• Fresh, hot doughnuts filled with coffee custard. (Sharyn Cairns)Source: Sharyn Cairns

Coffee, custard and doughnuts. Individually they are capable of foiling the plans of even the most zealous healthy eater. Together they are transcendent.






Skill level

Average: 3.1 (44 votes)

I’m all for a healthy balanced diet, I just feel that to achieve that balance, doughnuts deserve to be a feature, though maybe not every day.



  • 7 g dried active yeast
  • 160 ml full-cream milk
  • 490 g plain flour
  • 50 g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 pinch fine salt
  • 100 g unsalted butter, cut into cubes and softened
  • rice bran oil, for deep-frying
  • caster sugar, for dusting

Custard filling

  • 310 ml full-cream milk
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) espresso
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 40 g plain flour
  • 1 pinch fine salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) thickened cream

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Resting time: overnight
Proving time: 1 hour

For the doughnuts, combine the milk and yeast in a bowl and lightly whisk together. Cover the bowl and pop it some place warm for 15 minutes so that the yeast can become active.

Transfer the yeast mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer that is fitted with a dough hook. Add the flour, sugar, eggs and salt and turn the mixer on to a low speed. Mix for a few minutes so that the dough comes together, then add the butter, piece by piece. Keep mixing on low for 5 minutes or so or until the butter is totally incorporated and the dough is smooth. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and wrap with plastic wrap, then pop it in the fridge to rest overnight.

The next day, remove the dough from the fridge and transfer it to a floured bench. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough out to about 2 cm thick. Use a 10 cm round cutter to cut out the doughnut portions and transfer them to a lined baking tray. If you don’t have a cutter then just cut out 12 roughly square portions - no one said doughnuts have to be round! Rub a little oil onto the top of the doughnuts (if you don’t, the plastic wrap can stick to the dough when proved), then cover the tray with plastic wrap, placing it somewhere warm for 1 hour or so to prove. After the doughnuts have doubled in size, they’re ready to fry.

While the dough is proving, make the custard filling. Combine the milk and espresso in a saucepan and place over medium heat. As soon as steam appears to come off the surface, turn off the heat.

In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour and salt, then whisk in the egg yolks to form a thick paste. Slowly pour the warm milk into the bowl, whisking as you do. If that is a little too dexterous, feel free to pour a little and then whisk a little until the mixture is smooth and combined.

Transfer the custard into a clean saucepan and place over medium heat. Continue stirring and whisking as the custard cooks for about 10 minutes. When the custard is thick and has just bubbled, remove from the heat and strain into a clean bowl.

Place a layer of plastic wrap over the custard, being sure that it is touching the surface, to prevent a skin from forming. Place the bowl in the fridge to cool.

Once the custard is slightly warmer than room temperature, remove from the fridge. Whisk the thickened cream to soft peaks, then fold in through the custard. Spoon the custard into piping bags, ready to fill the doughnuts.

In a heavy-based saucepan, heat the oil to 180˚C; if you don’t have a thermometer, the oil should sizzle nicely as soon as you place the doughnut in. Cook the doughnuts, in batches, for 2 minutes on each side, turning them so that they brown nice and evenly. Use a slotted spoon to remove the doughnuts from the oil and place onto a tray lined with paper towel to drain.

Once cooled slightly, roll the doughnuts in caster sugar, then use the tip of a small knife to make an incision into the centre of the doughnut. To finish, pipe in the coffee custard and enjoy immediately.


Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Tiffany Louise Page. Creative concept by Belinda So.


Paul West is the host of River Cottage Australia, 6pm weeknights on SBS and on SBS On Demand. For more recipes from Paul, click here.