This past March I spent three weeks visiting family in Melbourne, Australia. I actually lived there and went to primary school there for a year as a girl!
My mom grew up in Australia, so it was amazing to see her country and culture as an adult. I certainly took home some inspiration as far as food and recipes go! Melbourne is completely FILLED with amazing restaurants and cafes.
One of my favorite food publications, Donna Hay, is based out of Australia so I snatched up as many magazines as I could. One issue even came with a kitchen towel! I spotted a recipe for Creme Brulee Doughnuts in issue #86 and just knew I had to make them with my own spin. Thanks, OZ, for the sweet inspiration!
Baked Creme Brulee Doughnuts Recipe Tips
Whenever possible, I like to include extra tips, tricks, and advice to help you along in the kitchen. While this recipe is totally doable, it is a little more involved. Hopefully I’ve included everything you need and answer any potential questions, but feel free to leave a comment below if some else comes up!
Even though these are baked doughnuts, there’s no batter involved. Instead, to make these as close to traditional fried doughnuts in taste, texture, and appearance as possible, we’re using a yeast-raised dough. It’s a super rich dough with egg yolks, sugar, butter, AND cream in order to mimic the rich, soft, and fluffy goodness of fried doughnuts. Enriched doughs like this one may take longer to knead and rise, FYI.
Also, since these doughnuts don’t have holes, you don’t need to worry about using a doughnut cutter or making one from two cookie cutters. One round cookie cutter does the trick here!
These doughnuts have a traditional pasty cream filling. It’s made by heating up whole milk (don’t skimp on the fat here – these are doughnuts after all!) then slowly adding some of the hot milk to an egg yolk mixture. We add the milk in gradually to slowly bring the temperature of the eggs up so they don’t scramble before adding them to the hot pot. As long as you follow the instructions you should get a beautifully rich, thick, and smooth pastry cream!
I love to use vanilla bean paste in pastry creams because it lends those little flecks of vanilla to the filling and looks as good as it tastes. Be sure to fill the doughnuts before you make the bruleed topping. I like to use a piping bag fitted with a filling tip to fill the doughnuts.
The Bruleed Topping
You will need a kitchen torch to achieve the bruleed sugar topping on these doughnuts. If you don’t have one, then this recipe is the perfect excuse to treat yo’ self! They’re just so much fun. To get that beautifully amber topping we just mix sugar and a little water into a paste and top the baked and filled doughnuts with it. Let it sit for 5 minutes before torching.
Serving & Storing
The finished doughnuts are best served the day they’re made. You could, of course, make the pastry cream filling a couple days ahead of time and store in the fridge. And you can also make the doughnuts a day ahead of time, though I think they’re best fresh.
Baked Creme Brulee Doughnuts
Baked Creme Brulee Doughnuts feature a baked yeast-risen doughnut base filled with vanilla bean pastry cream and finished off with a shatteringly crunchy bruleed sugar coating. To die for!
For the doughnuts:
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 (319 grams) cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 4 tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
For the filling:
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 large egg yolks
- Pinch of salt
- 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
Make the doughnuts:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the water, zest, vanilla, yeast, eggs, and sugar. Gradually add in the flour then salt, mixing until absorbed. Add the butter and cream and beat on medium speed for 6 to 8 minutes, or until a smooth sticky dough forms. Remove the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out to about 1/2-inch thickness. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out 6 rounds from the dough. Place on a large parchment-lined baking sheet spacing far apart. Cover and let rise until puffy, about 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the doughnuts for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown and puffed. Let cool completely.
Make the filling:
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together the milk and half the sugar. Place over medium heat to come to a boil.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the yolks, salt, and the remaining sugar. Stir in the flour.
- When the milk boils, whisk a third of the boiled milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the egg mixture back into the pot. Continue whisking until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Pour the cream into a heat-proof glass or stainless-steel bowl or pan. Press plastic wrap directly against the surface of the cream. Refrigerate until completely chilled.
- Remove the pastry cream to a piping bag fitted with a long filling tip. Insert the tip into the side of a doughnut and squeeze the filling inside to fill. Repeat for the remaining doughnuts.
Make the crème brulee topping:
- Place the doughnuts on a wire rack over a baking tray. In a glass measuring cup, combine the sugar and water and stir until combined. Spoon the sugar mixture over each doughnut and allow to set for 5 minutes. Using a kitchen blowtorch, caramelize the sugar until amber. Serve.