Gingerbread Doughnuts

These gingerbread doughnuts use a soft, enriched brioche dough and are filled with a creamy gingerbread custard. You’ll need a little bit of time to prepare them, but all good things take time!

birds eye of gingerbread doughnuts in a silver pan.

These doughnuts blend the warm, spicy flavors of gingerbread – rich molasses, ground ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg, with a soft yeasted dough. Once fried to a golden brown they’re filled with lots of creamy gingerbread custard. Love at first bite! 

Yeasted donuts are pillowy soft and tender and one of my favorite things to make. Though they take some time to prepare, the good news is lots of it is hands off time as the dough rises. 

You might like these lemon curd doughnuts too!

side view of gingerbread doughnuts in a silver pan.

Ingredients

Here’s what you need for the homemade gingerbread donuts. Find the ingredient quantities and full recipe written in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post. 

  • All-purpose flour. One with a protein level of around 11%. 
  • Instant yeast or active dry yeast.
  • Granulated white sugar. Adds a little sweetness to the dough.
  • Whole milk – For the creates creamy custard and soft dough.
  • Egg yolks and large eggs: Structure and texture in the dough, and the base of the custard.
  • Unsalted butter: Enriches the dough and the gingerbread pastry cream.
  • Vanilla extract and salt
  • Gingerbread spices – ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground cloves and ground nutmeg
  • Molasses – For the custard. I use unsulfered dark molasses. You could also use blackstrap molasses or treacle.
  • Cornstarch – To thicken the custard filling
  • Vegetable oil. A neutral type like canola oil or sunflower oil, with a high smoke point, for frying

Method

Doughnut dough

  1. Add the warm milk and stir in the yeast and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. If using active dry yeast, let this sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
thick dough in a mixer.
  1. Add the egg, flour, and salt to the yeast mixture. Turn the mixer on low speed or use your hands to combine until it forms a sticky, thick dough. Mix this dough for around 2 minutes.
hand adding butter to dough.
  1.  Next, add the room temperature butter. Turn the mixer on medium speed until the sticky dough strengthens and comes together.
glossy doughnut dough.
  1.  For best results mix the dough for at least 10 minutes for the best gluten development. It should pull away cleanly from the sides of the bowl.
a bowl of risen dough.
  1. Shape the dough into a ball and place it into a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it proof in a warm spot until doubled in size.

Overnight Option: Let the dough chill overnight in the refrigerator for deeper flavor (this is a good idea if you want doughnuts on Christmas morning.)

Custard

spices, cornflour and starch being whisked.
  1. Whisk egg yolks, sugar, spices, salt, vanilla, molasses and cornstarch in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Heat milk in a medium saucepan on medium heat while stirring regularly until just simmering.
hot milk tempering eggs in a glass bowl.
  1. Gradually dribble the milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking while it’s being poured in.
gingerbread custard bubbling in saucepan.
  1. Then return the combined mixture to the saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly until it bubbles. Once it starts bubbling, it will begin to thicken. Keep it at a bubble don’t stop whisking for 1 minute.
butter whisked into gingerbread custard.
  1. Take it off the heat and whisk in the butter. Pour the hot pastry cream into a clean bowl. If you want an extra silky smooth texture, you can push it through a fine mesh sieve first.
  1. Lay a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard to avoid skin forming. Let it come to room temperature, then chill it in the refrigerator until completely cold.

Shaping

hand punching down dough.
  1. Punch down the dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll it into a ½-inch thick rectangle.
dough circle being cut.
  1. Use a cookie cutter to cut out 3.5-inch rounds, placing each on parchment paper. Knead any scraps into a ball, rest, then roll again.
birds eye of dough rounds on parchment paper.
  1. Let cut doughnuts rest for 30-60 minutes until puffy, cutting around the parchment paper with kitchen scissors so each doughnut is on a separate piece. 
doughnuts in oil with parchment paper.
  1. Heat around 3 inches of oil in a deep fryer or deep saucepan to 340°F – 347°F. Carefully add in 2-3 doughnuts into the hot oil, removing parchment with tongs.
fried dougnut on slotted spoon.
  1. Fry for 2 minutes until deep golden brown, flip, and fry for another 2 minutes. Keep oil hot but under 350°F.
fried donuts on wire rack.
  1. Remove the fried donuts with a slotted spoon, then place them on a wire rack or on a paper towel to cool and drain and continue frying the rest of the donuts.
sugar coated fried doughnut.
  1. In a small bowl mix together caster sugar or granulated sugar with cinnamon. Toss the doughnuts into the cinnamon sugar mixture to coat.

You can fill them when the custard and doughnuts are completely cooled.

gingerbread custard being piped into doughnut.
  1. Give the cold custard a whisk to loosen it up, then spoo​n into a piping bag with a round tip.
  1. Insert the tip of a small knife into the sides of the cooled doughnuts to make a hole for the filling. Pipe the custard through the hole into each donut.

Serving and storing

Enjoy with a cup of coffee this holiday season, or serve as a fun treat at a Christmas party.

Once filled, gingerbread doughnuts are best served on the day they are made. Store any leftover doughnuts in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

ripped open gingerbread doughnut with custard.

More great recipes to try!

If you want a really easy recipe for Christmas donuts, try these baked fluffy donuts with maple syrup glaze instead. Or, for another gingerbread or spiced recipe, here’s a molasses gingerbread banana loaf or ​Spiced Chai Blondies.

birds eye of gingerbread doughnuts in a silver pan.

Gingerbread Doughnuts

Yield: 14-16
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 5 hours

These gingerbread doughnuts use a soft, enriched brioche dough and are filled with gingerbread custard.

Ingredients

Doughnut dough

  • 120g (½ cup) luke-warm milk
  • 25g (2 Tablespoons) granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons instant yeast or active dried yeast
  • 375g (3 cups*) all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
  • 113g (½ cup) butter, at room temperature

Custard

  • 480g (2 cups) whole milk
  • 65 g (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
  • 30 g (1/4 cup) cornstarch
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 Tablespoon unsulfered molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 45 g ( 3 Tablespoons) unsalted butter

Coating

  • 100g (1/2 cup) granulated or caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

Dough

  1. Add the warm milk and stir in the yeast and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. If using active dry yeast, let this sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
  2. Add the egg, flour, and salt to the yeast mixture. Turn the mixer on low speed to mix until it forms a sticky, thick dough. Mix this dough for around 2 minutes to begin developing the gluten.  
  3. Next, add the room temperature butter. Turn the mixer on medium speed until the sticky dough strengthens and comes together.  For best results mix the dough for at least 10 minutes for the best gluten development. It should pull away cleanly from the sides of the bowl.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball and place it into a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it proof in a warm spot until doubled in size. You can also proof the dough in the refrigerator overnight for extra flavor. 

Custard

  1. Whisk egg yolks, sugar, spices, salt, vanilla, molasses and cornstarch in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Heat milk in a medium saucepan on medium heat while stirring regularly until just simmering.
  3. Gradually dribble the milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking while it's being poured in. Then return the combined mixture to the saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly until it bubbles.
  4. Once it starts bubbling, it will begin to thicken. Keep it at a bubble don't stop whisking for 1 minute.
  5. Pour the hot pastry cream into a clean bowl. If you want an extra silky smooth texture, you can push it through a fine mesh sieve first. Lay a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard to avoid skin forming.
  6. Let it come to room temperature, then chill it in the refrigerator until completely cold.

Shaping

  1. Punch down the dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll it into a ½-inch thick rectangle. Use a cookie cutter to cut out 3.5-inch rounds, placing each on parchment paper. Knead any scraps into a ball, rest, then roll again.
  2. Let cut doughnuts rest for 30-60 minutes until puffy, cutting around the parchment paper with kitchen scissors so each doughnut is on a separate piece. 
  3. Heat around 3 inches of oil in a deep fryer or deep saucepan to 340°F - 347°F. Carefully add in 2-3 doughnuts into the hot oil, removing parchment with tongs. Fry for 2 minutes until deep golden brown, flip, and fry for another 2 minutes. Keep oil hot but under 350°F.
  4. Remove the fried donuts with a slotted spoon, then place them on a wire rack on a paper towel to cool and continue frying the rest of the donuts.
  5. In a small bowl mix together caster sugar or granulated sugar with cinnamon. Toss the doughnuts into the cinnamon sugar mixture to coat.

Filling

    1. Fill the doughnuts only once they have cooled and the custard has chilled. Give the cold custard a whisk to loosen it up, then spoo​n into a piping bag with a round tip.
    2. Insert the tip of a small knife into the sides of the cooled doughnuts to make a hole for the filling. Pipe the custard through the hole into each donut.

Notes

Storing - Once filled, gingerbread doughnuts are best served on the day they are made. Store any leftover doughnuts in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

*The cup sizes given are US sizes, note that these are smaller than metric. For best results use grams.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 244Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 106mgSodium: 223mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 1gSugar: 9gProtein: 6g

This is an informational estimate only. I am not a certified Dietitian or Nutritionist

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