Oh Boston cream. They are such a good donut. One that I didn’t like until I was older but I have learned to love them. Did that happen because of living in New England? Maybe, I like to think so. I recently felt the need to make some as a special treat for Ben. These are pretty much his favorite donut. He’s told me stories about getting them with his grandfather so they have a special place in his heart. Before he started getting busy in the new year I wanted him to have a nice treat to enjoy the last few days off.
Now a Boston cream is an easy way to make a simple donut a little grander and fancy. Especially when you make your own pastry cream for the filling. This is my recipe that I use and I’m going to talk about my tips and tricks to get a great pastry cream, smooth glaze, and the best little donut that your family will love to enjoy and trust me it’ll taste better than Dunkin’ (this opinion/message has not been approved by any New Englanders).
First off you need to make the pastry cream. You may think donut comes first but you need to cool the pastry cream and have it thicken so that it is easier to pipe and fill the donuts. Pastry cream is one of the basic and master recipes for all bakers and pastry chefs. Pretty much it goes more commonly by the name of pudding, and that’s what it is. An egg yolk and milk mixture thickened with some starch, sweetened with sugar and flavored however you want. For the Boston cream keep it simple with vanilla, but this recipe can easily be changed to make so many flavors! (definitely check out my baking program to learn more about baking and manipulating recipes to fit your need) If you have seen or attempted pastry cream before you may have seen or performed it by the tempering technique. Heat milk, mix eggs, starch, and sugar, slowly add milk to eggs, then cook. This works. This is the old school technique, but I don’t like to take that time and I don’t want to wash that many dishes. Instead, egg yolk, sugar, and starch in a pot, add the milk slowly, cook and then done. You don’t have to temper! Just mix, cook, strain, and cool. It’s a lot easier and simpler to do than many make it seem. The most important thing though is to stir constantly and use a whisk the whole time, this will prevent as much curdling as possible and keep it smooth and creamy. As for the heat, base that on the pot and the size of the batch. Don’t use high heat on a small pot filled with pastry cream. I also like to use a medium to large sized pot so that I have room to whisk quickly and the larger surface area makes it cook faster. If the custard only fills the pot an inch or so, don’t use high heat that goes up the sides of the pot and will burn the edges. Lower the heat, it will take longer but reduce the chance for burning or curdling.
65g Granulated Sugar
5 tsp Corn Starch
2 ea Egg Yolk
40g Unsalted Butter
1½ tsp Vanilla
In a medium sauce pot, mix corn starch into the sugar.
Mix in egg yolks and vanilla.
Add milk slowly at first to reduce amount of lumps, whisking constantly. Once all is added, whisk to smooth.
Place mixture over medium high heat and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk.
As mixture cooks it will thicken, once it is thick pause for short moments and see if there are bubbles coming through indicating the starch is fully activated.
Remove from heat and strain custard into a clean bowl.
Add butter and mix until fully melted.
Cool before using. Place something directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming.
With the pastry cream done and cooling, time to make the donuts! This is my favorite yeasted donut recipe that I love to make. It’s a quick mix, short proof, then a rest before frying. It also works well to make the night before and have prepared in the fridge so that you wake up and fry up for a quick and easy weekend breakfast! Boston cream really need to be made with a yeasted donut dough. They poof and open a lot better to accept and hold a filling compared to a cake donut. I still really love cake donuts, honestly probably like them a bit more than yeasted, but they can only do so much for us in a clean and easy manor. I’m not here to give you a super difficult recipe that you struggle and get upset with. The only thing that’s different than regular donuts with this recipe is the hole in the center! So once you have this recipe you can use it to make pretty much any donut by changing how you cut it, how to cover it, and what flavors you want. I made some for Boston Cream and some for my favorite, chocolate glaze, this time.
150g Milk, whole or whatever you have
1 ea Egg
60g Unsalted Butter, melted
454g All Purpose Flour
60g Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1 ½ tsp Instant Yeast
In the bowl of a stand mixer, measure the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast.
In a measuring cup, whisk the egg with the milk, water, and melted butter.
Add wet ingredients into the dry and mix with a dough hook on low speed for 2 minutes.
Increase to medium speed and mix for 3 minutes.
Place dough into a greased bowl and cover with a damp cloth.
Proof until almost double, about 1 hour.
Roll out dough to ½ inch thick on a floured surface.
Cut out donuts.
Leave cut donuts on parchment squares and cover. Proof for 20-30 min.
Fry in 350F oil until golden on both sides.
While the donuts are going through the first proof, before rolling and cutting, make the glaze and have it ready to go when the donuts are done. This is the same as my chocolate glaze for standard sprinkle donuts, it’s easy and wonderful. Melt everything except the sugar on low. Then add the sugar and mix in the pot. Whisk to smooth and add a little heat if it gets thick. Let it cool while frying donuts then little heat to thin and have ready for dipping once filled! This is a simple glaze that works well for many other pastries and desserts as well. It’s actually a variation from a component of my great grandmother’s éclair cake. Family favorite and just finding new ways to use her recipes.
100g Unsalted Butter
80g Corn Syrup
2 tbsp Cocoa Powder
1 tbsp Water
1 tsp Vanilla
225g Confectioners’ Sugar
Melt butter with corn syrup, water, and salt in a medium sized pot over medium heat.
Wisk in cocoa powder and vanilla over low.
Turn off heat and add the powdered sugar. Whisk to smooth out any lumps, returning to low heat if needed.
Use when preferred consistency.
With the donuts proofing and ready to roll and cut, the pastry cream cooled, and the glaze waiting in the pot to be dipped into, it’s time to make some donuts! When you roll and cut your donuts, try to use as little flour as possible, otherwise it will get into the oil and burn and it’s harder to reuse the oil a couple times. I also like to place each donut on a single piece of parchment so that I can just dip them into the oil without pulling them up, stretching them, or losing some of the air trapped inside giving me the great texture. On that note about frying, watch your oil temp! I will say this over and over and over. I love to fry in an electric skillet because it will maintain temp better but if in a thick pot on the stove, like I tend to do it, watch that temp. Never, and I mean NEVER, put dough into the oil without checking the temp. If it’s not hot enough it sits and gets greasy. As long as the oil is hot and the dough isn’t fully cooked, the gas is leaving the dough and preventing the donut from getting super greasy. Once that temp drops or the donut is starting to overcook the oil can rush in and you end up with it in your mouth and we want some good mouthfeel not slimy greasy donuts.
Let the donuts cool a couple minutes before filling. As for filling, make a hole with a skewer or chopstick. Wiggle it around to open up the inside to really get that donut filled. One of my biggest pet peeves in pastry is weak filling game. No one wants a tasting of filling. They want it oozing out and exploding with flavor when they bite in. Make that room and then go into the hole with a pastry bag and it’s quick, easy, and will get nice and full. You should feel the weight added to it. After filling, quick heat to the glaze to get smooth and dip away. Make sure to stir the glaze before dipping often or else a skin will form and it won’t stick to the donuts as easily. You can add sprinkles right out of the glaze if you want, just make sure not to let it solidify before that happens.
Now it’s time to enjoy those donuts! It’s a few steps with three components coming together but they are simple, easy, and every chef knows how to whip up a pastry cream so practice that one a lot. These are a great treat for the family, especially on weekends. Great way to start the day and make them together to have some fun on colder winter days inside. Have fun with this one!