A Boston cream doughnut has all the elements of its namesake cake—and then some. Just like its cake counterpart, it has pastry cream and a chocolate glaze, only the cream is piped inside a yeasted doughnut and the glaze is poured over the top. Bottom line? The whole shebang is just plain amazing.
The doughnuts are fairly easy to assemble, though they do take a while. But don't be deterred! Most of the time is hands off. The doughnut dough comes together easily in a stand mixer and needs about an hour or so to rest before you shape the dough into rounds. While they rest, you can make the pastry cream on the stovetop in about 10 minutes. Let that cool while you continue with the doughnuts. The cut round will need to rest a bit—about a half an hour depending on the temp of your kitchen—before they are fried. After frying, the doughnuts cool while you make the easy-peasy glaze. Then you assemble and voila! Epic homemade doughnuts are all yours for the taking (and eating).
- For the Doughnuts:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Optional: 1/4 cup potato starch
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup buttermilk, plus more as needed, room temperature
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- For Frying:
- 6 cups of vegetable oil
- For the Pastry Cream:
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- For the Chocolate Glaze:
- 1 2/3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted if lumpy
- 1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted if lumpy
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.
Make the Doughnuts
Gather the ingredients.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and starch, if using, and mix on medium-low speed until incorporated.
Add the butter, buttermilk, and egg, and continue to beat until a shaggy dough forms.
Remove the paddle attachment, replace with the dough hook and on medium-high speed, continue to beat the dough until a smooth mass forms that comes off the sides of the bowl and sticks only a bit to the bottom, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Turn the dough out into a medium bowl that has been greased with non-stick spray or softened butter.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside to rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until it has practically doubled in size.
Once the dough has doubled, turn the dough out on to a work surface.
Using your hands, roughly shape the dough into a rectangle.
Roll out the rectangle until it is about 1 1/2-inch thick.
Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Using a 3-inch cookie cutter, cut out the doughnuts, transferring them to your prepared sheets as you work. You may re-roll the scraps and make more doughnuts or doughnut holes.
Loosely cover the pans with plastic wrap and set aside for about 30 to 45 minutes or until the doughnuts rise to about 1 1/2 times their size.
Make the Pastry Cream
In a medium-sized pot, combine the milk and half of the sugar. Place the pan on the stovetop and over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, whisking periodically.
Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl combine the egg yolks, remaining sugar, salt, and cornstarch and whisk until thickened and smooth.
When the milk boils, temper the egg mixture in the bowl by adding a little of the boiling milk to it and whisking to combine. Continue doing so until the egg mixture is warmed and then pour it into the pot on the stove, whisking as you do so.
Bring the mixture to a boil slowly, whisking constantly, over medium heat. Once thickened, whisk briefly, about 30 seconds, and remove from the heat.
Add the butter and vanilla and stir until well combined.
Transfer the pastry cream into a medium bowl and cover the top with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm.
Fry the Doughnuts
Place a large pot filled with at least 2 inches of oil and fitted with a candy thermometer, on the stovetop over medium-high heat and heat until the thermometer registers 350 F.
Once the oil is at temperature, carefully transfer a doughnut to the oil and fry for about 1 1/2 minutes per side, using wooden chopsticks or any two thin utensils, to gently flip the doughnuts over after one side has browned.
When both sides are nicely browned, using a slotted spoon, carefully remove it and place it on a cooling rack lined with newspaper.
Continue to fry the doughnuts in this manner, frying as few or as many as you are comfortable. Let them come to room temperature before filling.
Make the Glaze and Assemble the Doughnuts
Combine all of the glaze ingredients in a small shallow bowl and whisk until smooth.
Once the doughnuts are at room temperature, make a hole on the side of each doughnut with a chopstick or similarly sized pointy utensil.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch tip with pastry cream or use a zippered plastic bag and cut a small hole from the corner.
Place the tip of the pastry bag into the hole and lightly squeeze the bag until you feel the doughnut expand with cream. Continue with the remaining doughnuts.
Once all the doughnuts are filled, dip each one into the glaze, letting any excess drip off.
Let the glaze harden and enjoy.
What's the Difference Between a Boston Cream and Bavarian Doughnuts?
A Bavarian cream doughnut is similar to a Boston cream, but often the pastry cream filling is cut with whipped cream and the doughnut itself is covered in granulated or confectioners' sugar.
How to Store
- Boston cream doughnuts need to be stored in the refrigerator, as they are filled with cream, but you can bring them to room temp before serving.
- Potato starch makes for a lighter and fluffier doughnut, but you can omit it.
- For overnight doughnuts, after cutting out the rounds, place them in the refrigerator overnight and bring to room temp before frying in the morning.
- Roll out the dough scraps and make doughnut holes.
- If your dough is not sticking at all to the sides or bottom of the bowl, add more buttermilk, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough is wet enough to stick a bit.
- If you fry too many doughnuts at the same time, the oil temp will drop, so be sure not to crowd your pot.
- Don't overcook the pastry cream or the eggs will curdle. Also make sure to whisk fairly constantly.
- Buttermilk makes for a lighter and fluffier doughnut, but you can use milk.
- Fill the doughnuts with jelly instead of pastry cream.
- For chocolate pastry cream add 1 cup melted and slightly cooled chocolate when you add the butter.