Boston Cream Donuts & Apple Fritters
At the age of eighteen, I took a year off of studying to work. That post-high school moratorium of “I don’t know what to do with my life!” So I decided to work in a bakery for Canada’s number one coffee and doughnut chain. For one full year I pumped out doughnuts of every variety, every night between 11pm-7am for minimum wage. It only took about a month to realize I wasn’t going to be doing this my whole life. It was exhausting, lonely, and poorly paid. But I fulfilled that year and made the most of it. That coffee chain may not have rewarded me much in dollars, but they certainly paid me in industry secrets whether they wanted to or not.
I can tell you that after making hundreds of thousands of donuts, you just don’t see them the same way. But two varieties I’ll never tire of is the Boston Cream Donut and the Apple Fritter. I don’t make them very often, but when I do, it’s because I’ve got a killer craving that Norwegian doughnuts can’t even come close to matching. Doughnuts, particularly yeast doughnuts need to be fresh, soft, sweet and generous. Unfortunately you won’t find that here. Like most foods I miss from Canada, the only way to satisfy my craving is to make it myself.
With the Boston Cream Donut, there are three elements to be mindful of: the dough, the cream, and the chocolate glaze. Doughnut dough requires a bit of practice, but the single most important thing to remember is that it shouldn’t be overly dry. Dry dough will cause the doughnut to be chewy and well, dry. With the pastry cream you can use whatever vanilla cream is your favorite, but when making it you’ll see that I’ve used agar agar. Agar works similar to gelatin but has a higher melting point. Gelatin melts at room temperature, so while filling the doughnuts the cream will get thinner as you handle it. Agar agar will remain stable at room temperature which also allows you to keep the doughnuts out longer.
These two varieties of donuts work well together because when you’re finished cutting out the round doughnuts, you can use the scraps of dough to make fritters. The fritters don’t have to be apple – raspberry or blueberry are also very good, but be sure to use frozen berries dusted in flour so they don’t bleed through the dough. The fritter recipe follows the Boston Cream recipe.
Boston Cream Donuts
- 2 cups whole milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2 tbsp vanilla sugar
- 1½ tbsp agar agar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
1. In a large bowl, combine sugar, vanilla sugar, agar agar, and egg yolks. Beat with an electric mixer for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is pale yellow and fluffy.
2. In a pot over medium-high heat, bring the milk to a boil.
3. Pour the hot milk into the sugar/egg mixture while beating on high speed. Pour the blended mixture back into the pot and heat over low-medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the custard thickens and coats the back of the spoon. About 5-10 minutes.
4. Pour the custard through a strainer, into a clean bowl. Let cool for 15 minutes, then wrap in plastic, allowing the plastic wrap to touch the surface of the custard. Cool to room temperature and chill in the refrigerator until the donuts are ready to be filled, 3-4 hours.
- 5½-6 (700-750g) cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 100g butter
- 75g sugar
- 50g fresh yeast
1. Warm the butter and milk in a saucepan over medium heat. You should be able to stick your finger in it without burning. If it’s too hot, let it cool down.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and crumbled up yeast. Using a dough hook, stir the dry ingredients.
3. Pour the milk/butter mixture slowly into the dry ingredients while the dough hook mixes it on low speed.
4. After the liquid is combined with the flour, turn the speed up to medium and knead for about 7 minutes. The dough should be slightly sticky but still pulls away from the side of the bowl. If the dough sticks then add 1 tbsp flour at a time until it starts to pull away.
5. Remove the dough hook and let the dough rise for 60-90min, loosely covered.
6. You’ll want to put each donut on its own individual piece of parchment paper. Cut sheets of parchment paper into squares about twice as big as the donut cutter.
7. Punch the dough down and scrape it out of the bowl, onto a clean and lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough out to about an inch (2.5cm) in thickness. Cut the dough, using a donut cutter or a clean empty tuna can. Let rise for 30-45mins.
8. Heat oil to 375°F/190°C. Carefully pick up the donut by the corners of the parchment paper. Flip upside down into the oil and peel off the paper. Careful not to splash yourself. Fry for 60-90 seconds until deep golden, then flip over using a pair of chopsticks. Fry for another 60-90 seconds. If making fritters, then certainly fry closer to the 90 second mark as the dough surrounding the chunks of apple will take longer to cook.
9. Transfer to a wire rack using a slotted spoon. Be sure to place the rack over a baking sheet to catch any excess oil. Bang the rack against the baking sheet to remove any oil.
10. Let cool completely before filling and glazing.
- 400g semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/4 cup vanilla icing sugar
- 2 tbsp soft butter
In a double boiler, melt the chocolate. Then whip in the icing sugar and butter. Keep the chocolate warm, but be careful not to overheat it or it will seize up.
1. Fill a piping bag with custard and attach the long insertion tip to the bag.
2. Squeeze the bag to allow a generous amount of custard to fill the donut, roughly 1-2 tbsp.
3. After all the donuts are filled, dip one at a time in the melted chocolate. Using the smooth edge of a butter knife, remove any excess chocolate, letting it fall back into the bowl.
The Boston Cream Donuts are now ready to serve.
To make apple fritters from the excess dough, simply peel, core and chop 1 apple (any variety). Roll the dough out to about an inch thickness and pile the apple on and 1 tbsp of cinnamon. Using a pastry scraper, cut the apple chunks into the dough by continuously folding the dough over.
Proof them and fry them the same as for the donuts. After taking them out of the oil, you can dip them directly into a icing sugar glaze or let them cool completely and dust them with icing sugar and cinnamon.