You guys! It’s finally here!
National Donut Day! Or Doughnut Day! Depending on how you roll. I’m a “donut” girl, mainly because it’s easier to write out and also how I visualize the word in my head at all times. Hah. #lazy
Anywho! If you follow along on Instagram, then you saw my donut saga on my stories a couple weeks ago. This recipe is something SPECIAL. Like, if there were ever a donut-from-scratch recipe that you needed to try, it would be this one. I tested it twice, with two different fillings, and this version won out by a landslide.
First things first, this is a high maintenance situation. I’m not sugar coating it at all (if you don’t count the powdered sugar coating on the actual donuts, that is). But homemade donuts usually are! Especially when they are of the yeasted variety (which these are), and even more so if you are frying them instead of baking them (which is what I did here), and even MORE SO if you choose to fill them (yup, did that too).
But please believe me when I say this: IT IS SO WORTH IT. Worth the time. Worth the extra effort. And definitely worth every single calorie. I prooooomise.
You guys know by now that I rarely deep fry at home. I hate it. It’s messy. It’s smelly. It’s dangerous. And it’s a lot of work. But there ARE a few recipes that I will deep fry for, and yeasted donuts like these have made the list. I based my dough off my friend Cindy’s recipe (check her out by the way – beautiful photos and amazing baked goods!) because I know she would only share a perfect method. And I was right! Her dough works beautifully here. I only made a few very minor tweaks, and they were really only to drive home the lemon and thyme flavors. The actual process is all Cindy’s!
The donuts come out suuuuuuper fluffy and light, with the slightest crispiness on the outside. They are glorious.
You can fill these up any which way you want. I echoed the lemon-thyme theme and added those flavors to the filling as well. Confession time: I usually do not like filled donuts of any kind. Nope. No thank you. I am a simple glazed or cake donut girl all the way. You can keep your Boston cream and jelly filled! So these donuts are a real departure for me. They’re not something I would normally gravitate toward AT ALL.
That said, this filling is INSANE. I basically made a lemon curd cream cheese buttercream and piped it into the fluffy-as-f*ck donuts. It’s perfectly tangy and creamy and sweet and lovely. I couldn’t stop eating it off the spoon (and I may have piped a few blobs directly into my mouth once all the donuts had been filled. Waste not, want not??).
Plus, it’s nice to depart from the normal sometimes. I love a challenge, especially in the kitchen, and that’s exactly what these were. I started out not even sure I would like the end product, and I persevered anyway! For you guys! OK, and for me. Because these were damn good.
The first time I made the donuts, I filled them with straight lemon curd. And while that was HEAVENLY in the flavor department, I didn’t cook my lemon curd properly and it was way too runny to be inside a donut. It ran out as soon as the donuts were placed on their sides. Delicious and messy, but not good enough for you all. I wanted to share something PERFECT.
And guys, I am happy to say, I think I did it.
Happy National Donut Day! And happy freaking weekend, friends!
For the Dough:
- ⅓ cup water
- 2 tablespoons flour
- ½ cup whole milk
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons dry active yeast
- 2 large eggs
- ½ stick unsalted butter, melted
- 2½ cups flour
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, stems removed and finely chopped
- Canola oil, for frying
- Powdered sugar, for dusting
For the Filling:
- ⅓ cup lemon curd (homemade or store bought)
- ½ stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 4 cups powdered sugar
For the Dough:
- In a small saucepan, whisk together the water and 2 tablespoons of flour over medium heat. Whisk constantly until the mixture thickens into a paste. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a measuring cup, heat the milk in the microwave for 30 seconds or until warm but not hot. Whisk in the sugar and yeast and set aside until the mixture is foamy on top, about 5 minutes.
- Whisk the eggs and melted butter into the yeast mixture.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, salt, lemon zest, and thyme.
- With the machine running (use your dough hook attachment), slowly pour in the yeast mixture and then the flour paste from the saucepan.
- The dough should come together quickly and will be quite sticky. Resist the urge to add more flour at this point – it can yield a denser dough. Run the machine for about 5 minutes.
- Gently transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for another 5 minutes. You want the dough to be soft and smooth and no longer sticky at this point. Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl.
- Cover and allow the dough to rest until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, gently pat it out with your hands on a lightly floured surface until it is about ½ inch thick. Using a 3-inch round biscuit cutter, cut out the donut rounds and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Continue until all the dough has been formed, re-using and re-working any dough scraps. Once all the donuts have been cut out, cover the baking tray with a kitchen towel and set aside for 30 minutes to an hour, or until the donuts have doubled in size.
For the Filling:
- While the donuts are rising, make the filling by combining the lemon curd, butter, and cream cheese in the bowl of your stand mixer (you can also use a hand mixer). Cream them together until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add in the zest and juice of the lemon and mix again.
- Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, and beat until the mixture is thickened and fluffy. You want it to reach a “stiff peak” stage, which just means that it can hold it shape when the beater is raised up.
- Fit a piping bag with a star tip and fill the bag with the filling. Set aside until the donuts are fried.
To Fry and Fill the Donuts:
- Heat 2 inches of canola oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Heat the oil to 350°F.
- Gently and carefully add the donuts, 2-3 at a time (depending on the size of your pot), to the hot oil. Cook for 1 minute per side, or until they are deeply golden brown and crisp on the outside.
- Place the fried donuts on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Allow them to mostly cool before filling them.
- To fill the donuts, cut a small slit in the side of each donut with a small paring knife. Insert the piping bag tip into the hole and gently squeeze the bag to fill the donuts.
- Dust the filled donuts with powdered sugar once they have all been filled.
- These are best if served immediately, but I found that they held up well if cooled completely to room temperature and then stored in an airtight container on the counter for a day or two.
- Before serving, I reheated them in a 200F oven for about 10 minutes. Some of the filling might ooze out when you do this, but warming them up a bit really helps revive them to their original fried state.
Dough recipe and method adapted from here.