Have you ever had the creme brûlée doughnuts from Doughnut Plant in NYC? They are hands-down, my favourite doughnut in the world. Imagine biting into a super-soft, fluffy doughnut with a crisp caramelized sugar crust. If the brûléed top isn’t enough for you, it’s filled with an incredibly silky vanilla custard. Soft, creamy and crunchy, it’s everything you never knew you wanted in a doughnut.
Doughnut Plant has been on my radar forever, but I only first tried their doughnuts two years ago. From that first bite I was hooked. I love a good, fluffy yeast doughnut with a bit of chew. We tried several flavours, but the one we went back for was the crème brûlée. Of course, with my luck, the day we went back for more was a Monday, the only day of the week Doughnut Plant is closed.
Such is our love for Doughnut Plant that Mike and I have now made it a habit to go every time we’re in NYC. We’ll get off the subway at Grand and wander through Chinatown until we reach our sweet prize at the end of our short walk. We usually get a crème brûlée doughnut and one of the specials, but we always end up fighting over the crème brûlée.
To satisfy my crème brûlée doughnut habit I decided to give them a go at home. This was a fun recipe to try out, but brûlée-ing the tops of doughnuts is not as easy as you think it would be. I tried a couple of different methods of torching: just the glaze, brown sugar mixed into the glaze, glaze dipped into brown sugar, glaze sprinkled with brown sugar, glaze dipped into white sugar, and finally, the one that worked best, glaze sprinkled with white sugar.
I wasn’t able to get as much of a sugar crust on the doughnuts, but they’re quite tasty anyway. Still, I think I’d much rather fly down to NYC or one of the seven (yes, seven!) locations in Japan for a taste of the real thing.
Crème Brûlée Doughnut Recipe adapted from gracessweetlife.com
yield: 32 mini doughnuts
- 1/2 cup bread flour
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon, slightly heaping yeast
- 1/4 cup milk, warmed to 105F
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
- pastry creme
- doughnut glaze
- vegetable or canola oil for frying
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 to 3/4 cups icing sugar
- 1 tablespoons water
- splash of vanilla extract
Mix together the flours, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm milk. Work the milk and the dry ingredients together with your fingers.
Add the eggs and work the ingredients until you have a rough ball of dough. Add the butter, a bit at a time until it is thoroughly mixed in. At this point you can either knead the dough by hand for 10-15 minutes until smooth and elastic or you can put it in your stand mixer and mix knead with the dough hook for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
When the dough is smooth, elastic and not sticky, transfer it to a large clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The dough should be doubled in size.
Make the pastry cream: Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. In another heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, whisk the yolks, sugar, and cornstarch together until thick and pale. Whisking all the while, very slowly drizzle a quarter of the hot milk onto the yolks. Then, still whisking, pour the rest of the liquid in a steady stream over the tempered yolks.
Put the pan over medium heat and while whisking vigorously, bring the mixture to the boil. Keep the mixture at the boil, whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes. The mixture should start to thicken. When thick, remove the pan from the heat and scrape the pastry cream into a clean bowl. Allow the pastry cream to cool on the counter for about 3 minutes.
Cut the butter into chunks and stir the chunks into the hot pastry cream, continuing to stir until the butter is melted and incorporated. At this point, the cream needs to be thoroughly chilled. Set the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water and stir the cream from time to time to cool. When chilled, place the pastry cream into a pastry bag with a plain tip.
When the dough is doubled, transfer to a clean, lightly floured work surface and roll the dough until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Cut out the doughnuts using a 1-inch round cookie cutter. Transfer the doughnuts to a parchment paper lined baking sheet lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Cover and let rice, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. They doughnuts should be doubled in volume and appear full of air.
Heat oil in a cast iron skillet until between 320-340F. Prepare a plate with paper towels to drain your hot doughnuts on. Gently place doughnuts in the hot oil and fry until golden on both sides, about 2-4 minutes.
Fill the doughnuts while they’re still warm. Use a sharp paring knife to make a small hole on one side of the doughnut. Insert the pastry tip into the hole and pipe pastry cream until the doughnut feels heavy.
Make the glaze: mix all ingredients together until smooth. Dip the tops of the doughnuts into the glaze and set down on a baking sheet, glaze side up. Lightly sprinkle on a small amount of sugar onto the glaze. Using a kitchen torch, torch the top of the doughnut until caramelized and brown. Enjoy doughnuts immediately.