Italian Desserts

Bomboloni – Italian Doughnuts

May 22, 2020 (Last Updated: May 26, 2020) by Emily

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Soft and light Italian Bomboloni Doughnuts rolled in sugar and filled with Italian pastry cream (crema pasticciera). These doughnuts are insanely delicious and make such a special treat!

An overhead shot of bomboloni doughnuts in a rustic dish

I don’t think there’s much that can beat fresh, warm doughnuts?

Unless they are filled with thick limoncello spiked Italian pastry cream (crema pasticciera), now that is pure heaven!

I’m obsessed with crema pasticciera in every way whether it’s used as a tart filling for Torta della Nonna, mixed with whipped cream and used to fill layer cakes or piped into Italian pastries like cornetti (croissants) or bomboloni.

In Italy bomboloni are often served in bars for breakfast alongside a cappuccino and like cornetti con crema they are generously filled, so much so that they feel heavy in your hand but are so light and delicious when you take a bite.

Fun fact: Bomboloni literally translates as big bombs which is such a perfect name for big round doughnuts jam-packed with an irresistible filling!

What you need to make Italian doughnuts

An overhead shot of all the ingredients you need to make Bomboloni doughnuts

Bomboloni are made with simple store cupboard ingredients including; flour, eggs, butter, milk, sugar, vanilla, fast action yeast, salt and pastry cream.

For a super light doughnut dough use half Italian 00 flour (you can also use all-purpose) and half strong bread flour.

How to Make Bomboloni – Step by Step

How to make the dough

Put the flour, sugar and yeast in the mixer bowl and stir to combine (photo 1).

Scatter cubes of butter over the flour so it’s evenly distributed then pour in the eggs and lukewarm milk (photo 2).

Step by step photos showing how to prepare doughnut dough in a stand mixer

Attach a dough hook attachment to the mixer then knead on a low speed for 10 minutes (on a KitchenAid mixer I use speed 2).

After 10 minutes the dough should be smooth, elastic and slightly tacky (photo 3).

Tip the dough out onto a clean work surface (you don’t need any flour and extra flour should be avoided if possible). Shape the dough into a smooth ball by kneading it 2-3 times (photo 4).

Step by step photos showing how to prove dough and knead it

Place the dough in a clean bowl lightly greased with oil and cover with plastic wrap. Leave to prove for 2-3 hours or until tripled in size (photos 5 & 6).

Once the dough has risen, tip it out onto a clean work surface, knock out the air then knead it a few times back into a smooth ball (photo 7).

Flatten the dough with your hands then roll out  into a rectangle ½ inch (1.5cm) thick (photo 8 & 9).

Step by step photos showing how to cut out doughnut dough

Use a cookie cutter or glass to cut out round doughnuts about 3.5 inch in diameter. You can cut the scraps into random shapes for frying or re-knead them and roll out again to cut out more doughnuts (photo 10).

Place the cut out doughnuts on a surface lined with baking parchment and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Leave to prove for 1-1.5 hours or until doubled in size (photo 11).

While the doughnuts are proving, make the pastry cream and leave to cool (directions below).

Frying the doughnuts

When ready to fry heat a large deep pan or pot of oil until it reaches 170°C/337°F.

Cut the parchment paper into squares so that each doughnut is on an individual square of parchment (photo 12).

Top Tip: the parchment paper helps keep the doughnuts nice and round, you can easily knock air out if you handle them.

Step by step photos showing how to fry bomboloni doughnuts

Carefully drop the doughnuts into the oil and immediately remove the parchment paper with tongs (photo 13)

Fry the doughnuts for 2 minutes then turn over and fry for another 2 minutes on the other side (photo & 15).

Remove and drain on kitchen paper for around 2 minutes then roll the doughnuts in sugar. Leave to cool before filling (photo 16).

Step by step photos showing how to roll bomboloni in sugar and fill them

To fill the bomboloni insert a small knife into the side of a doughnut and move it around to make a small incision (photo 18).

Fill a piping bag with the pastry cream or desired filling and pipe it into the doughnuts (photo 19 & 20).

How to make the filling

Put the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest in a large bowl and whisk until well combined.

Add the cornstarch and whisk again until well combined.

Heat the milk in a saucepan until hot then turn off the heat and let it sit for 1 minute.

Step by step photos showing how to make Italian cream filling

Slowly pour in the milk into the egg mixture while constantly whisking so the eggs don’t scramble and there are no lumps. 

Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat on a low heat whilst constantly stirring until thick and creamy (about 10-15 minutes) the mixture needs to be very thick. Don’t be tempted to turn up the heat or the eggs will scramble.

Step by step photos showing how to make a custard filling for bomboloni

Once thick, turn of the heat and leave to cool before piping into the Bomboloni. For a more comprehensive guide on how to make the Crema Pasticcera check out our Italian Pastry Cream Recipe!

A close up of an Italian doughnut cut in half with a pastry cream filling

More filling options

There are so many filling options when it comes to bomboloni you don’t need to stick to pastry cream, here are some more delicious options:

  • Chocolate spread (If you’re like me and avoid palm oil I have a super easy recipe for making homemade Nutella).
  • Jam – strawberry, blackberry, raspberry or apricot just to name a few
  • Whipped cream – simple and delicious
  • Dulce de leche or a caramel cream

Top tips for making and frying Italian doughnuts

  • If you are using cups to measure the flour you must spoon the flour into the cup then lightly tap the cup until the flour has settled and levelled. This is important to achieve as accurate a weight as possible. A kitchen scale is recommended for accuracy.
  • If using a stand mixer keep it on a low-speed setting to avoid over kneading the dough (KitchenAid speed 2).
  • The oil should be around 3 inches deep for best results when frying.
  • Try not to overcrowd the pan when frying as the oil will cool down when you add more dough. Fry the doughnuts in batches to make it easier and safer to remove them too.
  • Drain the fried doughnuts on kitchen paper for about 2 minutes to allow them to drain properly then roll in sugar whilst still warm. If you don’t do this when the doughnuts are warm the sugar won’t stick.
  • Wait until the bomboloni are cooled before filling them.
Two doughnuts stacked on top of each other with one cut in half

Bomboloni making FAQs

Do I need to use a stand mixer to make doughnuts?

I use a Kitchen Aid stand mixer to knead the dough but you can totally do it by hand. If kneading by hand you’ll need to knead it for at least 10 minutes.
Mix everything in a bowl using a wooden spoon then once it comes together tip it onto a clean work surface very lightly dusted with flour and start to knead it.
It will start off sticky but don’t be tempted to add more flour as the gluten develops in the dough it turns smooth and elastic.

How do you achieve the white ring around a doughnut?

The white ring around a doughnut is due to the doughnut floating on top of the oil as it fries. If there is no white ring it’s because the dough has been too heavy and sinks further into the oil.
Make sure your dough is proved for long enough and there is the correct wet to dry ingredients ratio for a light dough.

What oil should I use for frying?

I prefer to use sunflower oil for frying because it’s very lightly flavoured and has a high burning point. Vegetable oil would also be a great choice but don’t use an oil that’s heavily flavoured or that has a low burning point such as olive oil.

What’s the best temperature for frying Bomboloni?

The ideal temperature for frying is 170°C / 338°F. Don’t go above 175°C/347°F or the doughnuts will brown on the outside before cooking right through. If your oil is too low it will result in oily and greasy doughnuts. I highly recommend using a thermometer so you don’t go wrong.

How long do Bomboloni last?

Bomboloni like most doughnuts are best eaten the same day as they are made. You can store unfilled doughnuts in an airtight container for 1-2 days but they will dry out. Filled doughnuts don’t dry out as quickly so will last a little longer, store them in the fridge in a dealed container for 1-3 days.

More Italian desserts you might like

If you tried this Bomboloni Recipe or any other recipes on my blog please be sure to leave me a comment below to let me know how you got on, I love hearing from you. You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I’m getting up to.

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5 from 2 votes

Bomboloni – Italian Doughnuts

Soft and light Italian Bomboloni Doughnuts rolled in sugar and filled with Italian pastry cream (crema pasticciera). These doughnuts are insanely delicious and make such a special treat!
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 3 hours
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 4 hours
Servings 10 -12 large doughnuts
Calories 424kcal
Author Emily Kemp

Ingredients

For the bomboloni dough

  • 2 cups strong bread flour (280g) see notes
  • 2 cups 00 flour or all purpose flour (280g) see notes
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 6.5 tbsp butter softened (90g)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (100g)
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk (120ml)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 tsp fast action yeast (7g)
  • 1 small pinch of salt
  • 2-3 tbsp caster sugar or confectioners sugar for rolling doughnuts in
  • sunflower or vegetable oil for frying

For the pastry cream (if using)

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2.5 cups milk (½ litre)
  • ¼ cup cornstarch (30g)
  • cup sugar (70g)
  • ½ tsp vanilla pasta or 1 vanilla bean
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Instructions

How to make the Bomboloni dough

  • Put the flour, sugar and yeast in the mixer bowl and stir to combine.
  • Scatter cubes of butter over the flour so it's evenly distributed then pour in the eggs and lukewarm milk, vanilla and salt.
  • Attach a dough hook attachment to the mixer then knead on a low speed for 10 minutes (on a KitchenAid mixer I use speed 2).
  • After 10 minutes the dough should be smooth, elastic and slightly tacky (see recipe notes 1 & 2 if using cups it's important).
  • Tip the dough out onto a clean work surface (you don't need any flour and extra flour should be avoided if possible). Shape the dough into a smooth ball by kneading it 2-3 times.
  • Place the dough in a clean bowl lightly greased with oil and cover with plastic wrap. Leave to prove for 2-3 hours or until tripled in size.
  • Once the dough has risen, tip it out onto a clean work surafce, knock out the air then knead it a few times back into a smooth ball.
  • Flatten the dough with your hands then roll out on into a rectangle ½ inch (1.5cm) thick.
  • Use a cookie cutter or glass to cut out round doughnuts about 3.5 inch in diameter. You can cut the scraps into random shapes for frying or re-knead them and roll out again to cut out more doughnuts.
  • Place the cut out doughnuts on a surface lined with baking parchment and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Leave to prove for 1-1.5 hours or until tripled in size.
  • While the doughnuts are proving, make the pastry cream and leave to cool (directions below).

Frying

  • When ready to fry heat a large deep pan or pot of oil until it reaches 170°C/337°F.
  • Cut the parchment paper into squares so that each doughnut is on an individual square of parchment.
  • Carefully drop the doughnuts into the oil and immediatley remove the parchment paper with tongs. It's best to fry the doughnuts in batches and not overcrowd the pan.
  • Fry the doughnuts for 2 minutes then turn over and fry for another 2 minutes on the other side.
  • Remove and drain on kitchen paper for a around 2 minutes then roll the doughnuts in sugar. Leave to cool before filling.

How to fill the doughnuts

  • To fill the bomboloni insert a small knife into the side of a doughnut and move it around to make a small incision.
  • Fill a piping bag with the pastry cream or desired filling and pipe it into the doughnuts.
  • Serve immediately for best results or store in plastic containers for 1-2 days.

To make Italian pastry cream (crema pasticciera)

  • Put the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest in a large bowl and whisk until well combined.
  • Add the cornstarch and whisk again until well combined.
  • Heat the milk in a saucepan until hot then turn off the heat and let it sit for 1 minute.
  • Slowly pour in the milk into the egg mixture while constantly whisking so the eggs don’t scramble and there are no lumps.
  • Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat on a low heat whilst constantly stirring until thick and creamy (about 10-15 minutes) the mixture needs to be very thick. Don’t be tempted to turn up the heat or the eggs will scramble.
  • Once thick, turn of the heat and pour into a clean bowl. Place plastic wrap directly over the pastry cream so a skin doesn't form and leave to cool.

Notes

  1. If you are using cups to measure the flour you must spoon the flour into the cup then lightly tap the cup until the flour has settled and leveled. This is important to achieve as accurate a weight as possible. A kitchen scale is recommended for accuracy.
  2. Texture of dough if using cups: there can be around 20-30g difference when measuring flour with cups. The dough should be tacky to touch and shouldn’t be wet or stick to your hands. If you find the dough is wet and sticky add 1 tbsp of flour at a time allowing it to absorb into the dough until the dough is at the right consistency.
  3. The parchment paper helps keep the doughnuts nice and round, you can easily knock air out if you handle them.
  4. If using a stand mixer keep it on a low-speed setting to avoid over kneading the dough (KitchenAid speed 2).
  5. The oil should be around 3 inches deep for best results when frying.
  6. Try not to overcrowd the pan when frying as the oil will cool down when you add more dough. Fry the doughnuts in batches to make it easier and safer to remove them too.
  7. Drain the fried doughnuts on kitchen paper for about 2 minutes to allow them to drain properly then roll in sugar whilst still warm. If you don’t do this when the doughnuts are warm the sugar won’t stick.
  8. Wait until the bomboloni are cooled before filling them.

Nutrition

Calories: 424kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 181mg | Sodium: 125mg | Potassium: 187mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 560IU | Calcium: 112mg | Iron: 2mg
Helpful Info for All Recipes
  • I always use extra virgin olive oil in all of my recipes unless stated otherwise
  • When I use canned or jarred tomatoes of any kind I always use this brand for the best results and flavour
  • All vegetables are medium sized unless stated otherwise
  • All recipes are tested and developed using a fan (convection) oven
  • Find out more about how nutrition is calculated here
  • Check out our must have Italian Pantry Staples here
  • You can also find all our Essential Kitchen Tools for Italian Cooking here
Did you try this recipe?Mention @insidetherustickitchen or tag #insidetherustickitchen! We’d love you see what you’re getting up to in the kitchen!

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Mega
    October 6, 2020 at 5:36 pm

    Hi, how many grams total for the egg ? Cause 120ml for 560grm flour is a bit dry 😊
    Thankyou5 stars

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      October 12, 2020 at 9:09 am

      I didn’t weigh the eggs just make sure they are large this recipe has been tested over and over many times it definitely works!

  • Reply
    Margaret Longman
    July 6, 2020 at 8:45 am

    Hi, I’m wondering what or which other flour to use when you say all purpose flour, is it plain or self-raising?
    Soon as I know which other flour to use I’ll be straight onto making these, they look so delicious ! I’ll be in touch with my results once I’ve made them.
    Thank you
    Maggie x

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      July 6, 2020 at 11:46 am

      Hi Margaret, all-purpose flour is the same as plain flour. I strongly recommend using half plain flour and half strong bread flour (white) it really makes a difference and makes the doughnuts extra light. I hope you enjoy them, be sure to let me know how it goes!

  • Reply
    Angela
    May 23, 2020 at 9:06 am

    Oh wow! How glorious do these look!I can almost smell them! The crema must be delicious with limoncello too! I must try to make these ASAP! What a treat, thanks!5 stars

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      May 23, 2020 at 11:11 am

      Aw thank you so much, they are absolutely delicious with a little added limoncello! Hope you enjoy them 🙂

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