These vegan Boston cream donuts are surprisingly easy to make! Made with delicious vanilla custard and topped with a mirror chocolate glaze.
🍩 Boston Cream Donuts
Fluffy yeast donuts? Check. Silky vanilla custard filling? Check. Chocolate? Check.
Boston cream donut simply has it all!
This is my favorite type of donut and making it vegan is surprisingly easy with a few substitutions.
It's a long recipe but comes together very easily once you get started on it! You can also make the pastry cream and the yeasted dough a day ahead to break up the work.
- All-Purpose Flour: I used King Arthur's unbleached AP flour that has 11.7% protein content. No sifting necessary. You may also use bread flour which is higher in protein and therefore provides more elasticity to the dough to trap more air pockets and make the donuts even softer.
- Instant Yeast: Feel free to use active dry yeast as well. In either case, make sure to bloom the yeast first with lukewarm water and a bit of sugar to test whether it's still alive.
- Aquafaba: Replacing eggs has never been easier! This diluted "chickpea broth" has dissolved starch and saponins which will slow the collapse of foam and provide stabilization.
- Cornstarch: Aquafaba isn't a great binding agent on its own so we need to add another source of starch.
- Sugar: We'll use granulated sugar. For a 100% vegan donut, pay attention to the kind of sugar you're using. Many refined sugars are processed with bone char to take on a bright white color. In the U.S., the sugar will definitely be vegan if it's organic, “unrefined”, or made from beets.
- Salt: The recipe is written for regular table salt. Double the volume if using Kosher (same weight).
- Non-dairy milk: I use soy milk where the only ingredients are soybean and water. Any unflavored, unsweetened plant milk should work. Just be mindful of options with strong aromas such as coconut milk as they may impart some flavor.
- Vegan Butter: Room temperature butter added towards the end of kneading will somewhat soften the gluten structure for a more fluffy and shiny dough. I used Earth Balance salted sticks.
- Frying Oil: Using an oil with a high smoke point is essential. I used vegetable oil. Safflower, peanut, soybean, sunflower, or canola oils will work as well.
Out of all the Boston cream donuts I've had throughout the years, the custard has always been somewhat lackluster. Not this time! This vanilla pastry cream is extremely flavorful.
Best news? You can make it in the microwave in less than 10 minutes!
- Sugar: For 100% vegan pastry cream, pay attention to the kind of sugar you're using. Many refined sugars are processed with bone char to take on a bright white color. In the U.S., the sugar will definitely be vegan if it's organic, “unrefined”, or made from beets.
- Cornstarch: We're using just enough cornstarch for the custard to set while still being creamy.
- Nutritional Yeast: Yes, this sounds weird. But trust me, its flavor really makes up for the lack of eggs. I promise you won't taste it in the custard at all.
- Vegan Butter: My favorite butter plant-based butter for baking projects is Earth Balance. If using unsalted, make sure to add another pinch of salt.
- Vanilla Extract: We need vanilla for its flavor. You may also use a scraped vanilla bean or vanilla bean paste instead.
- Plant Milk: I like to use unsweetened, unflavored soy or cashew milk in most baking projects. They are creamy without imparting too much flavor (looking at you, coconut). If using sweetened milk, make sure to adjust the amount of sugar.
- (optional) Ground Turmeric: This is only to color the custard a bit yellow/orange. Be careful not to go overboard because turmeric has a really strong flavor! Alternatively, you may use a vegan food dye.
Chocolate Mirror Glaze
- Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips: I used 46% Guittard chips. You may use any type you like the most. If using extra dark chocolate chips, I'd suggest adding some powdered sugar to make up for the bitterness.
- Vegan Butter: This is what makes the chocolate glaze rich and shiny without having to temper chocolate.
- Plant Milk: I used soy milk, but any "fatty" milk (think cashew or coconut) will do.
🥣 How to Make Doughnuts
You can make the pastry cream a few days ahead, or during the second proof if you'd like to use it immediately.
Make the Egg Replacer:
- Mix the aquafaba with cornstarch and set aside.
Bloom the Yeast:
- Mix the yeast with lukewarm water and 1 teaspoon of sugar; set aside until frothy.
Knead and First Proof:
- Place all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt) into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour in the aquafaba & cornstarch mixture, soymilk, and yeast mixture.
- Mix with a wooden spoon until the dough somewhat comes together. If you want an easier time kneading, let this coarse mixture rest for 30 minutes to autolyze.
- Knead for 10 minutes by hand until smooth, or 5 minutes with dough hook with a stand mixer. Add the softened vegan butter and knead for another 2 minutes to combine.
- Tear a piece of the dough and check if it passes the windowpane test. When the dough is stretched, you should be able to see light through it without the dough tearing. Otherwise, keep kneading to form more gluten bonds.
- Cover with cling wrap and set aside until doubled in size.
- This step is optional, but I'd highly recommend gently deflating, reshaping, then refrigerating the dough overnight after the first proof. Chilling the dough overnight develops more flavor and makes it a lot easier to work with the next day.
Roll and Cut:
- Lightly flour a working surface and place the dough. Gently knead, tap with a rolling pin, and divide into halves. Cover the piece you’re not using with cling wrap.
- Roll out the dough to ½” thickness and cut with a 3-inch, sharp doughnut or biscuit cutter. Make faint indentations with the cutter first to maximize the number of donuts.
- Re-roll the leftover dough, let rest for at least 30 minutes, and repeat—only once.
- If making filled donuts without a hole, you may also divide the dough into equal portions and roll them into smooth balls instead of cutting them.
Second Proof and Dry:
- Place each donut onto an individual small piece of parchment paper (4-in by 4-in) and place them onto baking sheets. Put the trays in an oven (that's off) and place a bowl of boiled water next to them. Close the oven door. The steam will prevent skin from forming on the donuts. Alternatively, you can cover the cut donuts with cling wrap.
- Repeat the cutting and proofing processes for the remaining piece of dough.
- Let the cut donuts rise for 15 minutes to an hour, depending on your kitchen's climate. Gently poke a cut piece of dough with your index finger and observe. If the indentation stays, your dough is properly proofed and ready to be fried. If the indentation immediately returns to the surface and disappears, you'll need to proof for longer.
- When the pieces are properly proofed, take them out of the oven (or remove cling wrap) to dry off the skin for a few minutes.
- Start heating the frying oil as soon as the first batch of dough is cut to minimize the chances of overproofing. Pour vegetable oil into a heavy-bottomed pan at least 2-3 inches high and checking with a thermometer, heat to 375ºF.
- Test with a donut hole—they should turn golden brown in 30-45 seconds on each side. Make sure to start frying the batch you started proofing first.
- Place 2 or 3 donuts into the frying pan at a time along with the parchment paper. Remove the parchment paper after a few seconds with tongs.
- Let the underside take on a golden brown color (about 45-60 seconds) then turn and fry the second side. Be conservative with the color: when the frying oil drains off the donut, it will seem darker. Chopsticks or a Danish dough whisk are very helpful when turning the donuts.
- Remove fried donuts with a steel mesh spider and transfer them onto paper towels. Let the donuts cool on a wire rack before glazing.
Fill the Donuts:
- Once the donuts are cool enough to handle, poke a hole in the side using a chopstick. Move the chopstick around inside to make sure there's enough space for the filling.
- Pour your pastry cream into a piping bag and fill the donuts.
Make the Glaze:
- In a small, shallow, and microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter and the plant milk then microwave on medium for about 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir in chocolate until melted and smooth.
- If some of the chocolate is still solid after stirring, continue to microwave at 15-second intervals, until the glaze is completely smooth.
- Using a microwave is the quickest method to make this chocolate glaze. But if you don't own one, use a double boiler (bain-marie) to melt all the ingredients together.
- This glaze needs to be used immediately, as it will harden. You can microwave it at 15-second increments again to smoothen it. I like to make it right after filling the donuts.
Glaze & Dig In:
- Dip the filled donuts into the bowl to glaze them. If running out of chocolate glaze for the last few donuts, drizzle the glaze over the donuts instead. Enjoy!
- These donuts are best enjoyed on the very same day you make them. To eat on the next day, make sure to fill & glaze right after cooling and keep it at room temperature in an airtight container. You may also freeze fried donuts individually and thaw, fill, and glaze them when ready to eat.
- The most important thing to remember is to use a scale! With as many ingredients and a yeasted dough, this is the only way to make sure you're following the recipe.
- Times for kneading and proofing are estimates. Go for the windowpane and poke tests to judge the next steps.
- For more vegan donut details and troubleshooting suggestions, check out this glazed yeast donut post.
The Boston cream donut is a round, solid, yeast-risen doughnut with a custard filling and chocolate glaze. It resembles a miniature Boston cream pie!
Traditional Boston cream pie or donut filling is a custard cream, often containing egg yolks and cream. Nowadays, most Boston cream donut custard is made with cornstarch (or instant pudding mix).
Bavarian cream (crème Bavarois) is a dessert made by thickening milk with eggs and gelatin or isinglass, whereas Boston cream is made with cornstarch. Bavarian cream is much thicker and is a dessert on its own; Boston cream is runny and is used as a filling.
Boston cream donuts are usually made with yeast-risen doughnuts.
Usually, no. The dough, the custard filling, and the glaze often all contain dairy and/or eggs. You can find vegan Boston cream donuts at most vegan donut shops (such as Donut Friend in Los Angeles under the name "Custard Front Drive"). You can also easily make homemade vegan Boston cream donuts!
Did you make this vegan Boston cream donuts recipe? I'd love to hear about it! Please comment and leave a star🌟 rating below. This helps me run Aegean Delight and I always appreciate it 🙂Print