Rhubarb + Custard Doughnuts

Rhubarb + custard doughnuts | Hello Victoria

One of the best things about our allotment is that it has rhubarb. Richard and I both love rhubarb in all sorts of things – muffins, cakes, crumbles, pies… etc. (Although, we also love just plain ol’ stewed rhubarb with some yogurt.) However, sometimes it feels like we almost have too much rhubarb (I know – it’s a thing!) and I’m always looking for new ways to use it.

One of the first things that came to my mind was rhubarb doughnuts! Someone at my work had actually tried to make rhubarb and custard doughnuts before, but the acidity in the rhubarb jam he made caused the cream to curdle. Ever since then I’ve always thought that if I were to do it, I would turn the rhubarb into a curd instead, as it would prevent any curd-ling. After all, you can mix lemon curd with cream and it’s fine – and lemon is even more acidic!

Rhubarb + custard doughnuts | Hello Victoria

So I went back to my tried and true recipe for crème patissière, which is the same recipe I use for making lemon curd! I simply swap the milk amount for lemon juice, and add as much zest as the amount of lemons I juice. I figured I could do the same with rhubarb purée! However, once I had stewed the rhubarb, and blitzed it – it wouldn’t press through a seive like raspberry or some other kind of puree. Too much fibre. In the end I didn’t seive it, and simply reduced the amount of cornstarch in the recipe to account for how thick the puree is to start with. I figured that the rhubarb purée was about halfway between how thin milk is, and how thick I wanted the final curd – so I halved the amount of thickener (cornstarch) to just 10g.

Rhubarb + custard doughnuts | Hello Victoria

The rhubarb taste is there, but subtler than I was expecting. I’m debating trying to make these without the custard next time. I would double the amount of rhubarb puree, and just flavour the whipping cream with vanilla and fold them together. I think the flavour would be amazing – but then I love rhubarb, and it might be too strong for some. But even without the strong rhubarb flavour – these still taste great!

Rhubarb + custard doughnuts | Hello Victoria

For the doughnut itself, I used the same recipe from Justin Gellatly’s book Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding, that I used in the paska doughnuts. Except, as these weren’t paska doughnuts, I used his traditional recipe with water instead of citrus juice. If you want a few tips on how to fry them, check out the paska recipe! My key tip is always to prove the doughnuts on parchment paper, rather than trying to lift them off a floured surface. You can even pre-cut the squares before shaping, so that you don’t have to try and cut around the doughnuts once proven.

When I was trying to decide how to garnish these (all doughnuts need a garnish, IMHO), I was torn between poached rhubarb, and rhubarb curls! In the end, I think the poached stuff works better, as it looks more like rhubarb at first glance. It has better colour. However, the fact that you can make ribbons out of rhubarb is always fun. 🙂 I used this recipe to make them.

Rhubarb + custard doughnuts | Hello Victoria

Rhubarb + custard doughnuts | Hello Victoria

Which garnish do you think looks better?

Rhubarb + custard doughnuts | Hello Victoria

Either way, if you happen to have a glut of rhubarb from your garden, or just love doughnuts, why not try these? You could even try reducing the amount of creme patissiere in the recipe to see if the stronger flavour is better? Taste is always a personal preference. Or, you can just eat the rhubarb curd straight – ha! Pipe it into tart shells, or make a rhubarb meringue pie! Enjoy!

Rhubarb + Custard Doughnuts


  • Doughnut Dough:
  • 500g white bread flour (strong white)
  • 60g caster sugar (berry sugar), plus extra for coating
  • 10g salt
  • 5g instant yeast (15g fresh, 7.5 active dry*)
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 150ml water
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2ltrs neutral vegetable oil, for frying
  • Rhubarb Puree:
  • 225g rhubarb, chopped
  • 0.5 orange, zest and juice
  • 50g + 2 tsp sugar
  • 25ml lemon juice
  • 10g cornstarch
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Creme Patissiere:
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 50g sugar
  • 20g cornstarch
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 0.25 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out (or 0.25 tsp vanilla paste/extract)
  • 250ml double cream (whipping)
  • 40g caster sugar


  1. In a small bowl, mix together the flour and yeast. In a large bowl**, combine the water, citrus zest, sugar, eggs, flour mixed with yeast, and salt (layered in that order). Using a wooden spoon, stir until the dough starts to come together, then turn out onto a clean work surface.
  2. Knead the dough at a medium pace, for about 8 minutes, being careful not to add any extra flour. This dough will be very sticky, so use a bench scraper to help you knead.
  3. Allow the dough to rest for one minute.
  4. Start kneading again, and add the butter in small amounts - kneading in each one before adding the next. Once you have added all the butter, knead at a fast pace for 5 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic. It'll still be very very sticky.
  5. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with cling film, and allow to prove for 1-1.5 hours. Punch the dough down, recover, and place in the fridge overnight.
  6. While the dough is resting in the fridge, make your rhubarb curd and pastry cream.
  7. Place the chopped rhubarb, orange zest, juice, and 2 tsp sugar in a bowl. Allow the rhubarb to macerate while you make the crème patissière, drawing out the water.
  8. For the pastry cream: In a medium bowl, mix together your egg yolk, cornstarch, and enough of the milk to thin it out a little.
  9. Heat the remaining milk, sugar, and vanilla in a saucepan, over medium heat, until just simmering. Turn off the heat, cover, and allow to infuse for 20-30 minutes.
  10. Bring the milk back up to a low boil, and slowly pour it into the egg yolk mixture, whisking the whole time to prevent the egg cooking.
  11. Return the whole mixture to the pot, and cook over a medium heat, whisking constantly.
  12. Once the mixture begins to thicken, remove from the heat for 10 seconds, and whisk vigorously. Return to the heat and allow to come to a full boil, for 10-15 seconds - keep whisking.
  13. Strain mixture onto a large piece of cling film, and wrap to make a little pillow. Chill in the fridge until cold.
  14. For the rhubarb curd: in a small pot over low heat, cook the rhubarb mixture until soft and broken down. Remove from heat, allow to cool, and puree in a food processor.
  15. In a medium bowl, mix together your egg yolk, cornstarch, and enough of the lemon juice to thin it out a little.
  16. Heat the remaining lemon juice, rhubarb purée, and sugar in a saucepan, over medium heat to a low boil, and slowly pour it into the egg yolk mixture, whisking the whole time to prevent the egg cooking.
  17. Return the whole mixture to the pot, and cook over a medium heat, whisking constantly.
  18. Once the mixture begins to thicken, remove from the heat for 10 seconds, and whisk vigorously. Return to the heat and allow to come to a full boil, for 10-15 seconds - keep whisking.
  19. Strain mixture onto a large piece of cling film, and wrap to make a little pillow. Chill in the fridge until cold.
  20. The next day, remove the dough from the fridge, and divide into 50g pieces. You should get 20. Shape each of them on a table (you may want to lightly flour your hand) into a tight bun shape. Do this by cupping your hand over the piece, and moving your hand circles.
  21. Place the rounds on parchment lined trays, and lightly cover with cling film sprayed with cooking oil to prevent sticking. Allow to prove in a warm place for 1.5-3 hours, or until doubled in size.
  22. When the dough is almost ready, begin heating the oil in a large pot over medium heat, until the temperature reads 180°C (356°F). You will need to be very careful working with the oil (it's hot!), and try and check the temp. between each batch. Cut the parchment paper around each doughnut.
  23. Fry the doughnuts in groups of 2 or three, for about 1.5-2 minutes on each side. Place them in the oil gently, by the parchment paper, and remove it once you have flipped the doughnuts.
  24. Remove the doughnuts to a paper towel lined plate, to soak up any excess oil. While still warm, toss the doughnuts in a bowl of caster sugar.
  25. Once all the doughnuts are fried, allow them to cool while you finish the filling.
  26. Remove the pastry cream and curd from the fridge, and beat until smooth.
  27. Whip the double cream, and 40g caster sugar until stiff, then divide in two and fold each half into the rhubarb and pastry cream. Gently swirl the two together. Fill a piping bag, fitted with a small round nozzle, with the mixture, or a ziplock bag with a small hole cut in the corner.
  28. Using a paring knife, cut a small hold in the side of each of the doughnuts, to allow you to fill them.
  29. Stick your piping bag in the hole, and fill the doughnut, then pipe a small amount to cover the hole. Decorate with poached rhubarb, or whatever garnish you like!


*If using active dry yeast, you will need to warm the water to about 46°C (115°F) and allow to dissolve. If using either active dry or fresh, add to the water instead of flour. **Feel free to make in a stand mixer if you have one, using your dough hook. Simply mix on medium speed for the time shown. It's much easier to use a machine with such a sticky dough.

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When I was a kid, these weren’t my favorite thing because they contained a dreaded ingredient – raisins. Not sure why, but I have always disliked raisins, especially in baked goods. You know when you pick up a cookie, thinking it’s chocolate chip, only to eat a raisin?! Worst thing ever… I can remember eating raisins out of those little red boxes as a child, and enjoying it. But now, despite my best efforts to get used to those shriveled little pockets of sadness… I just don’t like ’em.

Portzelky: New Years cookies recipe | Hello Victoria

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For those of you who don’t know what paska is, it’s a yeasted Ukrainian Easter bread, flavoured with lemon and orange. It’s usually served with sweetened cream cheese – or at least that’s what my grandma always made with it. And if you grew up in a Mennonite family, then you’re probably used to seeing paska with some simple icing on top, sprinkled with rainbow sprinkles… like this!

Ukrainian Easter bread inspiration | Hello Victoria

paska photo via Natasha’s Kitchen

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