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Hi Bold Bakers!
My homemade Boston Cream Donuts recipe will rival any drive-thru, deli, or bakery donuts you’ve ever had — and I think you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to make donuts at home!
Every single part of my Boston Cream Donut recipe is homemade, and it all starts with the dough. This is also the step that will take the longest, but that’s only because you have to let it rest and let the instant yeast do its work! This yeasted donut dough fries up and becomes unbelievably soft and fluffy.
Then those fried circles of heaven are stuffed with my Simple Pastry Cream (AKA Crème Pâtissière.) To save time, you can make this vanilla pastry cream up to 3 days before you plan to use it.
And finally, the donuts are dipped in a homemade Chocolate Donut Glaze, which whips up quickly, but you can also make it up to 2 weeks in advance.
These donuts are the perfect weekend project! And don’t let frying frighten you; I’ll walk you through everything. Trust me, it’s worth the effort!
Table Of Contents
- What Are Boston Cream Donuts?
- Tools You Need For This Boston Cream Donuts Recipe
- How To Make Boston Cream Donuts
- Can I Make Boston Cream Donuts In Advance?
- How Do I Store Leftover Donuts?
- What Is The Best Oil For Frying Donuts?
- Tips For Frying Donuts
- Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips For Homemade Boston Cream Donuts Recipe
- Want More Donut Recipes?
Boston cream donuts are round, solid donuts made with yeasted dough, covered in chocolate frosting, and stuffed with pastry cream.
They were originally invented as a nod to Boston Cream Pie, which was developed at Boston’s Parker House Hotel in 1856.
In 2003, the Boston Cream Donut was dubbed the “official donut” of Massachusetts!
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Stand mixer with a dough hook attachment (or a large mixing bowl with a whisk)
- Mixing bowls
- 2 Baking sheets
- Parchment paper
- Wire rack
- Candy thermometer
- Wooden skewer or chopstick
- Pastry bag with a small round tip
- Pastry cream: You will need to make a batch of my Simple Pastry Cream for the donuts’ filling.
- Chocolate donut glaze: Homemade Chocolate Donut Glaze is used to top the finished donuts.
- Lukewarm water: Warm water is used to help activate the yeast in the dough.
- Granulated sugar: White sugar gives your donut dough a bit of sweetness, and it’s also what the yeast eats to produce gas.
- Butter: High-quality butter adds flavor to the donut dough and gives them an airy texture.
- Egg yolks: Large egg yolks build the structure of the donuts. Save your egg whites to make Meringues!
- Instant yeast: I always use instant yeast. If you only have Active Dry Yeast, you will need to use a little more — the ratio is ¾ teaspoon of instant yeast to 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast.
- Vanilla extract: Vanilla extract helps bring the flavors of the dough out. You can make Homemade Vanilla Extract, too!
- Salt: Like vanilla, salt helps bring out the flavors of whatever you are making.
- Bread flour: Bread flour has more protein in it than all-purpose flour, which means there is more gluten. Bread flour will give you a chewier, airy texture.
- Baking powder: Baking powder will help the dough rise.
- Oil: You will need oil for frying. Use a flavorless oil with a high smoke temperature, like peanut oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil.
Here is how you make my Boston Cream Donuts recipe:
- Either in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment or in a large mixing bowl with a whisk, combine the water, sugar, butter, egg yolks, yeast, vanilla, and salt until combined.
- Whisk the flour and baking powder in a medium-sized bowl, then gradually add it to the yeast mixture. Stir until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. (If mixing by hand, use a wooden spoon until the dough becomes too thick, then knead for 10 minutes.)
- Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let it sit in a warm place until it has doubled in size. This should take 60-90 minutes. (Take a picture of it with your phone so that you can compare!)
- Once doubled in size, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll it out. Cut it into as many circles as you can.
- Place the dough circles on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and dusted with a bit of flour. Cover with another baking sheet or a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes until it has doubled in size.
- Fill a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan with oil and heat over medium-high. Allow it to come to 350°F (180°C.)
- Fry the donuts, 3-4 at a time, for 1-2 minutes on each side. Let cool completely.
- Poke a hole in the cooled donuts and fill them with pastry cream.
- Dip donuts in chocolate glaze. Let donuts sit for 15 minutes after glazing and serve.
Boston Cream Donuts are best served the day they are made; however, you can make some components of the donuts ahead of time.
You can make the pastry cream up to 2 days in advance and store it in your refrigerator until ready to use.
You can also make the chocolate glaze up to 2 weeks in advance.
Allow the cream and the glaze to warm up at room temperature until they are easy to use before filling and glazing the donuts.
Donuts are always best the day they are made, but if you’d like to store leftovers of this Boston Cream Donuts recipe, you can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.
For my Boston Cream Donuts recipe and any donut recipe, I recommend using flavorless oil with a high smoke point. Vegetable oil, canola oil, and peanut oil are all neutral tasting and have a high burn point.
Avoid oils with low smoke points and ones that have a lot of flavors, like olive oil. Olive oil will start to smoke before it reaches the temperature needed to fry donuts.
- Use a deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan with high sides. Add only as much oil as you need; don’t fill it all the way to the top.
- Keep a tight, well-fitting lid nearby. Safety first, always! Should the oil catch fire, never use water to attempt to put it out. Smother the flame by putting the lid on your pot and wait until it has extinguished.
- If you’re afraid of burning yourself when you drop the donut in the oil, use a slotted spoon, kitchen spider, or tongs. If you are placing the donuts in with your hands, go slowly and get as near the oil as possible. Then slowly lower the donut from the side closest to you, and finish with the side closest to the wall. If there is any splashing, it will be away from you.
- Never leave your hot oil unattended. Oil gets hot and can overheat very quickly.
- Use a thermometer! Kitchen thermometers are a cheap investment and one you’ll use it all the time. Buy a candy thermometer with a clip on the side.
- Don’t overfill your pot. Adding too many donuts to the oil will lower the oil’s temperature. Your donuts will need longer to cook and will absorb the cooled oil, leaving you with greasy, dense donuts.
Can you bake Boston Cream Donuts instead of frying them?
You can bake my Boston Cream Donuts recipe instead of frying them, but keep in mind the texture will not be the same.
Bake in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 10-12 minutes.
What is the difference between Boston Cream Donuts and Bavarian Cream?
As far as I know, the main difference between Boston Cream and Bavarian is simply the topping. They’re both made of yeasted dough and filled with pastry cream, but Boston Cream is always topped with chocolate. Bavarian cream donuts are typically coated in sugar.
Can I proof donut dough overnight?
Yes, you can proof this donut dough overnight in the refrigerator, which will slow the yeast’s progress. After cutting and shaping the dough, place the donuts in the refrigerator and wait 8-10 hours. Then, in the morning, allow the donuts to come to room temperature and finish their second proof. After they doubled in size, continue on through the recipe.
Why are my donuts dense?
Your donuts may be dense and greasy because your oil wasn’t hot enough. Pay attention to your thermometer, and don’t overcrowd the oil with donut dough.
- You can use all-purpose flour in place of bread flour. They will be slightly less chewy but still delicious!
- Oil for frying gets HOT! Never walk away from a pot of heating oil, and if you are a child, please get an adult to help to fry. See my notes about frying above.
- When frying, use a thermometer and keep adjusting the temperature to keep it around 350°C (180°F) to properly (and safely) cook the donuts.
- You can make these jelly donuts by replacing the pastry cream with your favorite jam. Coat the filled donuts with powdered sugar instead of glaze.
- Check out my 5 Donut Glaze Recipes if you want to mix up the topping flavor!
Boston Cream Donuts Recipe
- 1 cup (8 fl oz/240 ml) lukewarm water
- ½ cup (4 oz/115 g) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup(2 oz/57 g) butter , softened
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
- 3 ½ cups (17½ oz/497 g) bread flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- Oil, for frying
- One recipe Pastry Cream
- One recipe Chocolate Donut Glaze
To Make the Donut Dough
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment (or in a large mixing bowl with a whisk), combine the water, sugar, butter, egg yolks, yeast, vanilla, and salt on medium-low speed until combined.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder, then gradually add to the yeast mixture until the dough is combined and pulling away from the sides of the bowl but still quite soft and sticky. Add a bit more flour, one tablespoon at a time, if necessary. (If mixing by hand, use a wooden spoon until the dough becomes too thick, then switch to your hands. Knead for 10 minutes.)
- Continue to knead on medium-low speed for 5 minutes, then transfer the dough to a large, oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest in a warm place until doubled in size, 60-90 minutes.
Roll and Cut the Dough
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, dust with a little flour, and set aside.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and using a rolling pin gently roll out to a 10 x 12-inch (25 ½ x 30 ½ cm) rectangle. Using a 3-inch (7½ cm) round biscuit cutter or cookie cutter, cut as many circles as you can.
- Place the donuts on the prepared baking sheets and cover with another baking sheet to keep them from drying out. (You can also use plastic wrap or a kitchen towel but this dough is quite soft and may get stuck to whatever is touching it.)
- Let rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes, until doubled in size.
Frying the Donuts
- Line a baking sheet with a wire rack and place near the stove. Fill a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan with 2 inches (5 cm) of oil, clip in a candy thermometer, and turn to medium heat until the temperature reaches 350°F (180°C).
- Fry the donuts, 3 -4 at a time, for about 1-2 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Let drain on the wire rack until completely cool.
- Fill the donuts: Fill a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip with the pastry cream.
- Use a wooden skewer or chopstick to poke a hole into the side of a donut and create a small pocket.
- Squeeze a few tablespoons of pastry cream into the donut and repeat with the remaining donuts.
Glazing the Donuts
- Place the chocolate glaze in a shallow bowl and dip the top half of the filled donuts in the glaze. Let set for about 15 minutes before serving.
- These donuts are best just after they are made but you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.