What’s better than a soft, puffy Donut? A cream filled donut! Bavarian Cream Donuts are a classic for a reason. Fried dough rolled in sugar and filled with custard (Pastry Cream + whipped cream), they are a totally irresistible and decadent treat. I will show you exactly how to make them step by step!
Table of Contents
- Bavarian Cream Donuts
- What is a Bavarian cream donut?
- Bavarian cream donut ingredients
- How to make Bavarian cream donuts
- More filling ideas
- What to serve with cream filled donuts
- Do Bavarian cream donuts need to be refrigerated?
- Can you freeze cream filled donuts?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- More pastry goodness you’ll love!
- Bavarian Cream Donuts Recipe
Sometimes companies will mail me fancy food packages that are kept fresh with those reusable cold pack things. I always toss them in my freezer for when we are heading to the lake or going camping with a cooler. They are super handy to have around!
We used one just last Sunday for our picnic after church. Twice a year my church has a regional conference, a two hour meeting that is always great and uplifting, but also a long time for the kids to sit still. It’s tradition to pack a picnic and let the kids run around on the huge wooded lawn on the temple grounds afterward.
We spent half the day there, just hanging out in this amazing September sunshine we are having. And FINALLY crossed off the last item on our summer bucket list, “have a picnic.”
When we got home, Eric and I emptied out the cooler, and the reusable cold pack got left in the sink. A couple hours later I was rinsing it off and drying it, ready to toss it back in the freezer for next time, when I noticed that it was a bit…mushy. And then I started reading the fine print on the package. “Heating instructions: Poke holes with fork and microwave…”
Heating instructions? For a cold pack??
And that was when I realized we’ve been icing our cooler with a bag of frozen cauliflower rice. And here’s the kicker, I KNOW I’ve used this pack before. This poor cauliflower has been on several outings with us apparently. They looked exactly the same! How was I supposed to know!
I’m just gonna put this out there, it’s probably Edison’s fault. I bet he swapped them when I wasn’t looking. He is in this stage right now where his entire life purpose is to put a stick in our wheels, I swear. He watches every single move we make and does exactly the thing that will mess us up.
Soccer uniform finally came in the mail? He shoves it in a corner of the garage where we would never think to look. I was making several batches of bread the other day and rinsed off my dough hook to use again, set it right by the mixer where I would need it. He hid it in the bathroom. The other day he even stole my darn toothbrush right before bedtime, and stashed it in his closet.
If you ever think of me lately, just know that I am dropped to my knees, clutching my hair and shouting toward the sky, “EDISONNNNN!!!!!!!” Foiled again!” While he rubs his hands together malevolently in the background.
Oy vey. I may not be able to differentiate between ice packs and cauliflower, and I might not be able to out-sleuth my own 3-year-old, but at least I can whip up a MEAN Cream Filled Donut to make me feel better! This really is something, right??
Bavarian Cream Donuts
Today’s post is a part of a 3-post series: I’m showing you how to make Glazed Donuts, how to make Pastry Cream to fill them, and here I’m sharing the Cream filled recipe to put it all together! Don’t even ask how many donuts we’ve all eaten at this point. IT’S A LOT 😂
What is a Bavarian cream donut?
Think of the lightest, fluffiest donut, roll it in obscene amounts of sugar and THEN fill it with the dreamiest creamiest Bavarian Cream. It’s like a donut’s version of getting all gussied up and going to prom.
Bavarian cream donut is the basic term for any cream or custard filled donut. In the United States especially, the filling can differ, but most shops will still call it either a Bavarian Cream donut or simply a cream filled donut. Usually they are round, sometimes they are rectangular, but always have a creamy vanilla flavored custard piped into the center.
Traditionally, Bavarian cream is a pastry cream specifically made with gelatin, but my recipe skips the gelatin and uses egg yolks and cornstarch to thicken. I never have gelatin in my pantry, do you?? My filling is made by taking Pastry Cream and folding it with whipped cream, I’ll show you just how to do it. It’s basically a thickened Vanilla Pudding. It’s really hard not to just eat it with a spoon!
Bavarian cream donut ingredients
No fancy ingredients required! Even the Pastry Cream uses stuff you have on hand. Full ingredient list and instructions are down below in the recipe card!
How to make Bavarian cream donuts
First you need to whip up your Pastry Cream and get it chilling in the fridge! Head over to my Pastry Cream recipe for all the details.
Next put together the yeast dough. I have more pictures of this process on my Homemade Donuts recipe! Check out the how-to section of that post for all the details. The donut part of the recipe is exactly the same.
Here is the dough once it’s been kneaded together for 5 minutes. Nice and soft and stretchy! Smell it, I have dreams of this smell.
Now slap it in a bowl you’ve coated with oil, and flip it over to make sure it’s oiled top and bottom.
One of the special methods that professionals use to make donuts is using a proofing box. They have these huge boxes, kind of like an oven, where the temperature and humidity are controlled.
We are going to fake a proofing box in our oven! It’s so easy. Creating this humid, warm environment helps our donuts get puff puff puffy. I use the same method for my Cinnamon Rolls!
Turn your oven on for about a minute until it’s warm inside, but not hot. You should still be able to touch the oven racks without wanting to pull your finger away.
Then boil a kettle of water and pour it into a pan sitting just below your dough. The steam will rise up and make your yeasty dough puff and puff! You can see the oven is ON in this photo, I was still heating it up a bit, but I turned it off right after. You can also see in this photo that I have very low oven cleanliness standards. Try not to hate me. That’s my pizza stone in there, it helps regulate my oven temperature when I’m actually baking. (My oven is a piece of actual garbage and needs to be replaced 😂) You want a temp of around 100-130 degrees F.
And after an hour it will look like this:
Now it’s time to roll out this beauty.
You want to roll it out to about 12 inches, or less. Make sure the dough is about 1/2 inch thick.
Make sure your dough is not too thin. You want nice thick donuts, like this.
Turn your oven into a proofing box again! Try to fit all your pans of donuts on the racks, then you can see that I have the 9×13 pan directly on the bottom of my oven. Only do this AFTER you have turned the oven on and off!
Heat up a whole ton of oil over medium heat. At least 2 inches deep. You need LOTS of oil for deep frying, otherwise you will end up with half burned doughy-in-the-center doughnuts.
A steady temperature is the secret to frying donuts successfully. You want a temp of about 350. When you add your first batch, the temperature will drop, so it’s best to wait a minute in between batches. Just keep an eye on it and keep gauging with the thermometer.
Get everything set up and ready to go! I call this my “fry station”: Hot oil, thermometer, spider strainer or tongs, wire cooling rack set on top of paper grocery bags (or paper towels), shallow bowl full of sugar, and the risen donuts nearby.
(My daughter Charlotte helped me fry the donuts. These bracelets were from a summer camp she went to this year, she’s kept them on forever!)
Here’s what all the fuss was about with the squares of parchment paper. We are picking up the donuts and setting them directly in the oil, paper and all. I have ruined one too many risen donuts by puncturing it with the spatula trying to get it in the oil, and I’m so over it. I saw this tip somewhere (I can’t remember where!) and it’s been life changing for frying any yeast dough. I’m never going back ever ever.
Hang onto one corner of the paper, let the donut fully submerge, and shimmy the paper back and forth until the donut loosens from the paper. Then remove the paper right away and set aside.
If the donut pops up out of the oil a whole bunch when you flip it, sometimes it’s helpful to hold it down in the oil to make sure the middle part gets browned properly.
Let the donuts cool on the wire rack for a minute, not too long, but you don’t want to burn your fingers. After 60-90 seconds, toss the donut in the sugar, coating it really well. (Add a couple tablespoon cinnamon to your sugar for a fun twist!
Now it’s time to make the filling! Beat some heavy cream until stiff peaks form, add in a couple tablespoons of powdered sugar if you like it sweet like me.
Then add the Pastry Cream that you’ve had chilling in the fridge! Give the pastry cream a good whisk to smooth it out, then fold it into the cream using a rubber spatula, using as few strokes as possible to incorporate it. We want to keep it fluffy.
My best tip for getting filling into a piping bag is to use an empty glass to hold up the bag. So much easier! You can use a piping bag or even just a ziplock with the end snipped off. You don’t really need a tip for filling donuts, just the bag is fine.
Use a toothpick, paring knife, or chopstick to poke a whole in the side of your donut. Twist it around a bit to make room.
Then push the end of the piping bag inside the donut and fill ‘er up! Your donut will plump up and look so good!
If you are serving a bunch of these at once its handy (and pretty) to line them up on their sides like this. I like to put them in a pretty casserole dish with the filling pointing up.
And that’s IT! Remember, only fill the ones that you are planning to eat right away. These do not store well! Invite all your friends over, they will love you!
More filling ideas
Here’s what you could pipe into your donuts instead of Pastry cream. The options are ENDLESS:
- LEMON CURD. omg I’m telling you guys, I had a donut filled with fresh lemon curd once on vacation in Australia forever ago, and forgot about it until this moment. It was so good, you have to try it.
- Nutella. I mean, do I need to explain further? I guess I do, because I actually have an entire post dedicated to Nutella Stuffed Donuts. Please read my story about Kirby the vacuum man and die with me, haha! Good times. 😂 Ooh, here’s an idea, you could even mix your nutella with the whipped cream called for in this recipe for something lighter.
- Jelly or Jam. I mean, this is a classic right? See above about folding with whipped cream. Yum.
- Any flavor of homemade or even instant pudding would be so good.
What to serve with cream filled donuts
I like to serve my donuts with more donuts. Ha! It’s like pizza. Do you really need that side? I’m just sayin. But here are some ideas if you have a big crowd.
- What even is a donut without milk, tea or coffee? Start there for sure!
- Baked Bacon >> Ready in about 10 or 15 minutes, SO much easier than frying on the stove.
- My Best Quiche Recipe >> This one is no joke. You will never go back.
- Make Ahead Scrambled Eggs >> so creamy and tender and easy to have waiting while you finish the donuts
- Cheesy Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole with Ham >> fun fact, this is the most visited recipe on my site!
- Chili Rellenos Casserole >> this one is so easy
- Cheesy Ham and Broccoli Frittata >>easy to make, super fast, and full of cheesy deliciousness
- Classic Fruit Salad from Downshiftology
Do Bavarian cream donuts need to be refrigerated?
The best option is to only fill as many donuts as you think you’ll eat that day. Then, store the leftover cream separately in the fridge and the donuts in a loosely closed paper bag on the counter. You can then fill any extra donuts as needed.
If you’ve already filled your donuts and have some leftover, eat just one more. Stuff it in. I’m sorry, you didn’t come to me for diet advice. The next option is to call all the neighbors over for a donut party! You will be solving all of America’s loneliness problems! Pat yourself on the back!
But, if you really have no alternative, you can refrigerate them in an air-tight container for about 3-4 days. Just know that the quality of the donut will deteriorate significantly with each passing day.
Can you freeze cream filled donuts?
Heck to the no, don’t try this at home (or anywhere, ha). The cream filling will separate, and the donut itself will get soggy as it thaws with the filling in it. Plan to fill only the donuts you’ll eat that day! You can freeze the extra unfilled donuts:
Flash freeze them on a sheet pan for 20-30 minutes, then put them in a large freezer ziplock bag with wax or parchment paper between them so they don’t stick. They’ll last in the freezer for about 2-3 months.
Thaw on the counter overnight, then warm in a 300 degree oven for 5-10 minutes. You’ll need to make the cream filling fresh. When frozen and thawed, it will separate on you and be a watery mess. Anything made with cornstarch isn’t going to do great in the freezer, the excess water from thawing ruins any binding action. Luckily, pastry cream is a cinch to throw together and will help the frozen donuts taste just that much fresher once they’re all filled.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s a simple yeast donut that is filled with a delicious Crème Légère, or Bavarian cream. They can be round or rectangular in shape, and are usually rolled in sugar.
Yes, the filling in a Bavarian cream donut is a creamy vanilla custard, folded with whipped cream to make it light and fluffy. The mixture of Pastry Cream with whipped Cream is a mixture the French call Crème Légère. (“you’re what the french call les incompetents.” name that movie!!)
Basically it’s a sugar rolled donut with a delicious vanilla flavored cream piped into it. Think of the best simple donut and the creamiest vanilla pudding fluff, and put them together. A match made in heaven!
The two are very closely related. The donut structure is essentially the same, and even the cream filling, if you ask most Americans, is interchangeable. The real difference comes down to the topping on the donut. A Bavarian cream donut is rolled in sugar, whereas the Boston Cream has a chocolate glaze added to the top.
More pastry goodness you’ll love!
- The Best Homemade Donut Recipe >> Sometimes you just need a perfect glazed donut. Or two. Or three.
- Maple Donut Recipe (Maple Bars) >> one of my FAVORITE donuts ever
- Nutella Stuffed Donuts >> soft, puffy donuts filled with Nutella? Yes, please
- 4 Ingredient Apple Cider Doughnuts >> too easy, and perfect for fall
- 30-Minute Maple Bars >> The shortcut version of my favorite donut
- Best Cinnamon Roll Recipe >> so fluffy, and you can make them overnight!
- Soft Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns Recipe >> such a decadent recipe that tastes like it’s from a bakery
- One Hour Almond Rolls >> Kinda like cinnamon rolls, but with the most amazing honey-caramel sauce
- Maple Butter Twist Coffee Cake >>maple-brown sugary goodness all wrapped up in a buttery bread
- Homemade Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts from Sally’s Baking Addiction
- Danish Pastries from Brown Eyed Baker
Bavarian Cream Donuts
- nonstick spray
- 2 & 1/2 inch biscuit cutter
- piping bag
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 tablespoons active dry yeast*
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup shortening
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 and 1/4 cups bread flour, plus 1/4 cup if necessary
- 2 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or 2 teaspoons table salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
For frying and sugaring
- 12 cups canola oil, or peanut oil
- 3 cups granulated sugar, for rolling donuts in
For the filling
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 batch Pastry cream, click for the recipe (you need 2 hours to chill)
- Make the Pastry Cream. Click for the recipe! It has to be completely chilled, so make this first and stick it in the fridge.
- Make the dough. In a glass measuring cup, add 1 cup whole milk. Microwave it until it is warm but not hot. Stick your finger in it to make sure. If you wouldn't give a baby a bath in this milk, it's too hot. (I don't know why I can never think of a better temperature gauge than bathing children, but there you go.) Temp should be around 105-110 F.
- Add 3 tablespoons active dry yeast*. Yes! 3 tablespoons! We are not messing around! Add 1 tablespoon sugar so the yeast has something to eat.
- Wait a couple minutes until you see bubbles forming in your yeast mixture. (If it stays completely flat, you killed it, game over! Try again.)
- Add yeast mixture to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup shortening, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla. Stir it all together with a rubber spatula.
- Carefully measure 3 and 1/4 cups bread flour (spoon the flour into the measuring cup, then level off the top.) Add the flour to your yeast mixture but don't stir yet.
- Add 2 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Stir this into the flour.
- Knead the dough. Use the dough hook (or a wooden spoon) to stir the dough until it is thick enough to knead. Knead with the dough hook (or by hand on a lightly floured surface) for 5 full minutes. The dough should have come together and be stretchy and elastic. If you touch the dough and your fingers come away sticky, add the extra 1/4 cup of flour (or more as necessary), to get a workable dough.
- Grease a large bowl with oil or nonstick spray. Shape the dough into a ball, slap it in the bowl, and turn it over so the top side is greased. Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed generously with nonstick spray.
- Create a proofing box in your oven: Bring about 8-10 cups of water to a boil, either in a kettle or in a pot on the stove. Turn your oven on to 350 degrees F for about 30-60 seconds, then turn it off. The oven should be warm but not hot. You should be able to touch the oven racks with your fingers.
- Place the covered bowl of dough on the top rack in your oven. Place a 9×13 inch cake pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Pour the boiling water into the pan and shut the door right away to capture all the steam.
- Let the dough rise in this toasty, humid environment for 1 hour. The dough should be doubled in size. Remove from the oven.
- Prepare three half baking sheets with parchment paper. I love to use these 6×6 inch parchment paper squares (one rising donut per square.) If you don't have the fancy squares, I would take the time to cut 6×6 inch squares. Lay them out on the baking sheets.
- Shape the donuts. Scrape the risen dough onto a greased pastry mat or lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough a couple times, then roll the dough into a circle that is about a half inch thick, about 12×12 inches. Don't roll it too thin, we want nice puffy thick donuts.
- Use a 2 and 1/2 inch biscuit cutter to cut the donuts into rounds. Do not twist the cutter when you press down, this seals the edges and prevents them from rising. Push straight down. Place each shaped donut on its own parchment square. Don't crowd the pan, make sure the donuts have room to double in size. Do not cover.
- Let rise in the "proofing box" for the second time. Heat your oven to 350 for 30-60 seconds, just like before, and turn it off. Warm, not hot. Heat water (the same water from before is fine) and add to the 9×13 inch pan.
- Place the pans of rising donuts in your oven, both pans on the top rack if you can squeeze them in. Place the 9×13 pan on the bottom rack. (If you can't squeeze, place one pan on each rack and place the 9×13 pan on the bottom of the oven, yes, directly on the element, but ONLY after you have shut off the oven. Make sure it's not hot to the touch. Do not turn the oven on with a pan on the element!)
- Once all the shaped donuts are in the warm oven, pour the boiling water into the 9×13 inch pan. Shut the door right away. Let the shaped donuts rise for 30-45 minutes total, until doubled in size. You need to keep an eye on them so they don't rise too much and fall.
- Heat the oil. Halfway through the rise time, start heating your oil. In a 12-inch high-sided skillet, add canola oil until it reaches about 2 inches up the side of the pan. Turn the heat to medium. Heat until the temperature reads 350 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Don't throw away the oil container.
- Prep your work station. Line a few paper grocery bags (or paper towels) on the counter and place 2 cooling racks on top. Have a pair of tongs handy. Keep your thermometer either clipped onto the side of the pan or nearby to recheck the temperature.
- Fry the donuts. When the doughnuts are doubled in size, remove the pans from the oven. Use two hands to lift the edges of a piece of parchment paper with one raised donut on it. Slowly lower the paper into the oil, dropping one side completely, and holding the paper up on the other side. The paper and the donut should be completely in the oil, except the corner you are holding with your fingers. Shimmy the paper back and forth until the donut slides off into the oil.
- Let the donut fry on the first side for about 30-60 seconds, until light brown. Use tongs or chopsticks to flip the donut and continue frying for another 30-60 seconds until light brown. (The donuts will continue to darken in color even after cooking.)
- Use a spider strainer (or slotted spoon or tongs) to gently lift the fried donut to the cooling rack that is set on top of the absorbent paper.
- Take the time to check the temperature of the oil before frying more. You might need to wait a couple minutes for the oil to climb back up to 350. Keeping the oil temperature steady is one of the reasons you need to use so much oil when deep frying.
- Continue frying the donuts, adding 3-4 donuts per batch, whatever you can fit. Check the temperature frequently and make sure it's at 350.
- When the donuts are all fried, turn off the heat and set the oil aside to cool.
- Sugar the donuts. In between frying, when the donuts are still pretty hot (but not so much that you burn your fingers), roll each one in granulated sugar. Coat it really well! Dump that sugar on!
- Let the sugared donuts cool completely on wire cooling racks.
- Make the filling. In a large bowl, beat 3/4 cup cream with 2 tablespoons powdered sugar for 2-4 minutes until stiff peaks form. This is whipped cream! It's so easy. Get your Pastry Cream out of the fridge and give it a good strong whisk. Add it to the whipped cream and use a rubber spatula to fold it in until combined.
- Fill the donuts. Use a piping bag, or a gallon ziplock with the end snipped off. Place in an empty drinking glass to keep it steady, and spoon the filling in.
- Once the donuts have cooled, use a paring knife, chopsticks, or even just a couple toothpicks to poke a hole in the side of a donut. Twist it around a bit to make room on the inside for the pastry cream.
- Place the end of the piping bag inside the donut and fill to the brim.
- Only fill the donuts with pastry cream that you know you will be eating that same day. Filled donuts don't last well overnight! They just get soggy.
- How to store unfilled donuts: You can store them in an airtight container or in a loosely closed paper bag. The paper bag is the best option as it will absorb some of the oil on the bottom, keeping the donut from getting too soggy (from sitting in its own wept oil.)How to store leftover pastry cream: Place in the fridge with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the custard, to avoid creating a film. If you have some leftover in your piping bag, toss the whole thing in the fridge no prob.
- What to do with the leftover oil: Hopefully you saved your oil container! If not, use mason jars. Place your container in the sink. Holler at your people for some help. Place a funnel on top of the container. Hold a strainer over the top of the funnel to catch any dough bits. Pour it in. Save it! Store in the cupboard. I use oil 2-3 times before funneling it back in the container a final time and tossing it in the trash.