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A couple summers ago, I went through this phase where I just fried things.  Candy bars, doughnuts, beignets, funnel cakes, popcorn, hot dogs.  The thing is, even though everybody knows that deep fat frying anything is health-wise not a good idea, my taste buds beg to differ.  Fried things are delicious.  And the way I see it, as long as I don’t eat fried foods too much, it’s totally fine.

So I’ve made doughnuts before.  I’ve made plain doughnuts and pudding-filled doughnuts.  Doughnuts are awesome.  They are probably one of my favorite foods.  And so when I came across this recipe for Meyer lemon curd filled doughnuts…well.  Of course I had to make them.

These doughnuts took a long time to make because not only do you have to make the doughnuts, you also have to make lemon curd.  And things have to rise, and cool, and fry and—okay, it’s kind of labor-intensive.  I also wouldn’t recommend making these on a really hot day because yes, you do have to stand over the cooking lemon curd and stir the whole time.

But it’s so worth it!  I promise you, these doughnuts are beautiful and delicious and definitely in the top five of Things I Have Made.  The doughnut itself is soft and a little dense, with just a hint of cinnamon.  And the lemon curd…don’t even get me started.  It’s so good.  Tart and sweet and creamy and the prettiest light yellow I’ve ever seen.  I had a bunch left over because I didn’t fill all my doughnuts, and so for the next few days I put lemon curd on everything.  Sometimes I even just ate it with a spoon.  Ahaha.

I was worried while making these because, for one, when I mixed the yeast and warm water, nothing happened.  I just had weird brown water that smelled kind of funky.  I dumped out the first bit and tried again, but when the same thing happened, I just used it.  It worked fine for me.  The next minor freak out I had concerned the lemon curd.  I was actually kind of mildly terrified that I would end up with lemon flavored scrambled eggs, which sounds ridiculously disgusting.  Luckily, this didn’t happen, because I stirred the whole time it was cooking.

But now enough of me rambling.  I’ll let the doughnuts do their own talking…

Meyer lemon curd filled doughnuts

For the lemon curd:

½ cup Meyer lemon juice

2 teaspoons Meyer lemon zest

½ cup sugar

2 large eggs

½ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Pinch of salt

  1. Put everything except the butter in a metal bowl and whisk it all together.  Add in the butter and place the metal bowl over a small pot of simmering water.  Keep stirring so you don’t end up with lemony scrambled eggs.  Check the temperature—when it gets to 160°, it’s done.  Run the curd through a fine mesh sieve into another bowl, pressing the curd through with a spatula.  Cover the bowl, let it cool, and then stick it in the fridge for later.

For the doughnuts:

1 package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons warm water (105–115°F)
3 1/4 cups flour, plus some for rolling
1 cup whole milk at room temperature
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar + 3/4 cup to roll the finished doughnuts in
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Oil for frying

  1. Stir yeast and water together.  It should get foamy, but mine worked just fine even though my yeast refused to foam.
  2. Beat together flour, yeast mixture, milk, butter, egg yolks, sugar, salt, and cinnamon.  Beat until a soft dough forms and then beat for another 3 minutes.  Scrape the dough into a ball, cover the bowl with a clean towel (not terry cloth) and let it sit in a warm place until doubled, 1 ½ to 2 hours.
  3. Turn dough onto a floured surface and, using a floured rolling pin, roll to ½ in thick.  Use a round cookie cutter to cut out as many rounds as possible.  Cover with a clean towel and let rise for 30 minutes.  Note: The original recipe says not to reroll the dough.  I didn’t and just fried up a lot of crazy shaped doughnuts (like this little guy).  Next time I’m going to try rerolling it, since I only ended up with 11 round doughnuts.
  4. Now the fun part.  Heat enough oil for frying (about 2 ½ inches deep) in a 4qt pot or an electric skillet.  Heat to 350°.  Carefully place 3-4 doughnuts in the hot oil.  Use a mesh skimmer or slotted spoon to turn.
  5. When they’re done, the doughnuts should be puffy and golden brown.  Place doughnuts on a paper towel-covered plate to drain.  Let them cool completely.
  6.  To fill the doughnuts, use a pastry bag with a nozzle, plastic squeeze bottles, basters—basically, whatever works.  I used a pastry pipe.  Basically just fill up your instrument of choice, poke it into the doughnut, and squeeze.
  7. Roll the doughnuts in sugar.

I think I ate five of these in one sitting.  Which should be disgusting but they were just so delicious that I kind of can’t be bothered to care.  Besides, it’s summer.  It’s time to live a little.