Meyer Lemon Pastry Cream Mini Doughnuts

Meyer Lemon Pastry Cream Mini Doughnuts
Meyer Lemon Pastry Cream Mini Doughnuts ©ShulieMadnick

This 'Meyer Lemon Pastry Cream Mini Doughnuts' recipe is one out of three recipes published along my 'Doughnuts Best Filled with Chanukah Tradition' article in The Washington Post Food section, on December 4, 2012. To curate my articles and recipes in one space, I am republishing the 'Meyer Lemon Pastry Cream Mini Doughnuts' recipe here, just before the first eve of Chanukah, falling on December 10 this year. Stay tuned for the 'Brandy Doughnuts With Dark Chocolate Marzipan and Strawberry' and 'Baked Buttermilk Nutella Ganache Doughnuts.'

And don't forget to subscribe to "Beyond the Bagel," my new podcast on Apple Podcasts. A new and exciting Chanukah tips and tricks episode is coming out soon. I am sure you will love my next guest as much as I do. You can also subscribe via email (on the right-hand column) to be the first to receive updates on new posts and recipes, exciting new talks and cooking classes that are in the works, and an upcoming newsletter. 

Meyer Lemon Pastry Cream Mini Doughnuts

Unlike the shape (oblate spheroid/squished sphere) of the traditional Israeli jelly doughnuts, these doughnuts are perfectly round. I am not sure what is in the chemistry of the recipe that makes them plop and peep through the hot oil as perfect spheres, but they are cute as heck!

They have a nice body and structure, and the tangy filling makes them unique. The Meyer lemon pastry cream can be served on the side. Weigh the ingredients for this recipe, and use a food thermometer to monitor the frying oil. If you do not have a food thermometer, test the oil by carefully dropping a small piece of dough into the oil. If the dough instantaneously bubbles up to the top, the oil is ready. You might need to adjust the heat so that the doughnut doesn't get golden on the outside fast and doesn't cook inside. 

You'll have pastry cream leftover, 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. At some shops in Israel, doughnut filling comes in a syringe to be injected by the customer. I would skip buying the doughnuts with the plastic syringes or using the syringes at home to be good for our environment. 

Make-Ahead: 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 2-3 days. The doughnuts are best served the same day they are fried.

Meyer Lemon Pastry Cream Mini Doughnuts

about 24 small doughnuts


Doughnuts Ingredients:

8.8 ounces (2 cups) 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
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Filling Ingredients:

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 and 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 of 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. The yield is about 2 cups.

Place plastic wrap directly on the 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 about 2 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 confectioners' sugar. Serve right away.

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

Tested by Shulie Madnick


Author's Note:

For the full image with the pastry cream head over to the original article.

Chanukah Articles:

Chanukah Recipes:

Brandy Doughnuts With Dark Chocolate Marzipan and Strawberry Confiture (To Be Published Soon)
Baked Buttermilk Nutella Ganache Doughnuts (To Be Published Soon)

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