Vanilla Custard Doughnuts - The Sweet Rebellion
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Vanilla Custard Doughnuts

In celebration of National Doughnut Day, I wanted to make some filled doughnuts as it’s something I haven’t done before. (Side note: technically this is an American holiday, but I tend to get on board with foodie days because why not!)
To help me decide on a filling, I asked my Instagram followers to vote between 4 options. The options were Biscoff, Nutella, Caramel/Peppermint Crisp or Vanilla custard. It was a very close race, but these classic vanilla custard doughnuts came out tops. I was secretly quite pleased as these were the ones I was hoping to make!
I’ve often thought that vanilla is such an underrated flavour, and after witnessing how vanilla pods are grown and harvested on a recent trip to Reunion, I have even more appreciation for it! Crème pâtissière is also known as “pastry cream” and is has a lovely thick, pipeable texture. It’s worth investing in some vanilla pods for recipes like this where the flavour really has a chance to shine through, or at least use a good quality vanilla extract.
The doughnuts are made with a brioche dough (an enriched bread dough containing milk, eggs and butter), which results in a very tender and soft crumb. The combination of this with the creamy filling and crunchy sugar coating is just too yummy for words.

NOTE: The dough can be proved overnight in the fridge, then rolled and cut as per the recipe. In fact some bakers insist this results in a superior flavour doughnut as the yeast get to work slower which allows for the flavours to develop.


(Makes 12)

For the doughnuts:
200ml milk
50g sugar (¼ cup)
10g instant yeast
3 large eggs
5ml vanilla essence (1 tsp)
500g bread flour
2,5ml salt (½ tsp)
100g salted butter, softened and cut into cubes
About 3 litres of vegetable oil for frying
2 cups of castor sugar for coating

For the vanilla custard filling filling:
750ml full cream milk (3 cups)
½ vanilla pod or 10ml vanilla extract (2 tsp)
6 large egg yolks
160g castor sugar (½ cup)
40g cornflour (¼ cup)
40g cake flour (100ml)
15ml salted butter (1 tbsp)


  • To make the vanilla custard, follow the directions for Crème Pâtissière, stirring the butter into the warm custard once it has been removed from the heat. After the custard is well chilled, give it a good whisk to remove any lumps, then place into a large piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. Refrigerate until needed. The filling can be made up to 3 days in advance.
  • To make the doughnuts, warm the milk to lukewarm (not hot or it will kill the yeast), then stir in the sugar and yeast. Set aside for a few minutes.
  • Place the eggs, vanilla essence and milk mixture into a large bowl. Mix well. Stir together the flour and salt, then add this to the liquid mixture one cup at a time. If you are using a stand mixer, use a dough hook to “knead” the dough for 3-4 minutes. Gradually add the cubes of butter and mix until for a further minute. Alternatively knead by hand for 8-10 minutes on a floured surface. The dough will be quite sticky but try not to add too much flour.
  • Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with clingwrap. Leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours depending on the weather.
  • Place the dough onto a floured surface. Roll out to 1,5cm thick. Use an 8cm diameter round cutter to cut rounds of dough. Place the doughnuts onto a lined baking tray and cover lightly with clingwrap. Leave to rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size, about 30-60 minutes.
  • Fill up a large saucepan about halfway with oil. Heat the oil to 180°C* Gently place 2 – 3 doughnuts into the oil (no more or the oil will cool down too much) using a slotted spoon or spider skimmer. The doughnuts should float to the top immediately. As soon as they are golden brown on one side (about 90 seconds), turn them over and fry until golden on the other side.
  • Remove from the oil and set aside to drain on paper towels for a few minutes, then roll in the castor sugar while still warm. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts. Check the temperature of the oil regularly and try to keep it as close to 180°C as possible so that the doughnuts cook evenly.
  • Leave the sugar-coated doughnuts to cool to room temperature, covered with a tea towel. Fill the doughnuts as close to serving as possible. Poke a hole into the side of each doughnut with a chopstick or back of a teaspoon, then insert the piping nozzle and squeeze slowly to fill the centre with the vanilla custard.
  • Best enjoyed the same day.

*If you don’t have a thermometer you can test this by dropping a 2,5cm cube of bread into the oil. If it takes 60 seconds to brown, then the oil is at the right temperature.

  • Luthfia
    Posted at 21:34h, 07 September Reply

    Hi, can i make these donuts smaller in size?

    • Astrid
      Posted at 11:31h, 10 September Reply

      Hi Luthfia! Yes absolutely!They will cook a little bit quicker but otherwise the recipe would be the same.

  • Juwairiyah Adam
    Posted at 08:30h, 02 December Reply

    Hi, how can I make different fillings like the biscoff filling or the peppermint?

    • Astrid
      Posted at 14:03h, 02 February Reply

      Hi there. You could try mixing in about half a cup of Biscoff into the creme patisserie. For a peppermint one you could add a few drops of peppermint flavour instead of the vanilla.

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