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5 from 1 vote

Sugar Donuts with Pastry Cream

Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time30 mins
Rest time1 d
Total Time1 d 1 hr 30 mins
Servings: 12
Author: Callan Wenner | The Cozy Plum


  • 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).

Pastry Cream

  • 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!


When adding the softened butter to your dough mixture, it will look very weird and wet at this point - this is normal - it will all come together!
Try to get as many dough circles per roll out as possible. Re-working the dough makes it tough. Make donut holes out of the remaining scraps.
If you want a richer pastry cream, you can use egg yolks instead of the full egg. I like to do 1 egg and 1 egg yolk, but you can adjust based on preference!
If you want a thicker pastry cream, add 4 T cornstarch instead of 3 T.
Do not let the pastry cream boil for more than about 15 seconds or else the mixture will curdle. If it does curdle, you can use an immersion blender after passing it through the sieve to try to bring it back together. This doesn't always work, though.
If you don't have a piping bag or tip, just use a zip lock bag. You can also put a small mouthed funnel into the hole of the donut and squeeze the pastry cream though that way.