Alright, friends. Let's talk donuts! We all love them, we all want them, so let's just quit with the excuses and make these bad boys.
First, you want to start this process one day before you plan to actually eat them. The dough needs to rest in the fridge for about 24 hours, so pencil that shit into your calendar right now.
If you don't have a stand mixer, that's totally OK, just be prepared to put those guns to work. The kneading process may take a bit longer to come together, but it will work. Also, even less than perfect dough, when fried (and filled and coated in sugar), is still delicious...so you always have that going for you.
If this is your first time making pastry cream, welcome to the easiest and best thing ever. This recipe will likely make more than what is needed to fill the donuts, so here are a few things you can do with any leftovers: mix some melted chocolate into it, fold whipped cream into it and top with fresh berries, use it in any version of a cream pie (banana, coconut, etc), make cream puffs/eclairs and fill them with the cream. OR, just leave it in the fridge and get in there with ya favorite spoon, girl.
Finally, let me leave you with the best secret of all. YOU CAN FREEZE THE UNCOOKED DOUGH. After you've made and rested the cutouts, freeze them on a parchment or silicon lined cookie sheet then transfer them to a zip lock bag. When you want to fry them, remove from the freezer onto a plate/cookie sheet lined with a tea towel, and also cover them with a tea towel until they come to room temperature.
Fry them right up and BOOM. Surprise donuts that you probably forgot about for a few months and that's OK because it's the best type of surprise.
Sugar Donuts with Pastry Cream
- Stand mixer
- Dutch oven or large cast iron skillet
- Piping bag and tip
- Kitchen thermometer
- ¾ cup milk
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 ½ teaspoon instant yeast
- 4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
- ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 cup sugar for coating
- 48 oz vegetable or canola oil for frying
Pastry Cream Filling
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 T cornstarch
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 4 T unsalted butter cut into 4 T pieces
- Warm the milk over medium low heat until it reaches about 90 degrees F. Add in sugar and mix until dissolved. Transfer the milk to the bowl of your stand mixer then add the yeast. Next, add the flour and salt. Start mixing with the paddle attachment, adding one egg at a time, and finally, the vanilla paste or extract.
- Switch to the dough hook attachment and turn on medium low for about one minute. With the mixer still running, add the room temperature butter one tablespoon at a time. After about 5 minutes on the dough hook, check the mixture. If it is sticky, add a bit more flour (about ⅛ - ¼ cup). Continue mixing for another 3 - 4 minutes until the mixture is smooth.
- Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to sit in the fridge overnight (or at least 10 - 12 hours).
- You want to make the pastry cream the same day you make the donut dough so it has time to set up in the fridge.
- In a bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and sugar, then add the eggs and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
- Set aside another bowl with a fine mesh strainer - you will need this immediately after your pastry cream comes off the heat.
- Pour milk into a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and add half to the milk. If you're using vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract, DO NOT add it at this point (you will add it when you add the butter at the end). Add the salt and place the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring it to just under a boil and stir it every once in a while so you don’t burn the milk solids on the bottom of the pan.
- Once the milk is simmering, add ⅓ of the milk to the egg/sugar/starch mixture and whisk constantly. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the milk and return to medium high heat. Whisky vigorously and constantly, the mixture will begin to thicken and you will see the small milk bubbles start to disappear. Once this has happened, the mixture will quickly thicken and boil. As soon as it gets to a boil, immediately remove it from the heat and pass it through the sieve (with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula) into the bowl.
- Allow the pastry cream to cool to 140 degrees F, then whisk in one tablespoon of butter at a time. Don’t add a new piece until the other has been fully incorporated. Once all butter has been added, add the vanilla bean paste/extract and mix to combine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and press the wrap directly on the cream so it doesn’t form a skin. Put the cream in the fridge to chill and rest with your dough overnight.
Preparing the dough
- Take the dough out of the fridge and lightly flour your countertop. Using a rolling pin (or wine bottle 😉 ) roll out dough until it’s about ½ inch thick. Using a round 3 - 4 inch cookie cutter (or drinking glass), cut out circles of dough. Transfer cutouts to a tray or counter lined with parchment paper (or baking mat) and cover with a clean tea towel or plastic wrap.
- Work the dough back together, roll out to a ½ inch, cut out remaining circles and transfer to rest for one hour.
To fry and fill
- Add the oil to a dutch oven or large cast iron skillet and turn on medium/medium low until the oil reaches 350 degrees F. Add the donuts about 3 at a time and fry for about one minute on each side. Remove the donuts to a cookie rack or a plate or pan lined with paper towels to just rid them of excess grease, then immediately coat in the sugar.
- Once the donuts are sugar coated, allow them to cool completely. With light fingers, use a straw/chopstick/clean pen (whatever thin utensil you have!) and poke a hole in one side of each donut. I like to give my chopstick a little circular swirl inside the donut for maximum filling space. You will feel a bit of give when you do this since you're compacting the dough.
- Transfer your chilled pastry cream to a piping bag with a piping tip (I use a pen-sized tip), insert into the hole of the donut, and fill. You will feel the donut become significantly heavier.
- Make sure to eat these the same day - within hours, if you can!