In a world that makes very little sense right now, we can all count on one thing: Doughnuts are delicious. Especially when they are Maple Vanilla Cream Stuffed Chai Doughnuts. A-men.
These yeasted doughnuts are fluffy and soft and chai-spiced and rolled in cinnamon sugar and then filled with a simple homemade maple vanilla bean pastry cream that you’ll want to spoon straight into your mouth (thank goodness you’ll have extra so you can do so). All you have to do is get up off the couch, get into the kitchen, bake and believe in the healing powers of sweet dough and spice. I know I do.
Doughnuts are the kind of thing I like to bake when I need the therapy, or when I want to show someone — even myself — that I care deeply about them. Baked doughnuts have a special place in my heart, sure, but there is something to be said for a homemade fried doughnut, one that requires a little more finesse and time and patience for the reward of a made-from-scratch sweet treat with those you love around the table. It’s what this whole making food thing is about for me, after all.
Of course, don’t let the amount of ingredients, steps or time deter you — truly I tell you, doughnuts need not be intimidating. The dough is a simple enriched dough made with my go-to Red Star Yeast, and it’s very forgiving. If it doesn’t rise as well as you’d hoped, or if you don’t have a round cookie or biscuit cutter and instead need to use the top of a mason jar or drinking glass to cut out the doughnuts, or if the oil is at 385 degrees F instead of a perfect 375 degrees F, or if you accidentally overfill the doughnuts with the cream and some of it oozes out, don’t worry. All of the above happened to me and yet, here we are. We made it through the tough stuff and we’re still OK.
A few notes to keep in mind when making this recipe:
1. Make the pastry cream the day (or days) before. It’ll cut your prep time considerably and that’s crucial when doughnuts are on the line.
2. If you’ve got one of those filling tips, use it to fill the doughnuts. I’ve got this one and it works great.
3. Use a candy thermometer (like this one) to keep accurate track of the temperature of the oil. If you’ve actually got a deep fryer at home, you’re my hero.
As with most doughnuts, these taste the absolute best when they’re still slightly warm from the fryer, but they’ll still hold up well the whole day. I wouldn’t recommend taking any shortcuts, either. Just be sure to set aside some quality time early in the morning with you, Bon Iver on repeat, your kitchen and this dough. In a few hours, fresh stuffed doughnut in hand, you’ll almost feel like all is right with the world again. I promise.
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 cups whole or 2% milk
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Seeds from 1 vanilla bean
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons Red Star active dry yeast
- ½ cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
- ¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 bag chai tea
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cardamom
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- ¼ cup granulated sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- In medium bowl, beat egg yolks. Gradually stir in milk until combined.
- In large saucepan, stir sugar, cornstarch and salt until combined. Stir in small amount of milk mixture to form smooth paste. Gradually stir in remaining milk mixture until combined.
- Heat saucepan over medium-low heat and cook mixture, stirring constantly, 15 to 20 minutes until mixture thickens and comes to boil. Continue to cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
- Set pan in larger bowl or pan of ice water to cool quickly. Cool 10 minutes, stirring mixture gently every 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in vanilla bean seeds and maple syrup until just combined. Transfer cream to airtight container. Place sheet of plastic wrap directly on surface of cream to prevent a skin from forming. Seal container and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
- To make doughnuts: In small bowl, whisk yeast, water and 1 teaspoon sugar to dissolve yeast. Add chai tea bag. Steep 10 minutes until yeast mixture is foamy, then remove tea bag and squeeze bag to release excess liquid. Discard tea bag.
- In large bowl or bowl of stand mixer, whisk 2½ cups flour, remaining ¼ cup sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom until combined. Make well in center. Add butter, eggs and yeast mixture. Use wooden spoon or dough hook attachment on low speed to stir mixture until soft dough forms.
- On lightly floured surface, knead dough by hand 10 to 15 minutes, adding just enough of remaining ½ cup flour until dough is soft, smooth, elastic and only slightly sticky; OR, using dough hook attachment on medium speed, knead dough in stand mixer 5 to 7 minutes, adding just enough of remaining ½ cup flour until dough is soft, smooth, elastic and only slightly sticky. Shape dough into ball and place in lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or tea towel and let rise in warm place 1½ to 2 hours until doubled.
- Punch down risen dough. On lightly floured surface, roll out dough to ¼-inch thickness. Use 2½-inch round cookie cutter to cut dough into circles (re-roll scraps as necessary). Cover with tea towel and let rest 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in medium saucepan over medium heat, heat approximately 4 cups vegetable oil to 375 degrees F. Place cinnamon-sugar coating in shallow bowl. Drop doughnuts 2 to 3 at a time in hot oil and fry 30 seconds each side until deep golden brown. Use slotted spoon to transfer doughnuts to paper towel-lined plate to drain, then roll in cinnamon-sugar coating. Repeat with remaining doughnuts.
- When cool enough to handle, poke skewer in one side of each doughnut. Attach plain tip to piping bag and fill with approximately 1 cup chilled cream (reserve extra cream for another use, like spooning directly into your mouth). Poke tip in hole of doughnut and pipe about 1 to 2 tablespoons cream into doughnut. Repeat with remaining doughnuts. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Disclosure: I received compensation from Red Star Yeast for recipe development purposes. All opinions are my own. Post contains affiliate links.