Recipe: Meyer lemon pastry cream mini doughnuts

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3D

Makes 24 small doughnuts

The zingy filling makes these little treats special; it can be served on the side as well, for dipping.

It's best to weigh ingredients for this recipe, and you'll need a thermometer to monitor the frying oil.

You'll have pastry cream left over, which can be used as you would a lemon curd. Or skip the pastry cream and use store-bought jam, lemon curd or a good-quality chocolate spread.

Note: The dough needs to rest in the refrigerator overnight. The balls of dough need to rise at room temperature for 1 hour. The pastry cream can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. The doughnuts are best served the same day they are made.

Adapted from a recipe by Israeli pastry chef and cooking instructor Celia Regev.


For the doughnuts:

2 cups (8.8 ounces) flour, plus more as needed

1 tablespoon plus a scant 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast (from 1 1/2 packets)

2 medium eggs, lightly beaten with enough water or milk to total 6 ounces

Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon or 2 Meyer lemons (2 to 3 teaspoons)

2 heaping tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small cubes

Vegetable oil, preferably organic canola oil, for frying

Confectioner's sugar, for dusting

For the filling:

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from regular or Meyer lemons)

Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon or 2 Meyer lemons (2 to 3 teaspoons)

1/2 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise (may substitute 1 teaspoon good-quality vanilla extract, added after the filling is removed from the heat)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

5 large egg yolks

3 tablespoons cornstarch

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into cubes


For the doughnuts: Sift the 8.8 ounces of flour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough-hook attachment. Sprinkle the yeast over the flour and combine on low speed. Add the egg mixture and zest; beat to incorporate, then add the sugar and salt. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

On low speed, add the butter cubes a few at time, incorporating completely after each addition to form a sticky, soft dough. Gather the dough into a ball in the bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Combine the lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla bean half in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring just to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to medium-low. Discard the vanilla bean half. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks in a mixing bowl, and gradually add the cornstarch until well incorporated. Gradually whisk in half the warm juice to temper the egg-yolk mixture, then pour all the tempered mixture back into the saucepan.

Whisk constantly, for about 5 minutes, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of pudding. Remove from the heat. Add a few cubes of the butter at a time, whisking to thoroughly incorporate each addition. Once all the butter has been incorporated, the pastry cream will be smooth and shiny. Yield is about 2 cups.

Place plastic wrap directly on surface of the pastry cream. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the doughnuts, fill a medium saucepan with oil that's about 3 1/2 inches deep. Heat to 335 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with several layers of paper towels. Have a wire cooling rack at hand.

Lightly flour a clean work surface. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, then generously flour the paper. Create about 24 small balls of dough that are about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Lightly sprinkle the tops of the balls with flour, then cover with a clean dish towel. Let them sit at room temperature for 1 hour, to rise until almost doubled in size.

Use a pastry brush to knock off any excess flour from the balls as you work. Use a slotted spoon to add 3 or 4 balls to the hot oil at a time. They should quickly float to the top. Fry for about 2 minutes, until golden brown on the undersides, then turn them over and fry for 2 more minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to the paper towels just long enough to wick away any excess oil, then transfer to the rack to cool. Repeat to fry all the doughnuts.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain piping tip with the chilled lemon pastry cream filling (or fill a resealable plastic food storage bag and cut 1/2 inch off one bottom corner). Pierce the top of each mini doughnut and squeeze in just enough of the pastry cream until a small bit of it appears at the opening.

Dust each filled doughnut with confectioner's sugar. Serve right away.

Per serving (using half the filling): 110 calories, 2 g protein, 13 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 30 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar

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