Well it couldn’t all go smoothly. After two successful rounds I finally hit a roadblock with my attempt at jelly and cream filled donuts w/ chocolate glaze. Can I just say that bostom cream donuts are like…objectively the best kind of donut. Chocolate and vanilla? A SURPRISE IN THE MIDDLE? Yes. Jelly used to be my favorite as a kid, and I still love them a lot, so I was very excited to finish off my month of donut making with these boys. My confidence was pretty high, so I began the exact same way as the yeasted ring donuts. The recipe I used for the first round comes from Rosanna Pansino’s “Baking All Year Round” cookbook.
The specific recipe was her Father’s Day mustache donuts, (they are shaped like mustaches, they don’t contain mustache hair.) It was pretty similar to the ring donut recipe, consisting of dough enriched with milk, eggs, and butter. I also decided to do a slow-proof again even though the recipe didn’t call for it, assuming it would go as well as the last round! (It did not.)
The initial mixing of the dough and first rise went fine. Since my last donuts turned out a little breadier than I wanted I made sure not to overwork the dough this time, even though it was pretty soft. It rose up well in the fridge, so I cut out my little dough circles and set them on baking sheets for the second proof. This is where things went screwy. I let the ring donuts rise for an hour after I cut them and they were totally fine, so I did the same for my filled donuts aaannnnd they were totally overproofed. They were only supposed to puff slightly, but they ended up all bubbled up, and when I transferred them to the oil with a slotted spoon they pretty much totally deflated. So even though my donuts fried up well, they didn’t puff enough in the oil and were way flatter than they should have been. But they still tasted good so I figured I would just go with them.
The component I was most nervous about was definitely the pastry cream. Pastry cream is kind of like vanilla pudding, but made by mixing hot milk and sugar with eggs and cornstarch. It’s pretty delicious, but there’s a high chance of ending up with scrambled egg if you don’t whisk it properly. The last time I made pastry cream was a couple of years ago for a 4th of July pie and it was a DISASTER, not because it turned to scrambled egg but because I was a coward and didn’t let it thicken long enough, so it turned to soup. I mean it was still yummy but definitely not a triumph. So I was extra careful making the pastry cream for my boston cream donuts, and it turned out way better than I expected! I used the vanilla pastry cream recipe from the SprinkleBakes cookbook (also where I got the royal icing recipe from my Halloween cookies).
The secret to pastry cream is just to whisk everything constantly so nothing burns and the eggs combine with the milk. I also made sure to put plastic wrap directly on top of the cream while it cooled, otherwise a skin will form. Making successful pastry cream was a confidence boost, which makes what happened next even better. I picked raspberry jam for my jelly donuts (jam for the jelly donuts? Are they jam donuts?) because raspberry is the best. A friend of mine once went on a rant about how terrible strawberry jelly is, and you know what she was right. Strawberry jelly ain’t shit.
I was planning on taking the donuts in to work again, which meant frying the night before and filling/glazing the donuts the next morning before work. My first mistake was not figuring out how to get the jelly into the donuts the night before. I used my one and only pastry bag (it’s reusable) for the pastry cream, which was pretty easy to pipe into the donuts after poking a hole with a skewer. But THEN. The jelly donuts. Oh my God. Here is an itemized list of my mistakes with the jelly:
- I read somewhere to thin out the jelly with a little water before piping it in the donuts. This is a bad idea, it just means the jelly will run all over the fucking place.
- I tried to use one of my squeezy icing bottles to get the jelly in the donut, but the squeezy icing bottle kept getting blocked by pockets of air (physics???? I literally don’t know.) and the seeds in the jam (and I was NOT going to fucking spend my time straining the seeds out of the jam. This was 7:30 am on a Saturday. No.)
- I found a cake decorator plunger thing from fucking 1983 in the back of our cabinets that would have been PERFECT if it hadn’t been BROKEN. Every time I tried to squeeze out the jelly most of it got all over the counter, my hands, and the floor. It looked like a box of donuts got murdered in my kitchen.
- Finally I decided to just wash out the pastry bag and fill it with jelly, but again the jelly was RUNNY and got everywhere except the inside of the donut.
Eventually I got a measly amount of jelly into (4) donuts. Just to hammer in how much of a fucking mess I made, I had NO jelly left in the jar once I was done. How much got into the donuts? Like, less than two tablespoons. That means the rest of the jelly was on the floor, counter, and my BODY. I took the donuts to work anyway and they were fine. It was fine. Everything was fine. I didn’t take any pictures of these donuts because they were STUPID AND I HATE THEM.
I’m no quitter so by the end of the day I had already determined to AVENGE myself and remake the donuts. I scrapped the Rosanna Pansino recipe, not because it was bad, but because I don’t think the recipe was meant for filled donuts in the first place. So I turned once again to my main man Chris Morocco at Bon Appetit, whose recipe I also used for cake donuts. This time I used his recipe for Doughnuts with Grapefruit Curd because they are specifically made to be filled.
The dough was just as easy as the other ones, although I did have to add a Bit more flour because it was just very sticky. I also omitted the vanilla and orange zest and added 1/4 tsp nutmeg as usual. I also decided to ACTUALLY FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS for once and did a warm proof instead of a cold one in the fridge. This time when I cut the dough into circles I also put each one on it’s own little square of parchment paper (a trick I learned from HRH Claire Saffitz) so that it was easy to transfer them to the oil without deflating them. I carefully monitored them and when they were perfectly puffed up I fried them two at a time and they were PERFECT. They were puffy, light, and I finally got the classic “ring” of lighter dough around the center of the fried donut that signifies perfectly proofed dough. These donuts were the tastiest and had the best texture of all three, IMO. Turns out actually following the fucking directions yields better results. Who could’ve imagined? Not me.
I was fully prepared for filling this time. I found a plunger that ACTUALLY WORKS buried in one of our drawers, and since my donuts were nice and puffy, filling them with both the jelly and the custard was a breeze. I also used a different recipe for the chocolate glaze, opting for this one from 12 tomatoes because it sets harder. (The trick is hot water).
I also just rolled the jelly ones in regular granulated sugar because honestly I’m sick of powdered sugar. I’m sick of it. I think the granulated sugar adds a better texture anyway.
These donuts were DELICIOUS y’all. Even the day after they were light and fluffy, and the raspberry and custard fillings were super tasty. I now feel super confident in my fairly competent donut making skills!
Thus ends Donut Mania. January is over, and so is my long-ass winter break, so my free time is about to decrease significantly. I also am kind of sick of making donuts. Like I still love them but I kind of don’t want to look at them for awhile. Maybe I’ll try puff pastry next, but that’s a whole other beast. Here are my biggest takeaways from my Donut Learning Experience
- Frying is way easier than I thought it would be. The whole key is keeping an eye on the temp of the oil. Don’t be a dumbass and you won’t start a fire.
- Donuts really are best day of, but if you store them in an airtight container they are still pretty good the next day.
- Yeast donuts aren’t really that more difficult than cake donuts, they just take extra time. But most of that is literally just letting the dough sit by itself.
- Don’t overwork the dough, unless you don’t want light donuts.
- Glaze will only set hard if you heat up the milk/water.
- Proofing is really the most important part, and you should go by how the dough looks and feels rather than how much time has passed.
- I thought cold-proof would always be better but, turns out I’m a fool!
- FIGURE OUT HOW YOU’RE GOING TO GET THE JELLY INTO THE GODDAMN DONUTS BEFORE YOU START TRYING TO FILL THEM!
- DON’T THIN OUT THE JELLY WITH WATER IT’S A TRAP!
- Some people spell it doughnut, some people spell it donut, some people like me don’t really care. Is there some inherent difference between “donuts” and “doughnuts” I don’t know about? Whatever. If I was really chaotic I would have spelled it differently each time.
Thanks for following along with my doughnut adventures! My family is sick of me getting fry oil everywhere. Donuts are still better than cupcakes.