Berlim custard doughnuts

Berlim custard doughnuts

Bolas de berlim

12 doughnuts
Steven Joyce

Although these are related to the famous Berliner doughnuts from Germany, they are subtly different; they are bigger and instead of the filling being pumped inside, are split like sandwiches, before being generously stuffed with custard. They are a favourite beachside treat, where a quick dip in the sea helps remove the stickiness they leave around mouths and on fingers.

A pan thermometer is useful for this recipe because if the oil is too hot, the doughnuts will burn on the outside before they are cooked within.


Quantity Ingredient


Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
150ml slightly warm whole milk
50g caster sugar, plus 3–4 tablespoons for coating the doughnuts
50g salted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs, plus 1 yolk
pinch salt
500g plain flour, plus extra to dust
flavourless oil, for greasing bowl and for frying


Quantity Ingredient
250ml whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cinnamon stick
2 pared strips unwaxed lemon zest
50g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon plain flour
11/2 tablespoons cornflour


  1. Activate the yeast by mixing it in a jug or bowl with the just-warm milk and sugar. Leave to stand for 10 minutes – it should develop a frothy head.
  2. Whisk together the cooled melted butter, eggs and yolk, and salt, then, once the yeast has done its thing, whisk the egg mixture into the yeasty milk.
  3. Tip the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the centre, then pour in the milk–egg mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon and, once it starts to form a dough, use your hands to bring it together into a rough ball. Turn it out onto a clean floured surface and knead with floured hands for about 10 minutes, adding a little more flour if it’s really sticky, until smooth and elastic. Alternatively, use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and knead for 6 minutes instead.
  4. Tip the smooth, soft dough into a clean and lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film (plastic wrap) and leave in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour or more, until doubled in size.
  5. Meanwhile, make the filling. Place the milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon stick and strips of lemon zest in a saucepan and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat.
  6. Whisk the sugar, egg yolks and both flours in a heavy bowl until really smooth and creamy.
  7. Remove the cinnamon and lemon zest from the milk and skim off any skin that has formed on the surface. Add a tablespoon of the hot milk to the egg yolk mixture, whisking vigorously. Continue adding the hot milk, a tablespoon at a time, adding it slowly but whisking quickly, so that the eggs don’t start to cook and scramble. (Using a heavy bowl will stop the bowl moving as you whisk with one hand and pour with the other.) After adding 6–7 tablespoons of milk, pour the mixture into the saucepan, still off the heat, in a steady stream, whisking all the time. Be sure to really get into the corners of the pan, to prevent lumps forming.
  8. Once all the yolk mixture is incorporated, set the pan over the lowest possible heat and cook, whisking continuously, for 5–10 minutes, until the custard thickens. Remove from the heat and continue to whisk for 3–4 minutes longer. The custard should thicken even further. Pour it into a heatproof bowl and cover the surface of the custard with a layer of cling film (plastic wrap), to stop a skin forming. Allow to cool, then chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour to firm up, until needed.
  9. Once the dough has risen, turn it out of the bowl and knock back to its original size, then divide it into 12 equal-sized pieces. Roll each piece into a neat ball and place them all on a baking sheet dusted with flour. Leave to rise again in a warm place for about 30 minutes.
  10. When ready to cook, place a deep frying pan over a high heat and fill it with about 6 cm of flavourless oil. Heat the oil until it reaches 160ºC on a pan thermometer – any hotter and the doughnuts will brown too quickly but be raw in the centre.
  11. Cook 2–3 doughnuts at a time in the hot oil for 2½–3 minutes on each side, until they are a light golden brown on the outside and fluffy and fully cooked within. (You may have to sacrifice one of your first batch in order to check they are cooked through.) Drain on a plate lined with paper towel.
  12. Put the remaining 3–4 tablespoonfuls of caster sugar into a shallow bowl and roll the hot doughnuts in it. Next, use a sharp knife to cut about two-thirds of the way through each one, then fill them, like a sandwich, with a heaped tablespoonful or two of the chilled, firm custard. Serve straight away – these don’t keep, nor will you want them to!
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