Friday, December 31, 2010

Vanilla Cream Filled Doughnuts

I’ve decided that a making fancy breakfast pastry is to be reserved strictly for holidays. Not only because of the time required to make the treats, but also because these often tend to be the type of pastry that is best eaten while hot, immediately after they’re made. I’m not saying that Eric and I couldn’t eat a whole batch of pain au chocolat or doughnuts ourselves, but we really shouldn’t.

Therefore, it’s imperative to have loved ones around to not only share the joy but also the caloric intake. The holidays are all about feasting and debauchery (mild forms, anyways) but let’s not get out of hand, right?

In keeping with my new tradition of extravagant holiday breakfasts, I made homemade cream filled doughnuts for my family on Christmas morning. I’m using the term tradition here loosely, only because I couldn’t think of another word, but I’m not yet convinced I’m going to do this every year.

Maybe I’ll implement a Santa-like policy of tallying who’s naughty and who’s nice (to me, at least) and bake accordingly. If, by chance, you happen to spend the holidays with me next year and are served a bowl of yogurt for breakfast, well, you’ll know which list you made.
Vanilla Cream Filled Doughnuts
adapted from Joanne Chang’s recipe in Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe

I received a review copy of Joanne Chang’s Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe. Every recipe really does look spectacular but as soon as I turned to the page on vanilla cream filled doughnuts, I knew exactly what I’d be making first. These doughnuts aren’t so difficult to make but they do require some planning ahead to allow time for the dough to rise. I made the dough the night before, cut out the doughnuts, and retarded them in the refrigerator over night. The next morning I sped up the rise a bit by placing them in a warm oven with a steam bath. Still, we wound with doughnuts for brunch rather than breakfast. The wait (and work) was worth it. These doughnuts are a super rich treat- practically bursting with filling, they require a fork to eat them. Lookout Krispy Kreme!

1 package (2 1/2 t) active dry yeast, or 2/3 oz (18 g) fresh cake yeast
2/3 c (160 g) milk, at room temperature
3 ½ cups (490 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/3 c (270 g) sugar
2 t kosher salt
3 eggs
7 T (7/8 stick/100 g) butter, at room temperature, cut into 6 to 8 pieces
Canola oil for frying

Vanilla Cream Filling
6 T (90 grams) heavy cream
1 recipe Pastry Cream, chilled

Pastry Cream
1 ¼ c (300 g) milk
½ c (100 g) sugar
¼ c (30 g) cake flour
½ t kosher salt
4 egg yolks
1 t vanilla extract

1. To make the dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast and milk. Stir together briefly, then let sit for about 1 minute to dissolve the yeast.
2. Add the flour, 1/3 cup (70 grams) of the sugar, salt, and eggs and mix on low for about a minute, or until the dough comes together. While still on low, mix for another 2 to 3 minutes to develop the dough further. Begin to add the butter a few pieces at a time and continue to mix for 5 to 6 minutes or until the butter is fully incorporated. The dough should be soft and look cohesive.
3. Remove dough from the bowl, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.
4. Lightly flour a baking sheet. On a well floured work surface roll out the dough into a 12-inch square approximately 1/2 inch thick. Using a 3 1/2 to 4-inch round biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out 9 doughnuts.
5. Arrange the doughnuts on the prepared baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm spot to rise for 2 to 3 hours, until doubled in height. The doughnuts should look poufy and feel pillowy.
6. While the dough is rising, make the pastry cream. In a medium sauce pan, scald milk on medium high heat just until bubbles start to form around the edge of the pan. Do not allow the milk to boil.
7. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until blended, and then slowly whisk in the flour mixture. The consistency will be thick and pasty.
8. Take the milk off the heat and slowly, a little at a time, pour it into the egg-flour mixture, while whisking constantly. When all of the milk has been incorporated, pour the mixture back into the sauce pan and place it over medium heat. Whisk constantly until the mixture thickens. As you begin to feel the mixture thicken, stopping whisking every few seconds to see if it has come to a boil. As soon as it boils, whisk for another 10 seconds and then remove from heat. Do not let the cream boil for too long or it will become grainy.
9. Pour the cream through a sieve into a small heat proof bowl and stir in vanilla. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming and put in the refrigerator to allow the cream to cool, at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.
10. Once the dough has risen and you are ready to fry the doughnuts, line a tray or baking sheet with paper towels. Pour about 3 inches of oil into a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan and heat on medium high until hot enough that a pinch of flour, when dropped in the oil, sizzles on contact. I recommend using a candy thermometer - the oil should be about 350 degrees Fahrenheit while frying. You may want to allow the oil to heat to 360 degrees before adding the initial batch of doughnuts (as well as in between batches) as the oil temperature will drop slightly when adding the dough.
11. Working in batches, place the doughnuts in the hot oil, being careful not to crowd them. Fry on the first side for 2 to 3 minutes until brown. Then gently flip them and fry for another 2 to 3 minutes until browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the doughnuts to the prepared tray and allow to cool for a few minutes before handling.
12. Place the remaining 1 cup (200 grams) sugar in a small bowl. One at a time, toss the warm doughnuts in the sugar to coat evenly. As each doughnut is coated, return to the tray to cool completely for approximately 30 to 40 minutes.
13. Make the vanilla cream filling while the doughnuts are cooling by whipping the heavy cream until it holds stiff peaks and folding it into the pastry cream.
14. When the doughnuts are completely cooled, poke a hole in the side of each. Using a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip, squirt about 1/3 cup filling into each doughnut. Serve immediately.


  1. These look gorgeous, and I am sorely tempted to try them, even tho I'm a yeast-avoider. Great photos, too -- anything special about the camera you use?

  2. Hey Lee! You're too generous- these aren't the best pics. I couldn't get any natural light in my Mom's kitchen b/c Christmas day was so overcast. I used the flash off, auto setting on my Canon T1i. I use that setting often in low light because my lens (Cannon 1.8 50mm) compensates pretty well in low light.

  3. You never cease to impress me with the breadth of your baking skills! Homemade cream-filled doughnuts? AMAZING.

  4. Thanks Michelle! It's not hard to impress with doughnuts, though. Everyone loves doughnuts!

  5. These donuts look incredible, perfect shape,tan and the vanilla cream...yumm I wish I had one of those and a cup of black coffee right now.

  6. @Heguiberto- Thanks for stopping by!

  7. These look divine! So happy to see someone baking recipes from "Flour" -- need to do that myself..amazing book. Your photos are grand!