I love homemade donuts, but I don’t love deep frying, which is why these baked donuts are high on my list of worth-the-effort indulgences. The vanilla pastry cream filling, which is lightened with a little whipped cream, is several cuts above what you’d find in the offerings at your local donut shop. Since it needs to chill for at least 4 hours, I like to make it the day before I make and serve the donuts. The donut dough, which is made in an electric mixer with the dough hook, doesn’t require manual kneading, and comes together fairly quickly. Note that the donuts should be filled right before serving, and are best eaten the same day, but I doubt that will be much of a problem.
Makes about 14 donuts
Vanilla Pastry Cream Filling
- 2 large (100 grams) eggs
- 2 large (37 grams) egg yolks
- ¼ cup (30 grams) cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 cups (483 grams) whole milk
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- 1/3 cup (77 grams) heavy cream
- 2 2/3 cups (347 grams) all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 ¼ teaspoons (7 grams/1 packet) dry instant yeast
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2/3 cup (161 grams) whole milk, warm (110˚F)
- 3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 large (50 grams) egg, lightly beaten
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- 1/3 cup (77 grams) heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
Make the Vanilla Pastry Cream Filling
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, cornstarch and salt until smooth.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and sugar over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the milk is heated through and begins to bubble around the edges. Remove the milk from the heat and slowly drizzle it into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Scrape the egg mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Boil, whisking vigorously, for 10 more seconds, until the pastry cream is thick and glossy, then immediately remove from heat.
- Pour the pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve set over a small bowl. Whisk in the butter, one tablespoon at a time, whisking until completely melted and incorporated. Whisk in the vanilla. Cover the cream with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap against its surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours and up to 3 days. (You will add the cream later.)
Make the donut dough
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, gently whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, yeast and cardamom. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the warm milk, melted butter, egg and vanilla.
- Attach the dough hook to the mixer and begin mixing the dry ingredients at low speed. Gradually add the warm milk mixture, mixing at low speed and stopping to scrape down the sides occasionally to make sure the dry ingredients are being incorporated, until roughly blended, about 3 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and mix for another 3 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until a smooth dough forms that no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl, about 4 more minutes. Gather the dough into a smooth bowl and place it, seam-side-down, in a buttered bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in volume, 60 to 90 minutes (time is dependent on room temperature).
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and lightly dust it with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll it out to a thickness of just under ½ inch. Using a 2 ¾-inch round cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible from the dough. Place the rounds on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them evenly apart. Gather up the scraps, reroll them, let the dough rest for 10 minutes, and then cut out more rounds. Cover the donuts with a tea towel and let rise at room temperature until they are puffy, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375˚F.
- Bake the donuts until they are golden brown, about 12 minutes. While the donuts are baking, melt the butter for the coating and put the sugar in a shallow dish or on a plate. When the donuts are done, immediately brush each one all over with melted butter, then roll in sugar to coat. Place the coated donuts on a wire rack to cool completely.
Finish the pastry cream and fill the donuts
- Remove the pastry cream from the refrigerator and whisk it vigorously until smooth.
- Using a hand-held whisk or hand-held electric mixer, beat the heavy cream to medium peaks. Gently fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream. Transfer the cream to a pastry bag fitted with a small, plain tip (such as Ateco # 803). Using a paring knife, pierce the side of each donut to the center. Push the pastry tip into the slit and fill with pastry cream. Serve the donuts right away.