Fresh from the ovens of Lisbon, Nuno Mendes shares his secrets for comforting custard-dripping doughnuts
“Bolas de Berlim literally means ‘balls from Berlin’, and these were first brought to Portugal by Jewish refugees.
We had to make them our own, of course, so some crafty genius decided to slit the doughnut open and fill it with egg custard. I love the yeasty flavour of the soft dough, the sugary crust and the creamy filling.
Get creative when you make these yourself: you can use plain old jam, Nutella or whipped Jersey cream as a filling – or you could even create a savoury doughnut like my favourite, crab and crème fraîche, using exactly the same dough recipe.”
• 3 eggs
• 2 oranges, Finely grated zested
• 500g plain white flour
• 130g caster sugar
• 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
• 25g fresh yeast or 12g dried yeast
• 110g butter, cut into cubes and softened
• vegetable oil, for frying
• caster sugar, for dusting
For the egg cream filling:
• 200ml Custard tarts, sugar syrup
• 6 egg yolks
• 1 lemon, Finely grated zested
• 40g ground almonds
1 Mix the eggs, 130ml water and the orange zest in a bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours before using.
2 Combine the flour, sugar and salt in an electric mixer bowl using the paddle attachment.
3 Whisk the yeast into the egg and water mixture, pour it into the mixer bowl and then mix for 20 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and comes away from the sides of the bowl.
4 Add the butter gradually, mixing until it is fully incorporated and the dough is smooth and stretchy. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover it loosely with clingfilm and leave it in the fridge to rise overnight.
5 To make the filling — Heat the sugar syrup in a pan until it is just boiling, then leave to cool for a few minutes. Whisk the egg yolks lightly in a heatpoof bowl, then pour the sugar syrup over them, whisking constantly.
6 Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook gently over a low heat for 10–12 minutes, or until thickened, stirring constantly.
7 Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and ground almonds. Pour onto a plate and leave to cool to room temperature, covered with clingfilm to prevent a skin forming.
8 To shape the doughnuts, divide the dough into 12 roughly 40g pieces and shape each piece into a small ball with your hands. Cover them with a tea towel and leave to prove for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
9 One-third fill a large, heavy-based pan with oil and heat it to 180°C, or until a cube of bread sizzles and turns golden brown almost straight away.
10 Fry the doughnuts in batches for about 2 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove, drain on kitchen paper and roll in caster sugar while warm, then leave them to cool.
11 Make a slit in the middle of each doughnut without cutting all the way through. Spoon the egg cream filling inside and serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy of Nuno Mendes, extracted from Lisboeta. © Bloomsbury Publishing