Set the remaining glaze aside and allow the glaze to set. In the meantime, prepare the Churro cinnamon sugar topping.
Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Stir well to combine. Set aside.
When the glaze on the cake is dry to the touch. Brush the top of the cake with the remaining glaze then immediately sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture (use as much as you prefer). Serve and enjoy!!
Cake will keep well for 24 hours at room temperature. I keep my under my cake dome. You could also wrap it with plastic wrap.
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips to ensure success. There is also a pictoral tutorial for how to pour the batter into the pan.
If you prefer to use Metric measurements there is a button in each of our recipes, right above the word “Instructions”. Just click that button to toggle to grams, milliliters, etc. If you ever come across one of our recipes that doesn’t have the Metric conversion (some of the older recipes may not), feel free to leave a comment and I will add it.