Brioche Doughnuts Filled with Italian Mocha Buttercream

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I’m not a huge fan of frosting, especially the overly-sweet American buttercream. Italian meringue buttercream, however, is one of those great inventions of pastry – silky, light and luscious. It’s stable, holds its shape well and is forgiving when things go a bit awry (which they usually do when meringue is involved). So, when I ran out of cream, I decided to swap the creme patissiere (which is the traditional filling for brioche doughnuts) with this dreamy mocha buttercream.

These doughnuts are light-as-air, tossed in crystals of sugar and filled with the most luscious mocha buttercream. And although the recipe is long (and takes a few hours of kneading, whisking and frying), it is well worth the wait and work.

Notes:
*This recipe makes 10-13 doughnuts, using a 2-inch round cutter. If you do not have a round cutter, use any round object with sharp edges.
*These doughnuts are best eaten the same day. When stored in the fridge, they lose their light and pillowy texture.
*The brioche dough can be frozen for up to a month. Shape into a ball, place inside a freezer bag,  press all the air out and seal. When you want to bake with it, place in the fridge to thaw overnight. Then turn onto a floured surface and let it rest for 20 minutes.
*Please be careful while pouring the sugar syrup into the egg whites.The syrup is extremely hot and can cause severe burns.
*The sugar syrup should not be poured on to the whisk, otherwise you risk it splashing over you. If using a hand-held whisk, ask a second person to help you pour in the sugar mixture. 

 

For the Mocha buttercream:

Ingredients:

  1. 120 g castor sugar
  2. 1 teaspoon honey
  3. 30 ml water
  4. 2 egg whites
  5. 200 g unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
  6. 40 g dark chocolate, melted and at room temperature
  7. 1/2 shot of espresso, at room temperature

Method:

  1. Add the sugar, honey and water to a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved completely. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring to a boil and boil the mixture for 3 minutes BUT DO NOT STIR! Cook the mixture to the soft ball stage (or 120°C). If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can test the temperature of your sugar using this method.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or using an electric whisk), whip the egg whites to soft peaks. (when you lift the whisk, it should have a soft peak that droops slightly).
  3. Slowly pour a steady stream of the sugar syrup into the egg whites, being careful not to hit the whisk. Continue whisking till stiff peaks form and the meringue has cooled slightly.
  4. Add the softened butter, one cube at a time until fully incorporated. Stir in the chocolate and espresso. Chill in the fridge until ready to use.
  5. When ready to assemble, transfer the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle.

For the doughnuts:

Ingredients:

  1. 4 g instant yeast hydrated with 1/8 cup of warm water
  2. 75 g water
  3. 250 g  flour
  4. 30 g caster sugar
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. 2 eggs
  7. zest of 1/2 lemon
  8. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  9. 65 g softened unsalted butter, cubed

Method:

  1. Mix the yeast with the warm water, and let the foam double in size.
  2.  To make the brioche dough, mix the flour, sugar, water, activated yeast, lemon zest, vanilla, salt and eggs into the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment and mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until it’s all combined. Then turn up the speed to medium high and let it run for about 5 minutes, or until the dough starts coming away from the sides and forms a ball.
  3. Slowly add the butter to the dough, a spoonful  at a time. Once the butter is incorporated, mix on high speed for 5 minutes until the dough is glossy, smooth and very elastic when pulled.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to proof in the bowl until it has doubled in size, about 1-2 hours. Punch down the dough, cover it and place in the fridge overnight.
  5. The next day, take the dough out of the fridge tip the sough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a rough shape with 1 inch thickness. Using a 2 inch round cutter, cut as many doughnuts as you can. Re-roll and cut using the scraps. Place on a floured baking tray, leaving plenty of room for them – so they don’t stick together while they proof. Cover lightly with a towel and leave at room temperature for 20 minutes.

To fry and assemble:

Ingredients:

  1. 300 ml vegetable oil
  2. 70 g castor sugar, for tossing

Method:

  1. Fry the donuts! Place the oil into a large heavy-bottomed pan set over medium-low heat. I didn’t use a thermometer, but the oil should ideally be between 175-180 degrees.
  2. While the oil comes to temperature, add castor sugar to a bowl  and set aside. Line a baking tray with paper towels to absorb excess oil.
  3. Once at temperature, fry the doughnuts. Don’t overcrowd the fryer – do two to three per batch, depending on the size of your pan. Place on paper towel and then toss in sugar while doughnuts are still warm.
  4. Once done frying and coating, use a sharp knife to make a small hole into the sides of the doughnuts. Remove the butter from the refrigerator.
  5. Pipe the buttercream into the hole, making sure that a bit of it oozes out the top of the doughnut.

Brioche Doughnuts Filled with Lemon Curd

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The very first brioche doughnut I ever ate was in London. Soon after I moved there, I knew I had to get my hands on the internet-famous doughnuts from Bread Ahead Bakery at Borough Market. And they are, to this day, the best doughnuts I have ever eaten.

These doughnuts are not as perfect, but are pretty fabulous in their own way. Pillowy and light, with a soft, airy inside and filled with the most delicious lemon curd.

 

*This recipe makes 10-13 doughnuts (using a 2 inch cutter)

For the lemon curd:

Ingredients:

  1. 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  2. 90 g castor sugar
  3. juice of 1 lemon
  4. zest of 1/4 lemon
  5. 60 g butter, cold and cut into cubes

Method:

  1. The lemon curd should ideally be made the day before you want to assemble your doughnuts so it can firm up to a pipe-able consistency .
  2. In a heat-proof bowl, add the egg yolks and sugar and whisk for 2 minutes until pale. Add in the lemon juice and zest and whisk to combine.
  3. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. The water should be at a light simmer, and not at a heavy boil.
  4. Whisk every 2 minutes, until the curd thickens up to the consistency of whipped cream. It will take about 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and add in the butter, a cube at a time. Mix after every addition.
  6. Cover the surface of the lemon curd with plastic wrap (making sure the wrap touches the surface of the curd) and place in the refrigerator to chill completely, for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  7. When you want to assemble the doughnuts, transfer the lemon curd into a piping bag fitted with a round tip. Place the piping bag in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the doughnuts:

Ingredients:

  1. 4 g instant yeast hydrated with 1/8 cup of warm water
  2. 75 g water
  3. 250 g  flour
  4. 30 g caster sugar
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. 2 eggs
  7. zest of 1/2 lemon
  8. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  9. 65 g softened unsalted butter, cubed

Method:

  1. Mix the yeast with the warm water, and let the foam double in size.
  2.  To make the brioche dough, mix the flour, sugar, water, activated yeast, lemon zest, vanilla, salt and eggs into the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment and mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until it’s all combined. Then turn up the speed to medium high and let it run for about 5 minutes, or until the dough starts coming away from the sides and forms a ball.
  3. Slowly add the butter to the dough, a spoonful  at a time. Once the butter is incorporated, mix on high speed for 5 minutes until the dough is glossy, smooth and very elastic when pulled.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to proof in the bowl until it has doubled in size, about 1-2 hours. Punch down the dough, cover it and place in the fridge overnight.
  5. The next day, take the dough out of the fridge tip the sough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a rough shape with 1 inch thickness. Using a 2 inch round cutter, cut as many doughnuts as you can. Re-roll and cut using the scraps. Place on a floured baking tray, leaving plenty of room for them – so they don’t stick together while they proof. Cover lightly with a towel and leave at room temperature for 20 minutes.

To fry and assemble:

Ingredients:

  1. 300 ml vegetable oil
  2. 70 g castor sugar, for tossing
  3. zest of 1/2 lemon

Method:

  1. Fry the donuts! Place the oil into a large heavy-bottomed pan set over medium-low heat. I didn’t use a thermometer, but the oil should ideally be between 175-180 degrees.
  2. While the oil comes to temperature, add castor sugar and lemon zest to a bowl and run the zest into the sugar until it smells lemony. Set aside. Line a baking tray with paper towels to absorb excess oil.
  3. Once at temperature, fry the doughnuts. Don’t overcrowd the fryer – do two to three per batch, depending on the size of your pan. Place on paper towel and then toss in sugar while doughnuts are still warm.
  4. Once done frying and coating, use a sharp knife to make a small hole into the sides of the doughnuts. Remove the lemon curd from the refrigerator.
  5. Pipe the curd into the hole, making sure that a bit of it oozes out the top of the doughnut.

Salted Caramel Brioche Doughnuts

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Fact: Life is 1000% easier with doughnuts. Pillowy and light, these brioche doughnuts are the ultimate way to start your morning. The crème patissiere takes this beautiful dough to another level. Made with a dark salted caramel and balanced with a touch of sea salt, it is the best crème patissiere you will ever make – I always make some extra to snack on!

Notes:
*This recipe makes 10-13 doughnuts (using a 2 inch cutter).
*Both, the brioche dough and crème patissiere should ideally be made the day before frying.
*The doughnuts are best consumed the same day.

For the crème patissiere:

Ingredients:

  1. 70 g granulated sugar
  2. 3 egg yolks
  3. 13 g cornstarch
  4. 1 vanilla bean
  5. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  6. 155 ml whole milk
  7. 70 ml heavy cream

Method:

  1. The crème patissiere should ideally be made the day before. To start, add 3/4 of the sugar into a large saucepan and cook over medium heat. Do not stir and let the caramel turn deep amber colour.
  2. Meanwhile, place the egg yolks, cornstarch and remaining 1/4 sugar into a mixing bowl. Whisk for about 2-3 minutes or until pale and doubled in volume.
  3. Next, add the milk and vanilla bean + seeds into a medium sized saucepan. Cook until the milk comes to a light simmer.
  4. Once the caramel is done, add it to the simmering milk and whisk to combine. The mixture will bubble and coagulate. Keep whisking, it will eventually come together.
  5. Add a little bit of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly.
  6. Pour the yolk mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thick and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the sea salt. Transfer to a heat-proof bowl.
  7. Cover the surface of the cream with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill completely, for at least 4 hours.
  8. When you want to assemble the doughnuts, place the heavy cream into a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, whisk the cream until stiff peaks from. Add 1/3 of the cream into the chilled crème patissiere and fold together. Then add the remaining cream and fold together until smooth.
  9. Transfer the crème patissiere into a piping bag fitted with a round tip. Place the piping bag in the refrigerator until ready to use.

 

For the doughnuts:

Ingredients:

  1. 4 g instant yeast hydrated with 1/8 cup of warm water
  2. 75 g water
  3. 250 g  flour
  4. 30 g caster sugar
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. 2 eggs
  7. Zest of ½ lemon
  8. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  9. 65 g softened unsalted butter, cubed

Method:

  1. Mix the yeast with the warm water, and let the foam double in size.
  2.  To make the brioche dough, mix the flour, sugar, water, activated yeast, lemon zest, vanilla salt and eggs into the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment and mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until it’s all combined. Then turn up the speed to medium high and let it run for about 5 minutes, or until the dough starts coming away from the sides and forms a ball.
  3. Slowly add the butter to the dough, a spoonful  at a time. Once the butter is incorporated, mix on high speed for 5 minutes until the dough is glossy, smooth and very elastic when pulled.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to proof in the bowl until it has doubled in size, about 1-2 hours. Punch down the dough, cover it and place in the fridge overnight.
  5. The next day, take the dough out of the fridge and roll into 1 inch thickness. Using a 2 inch round cutter, cut as many doughnuts as you can. Re-roll and cut using the scraps. Place on a floured baking tray, leaving plenty of room for them – so they don’t stick together while they proof. Cover lightly with a towel and leave at room temperature for 20 minutes.

To assemble:

Ingredients:

  1. 300 ml vegetable oil
  2. Castor sugar, for tossing

Method:

  1. Fry the donuts! Place the oil into a large heavy-bottomed pan set over medium-low heat. I didn’t use a thermometer, but the oil should ideally be between 175-180 degrees.
  2. While the oil comes to temperature, add castor sugar to a bowl and set aside. Line a baking tray with paper towels to absorb excess oil.
  3. Once at temperature, fry the doughnuts. Don’t overcrowd the fryer – do two to three per batch, depending on the size of your pan. Place on paper towel and then coat in sugar while still warm.
  4. Once done frying and coating, use a sharp knife to make a small hole into the sides of the doughnuts. Remove the crème patissiere from the refrigerator.
  5. Pipe the cream into the doughnut hole, making sure that a bit of it oozes out the top of the doughnut. Sprinkle a bit of sea salt on top of the dollops.
  6. The doughnuts are best when they’re still warm.