Italian Cream-Filled Donuts

Italian Cream-Filled Donuts, known in Italy as “Bomboloni alla Crema,” are a sumptuous treat that embodies the sweet essence of Italian pastry tradition. These donuts are not your ordinary, everyday breakfast fare but rather a luxurious indulgence, typically enjoyed as a mid-morning snack or an after-dinner dessert. The dough for bomboloni is rich and tender, made with a yeasted base that includes eggs, sugar, butter, and sometimes a touch of citrus zest to add depth and fragrance. The dough is kneaded to a silky perfection, allowed to rise until it’s beautifully puffed, and then shaped into plump rounds that hint at the decadence to come.

After frying to a golden brown, each donut achieves a perfect balance of a crispy exterior with a soft, airy interior. But it’s the filling that truly sets them apart. The crema pasticcera, an Italian pastry cream, is the heart of this confection. This cream is luxuriously smooth, rich with the flavors of vanilla and infused with the warmth of egg yolks and the sweetness of sugar. It’s thick enough to hold its shape when bitten into but tender enough to melt in your mouth, creating a delightful contrast to the dough’s slight chewiness.

The process of filling the donuts is meticulous, ensuring each one is generously stuffed without compromising the integrity of the dough. The exterior of the bomboloni is often dusted with fine sugar, adding a delicate crunch and a shimmer that makes them irresistibly inviting.

Serving Italian Cream-Filled Donuts is an art in itself. They are best enjoyed fresh, with the cream cool and the dough slightly warm, allowing the flavors and textures to meld together perfectly. In Italy, bomboloni are often found in cafes and pastry shops, displayed enticingly in window cases, tempting passersby with their promise of a sweet escape. Whether accompanied by a morning cappuccino or savored as a standalone treat, these donuts offer a bite of Italian dolce vita, combining the simplicity of fried dough with the sophistication of creamy filling to create a pastry that is both comforting and indulgent.

Here’s a comprehensive guide to making these exquisite treats from start to finish:

Donut Ingredients:

  • 1 medium-sized egg to bind the ingredients together and add richness.
  • 50g butter, melted and cooled, to contribute to the dough’s tender texture.
  • 200g milk, lukewarm, to activate the yeast and moisten the dough.
  • 80g sugar to sweeten the dough lightly.
  • 500g flour, preferably high-protein content for structure and softness.
  • 8g dry baker’s yeast (or 12g fresh yeast) to leaven the dough, making it light and airy.
  • A pinch of salt to enhance the flavors of the other ingredients.

For the Italian Diplomatic Cream:

  • 300g pastry cream, a rich, custard-like cream infused with vanilla for a luxurious filling.
  • 200g liquid cream, whipped to stiff peaks, to add lightness and volume.
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar to sweeten the cream mixture gently.

For the Coating:

  • Sugar, for rolling the fried donuts to add a sweet, crystalline texture.


  1. Dough Making:
    • Start by activating the yeast: mix the yeast with lukewarm milk and a teaspoon of sugar. Let it sit until frothy.
    • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, the remaining sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center, adding the egg, melted butter, and yeast mixture. Stir to combine, then knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. This may take about 10 minutes by hand or with a mixer.
    • Place the dough in a greased bowl, covering it loosely with plastic wrap or a damp cloth. Let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.
  2. Preparing Italian Diplomatic Cream:
    • While the dough is rising, prepare the pastry cream if you haven’t already. Once made, allow it to cool completely.
    • Whip the liquid cream with the icing sugar until it holds stiff peaks. Gently fold this whipped cream into the cooled pastry cream to create a light, airy Italian Diplomatic Cream. Refrigerate until needed.
  3. Forming and Frying the Donuts:
    • After the dough has risen, punch it down gently and turn it out onto a floured surface. Roll it to about 1/2 inch thickness.
    • Using a round cutter, cut out circles from the dough. Let these rounds rise again on a floured tray, covered, until puffy, about 30 minutes.
    • Heat oil in a deep fryer or a large, deep pan to 350°F (175°C). Fry the donuts in batches, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Drain them on paper towels.
  4. Filling the Donuts:
    • Once cooled, use a piping bag fitted with a long nozzle to inject each donut with the Italian Diplomatic Cream. Be generous with the filling, ensuring each donut is plump with cream.
  5. Finishing Touches:
    • Roll each filled donut in sugar to coat it evenly. This not only adds sweetness but also gives a delightful crunch to the soft, creamy texture inside.

Serve these Italian Cream-Filled Donuts fresh and enjoy the delicate balance of airy dough, rich cream, and sweet sugar coating. They’re perfect as a decadent breakfast treat, a luxurious dessert, or a delightful snack at any time of the day.

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