Friday, April 6, 2012

Baked Lemon Ricotta Doughnuts

As we enter the beauty of spring, there are certain pastry ingredients that for me are iconic of the season. Lemon is certainly one of them and ricotta seems to belong there as well. Along with all the fruit that’s about to arrive, lemon just really evokes the desserts I gravitate toward at this time of year.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been getting back into playing with yeast and this recipe looked like something fun to do for a spring table. These are yeast doughnuts that have a simple lemon ricotta filling just sweet enough to make the pastry special. The other thing that distinguishes these doughnuts is that they are baked rather than fried. They are nevertheless puffy, delicious, much lighter than expected and very tender. And they certainly make spring all the brighter.

Preparing these little pastries does require some planning. There are two proofing sessions but once they have properly risen, they bake off in just 10 - 12 minutes. A roll in some melted butter and the sprightly mix of sugar and lemon zest complete the package. Great rustic textures and flavors for these long sunny days.

Bench notes:
- You’ll need a total of 4 lemons for all three elements: the dough, ricotta filling and the lemon sugar.
- I always mix yeast doughs by hand but I've provided the recipe directions for mixing in a stand mixer.
- To test if your yeast dough has proofed long enough in the first rise, gently press two fingertips about 1/2" into the dough. The indentations should remain or only come back out minimally and very slowly. For more yeast troubleshooting, see the Red Star guide. Check out the entire site. Lots and lots of clear information there about working with yeast.
- The recipe says to mix the ricotta filling in a food processor but I think mixing it by hand just enough to combine the ingredients results in a less runny filling in addition to chilling it thoroughly.
- I used a small truffle scoop to portion the filling. It’s tempting to portion more than recommended but try to stick to a heaping teaspoon or the ricotta will seep out as you try to seal them.
- I used a brush to coat the doughnuts in warm butter and then rolled them in the lemon sugar.
- I served the doughnuts with fresh raspberries macerated in a bit of sugar.

Baked Lemon Ricotta Doughnuts
adapted from Australian Gourmet Traveller
Serves 12 (24 doughnuts)

Yeast Dough

5 C flour + extra for dusting
1/2 C + 3 T sugar
1 pkg yeast
zest of 2 lemons
1 C lukewarm whole milk + extra for brushing
1/3 C buttermilk @ room temperature
2 eggs @ room temperature
1 oz (2 T) butter, melted

Lemon Ricotta Filling

8 oz ricotta
1/4 C sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 large egg


4 oz (8 T) butter
1 C sugar
finely grated zest of 1 1/2 lemons

Prepare one large or two medium sized baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.

Combine flour, sugar, yeast and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix to combine. Whisk together warm milk, room temperature buttermilk and eggs and the melted butter. With the mixer running, add the liquids to the flour mixture, then mix on medium speed until dough is smooth and elastic (about 4-5 minutes). Shape into a ball, place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (1 – 1 1/2 hours).

For the lemon ricotta filling, whisk together ricotta, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and egg just until smooth. Transfer the mixture to an airtight container and chill for at least 1 hour.

Gently punch down the dough and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out to a very thin sheet (5mm thickness). Cut out 48 rounds using a 3” cutter. Place a heaping teaspoon of lemon ricotta filling in center of 24 rounds. Brush edges with milk, cover with the remaining rounds and press firmly to seal the edges. Transfer to baking sheet(s), cover and stand in a warm place for 1 – 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

For the finishing garnish, melt the 4 oz of butter and set aside. For the lemon sugar, place the sugar and lemon zest in a bowl of a food processor and pulse until the sugar is aromatic. Pour into a bowl and fluff with a fork or a whisk.

Bake the doughnuts 10 – 12 minutes until the bottoms are golden.

Dip hot doughnuts immediately in the melted butter and then toss in lemon sugar. Serve warm.


Terry said...

They look fabulous ...and loved the idea their baked then usually ricotta give baked goods a very soft and light textures...these should be tries!.... Well i must admit i have quite a few recipes from your greta blog saved cos i want to try them! My compeliments!

pastry studio said...

Welcome and thanks so much for your comments, Terry. I hope you get a chance to savor all these morsels!!

Elly McCausland said...

These look incredible, exactly my kind of thing! Having not eaten a doughnut in years (I know...I must be mad), I can't even imagine how good that ricotta filling must taste inside its little doughy parcel. So I might just have to make them so I can find out...!

pastry studio said...

Elly, I haven't eaten a doughnut or fried food in eons, so this recipe was especially appealing to me. I was surprised they were so good!


Lisa @ Snappy Gourmet said...

I just pinned these! They look great!

pastry studio said...

Thank you, Lisa! I'm on a waiting list to join Pinterest.

GG Mora said...

I need to scrapes the dirt from under my nails and get busy baking. I have such a backlog of your recipes to try. Ooh..Mocha Cream Tart? Must...make...this...

...wait, what?? Coffee Walnut Cookies? Okay! No, wait, Peanut Cookie Brittle!

Oh, now these...why do they seem to rhyme perfectly with 'full moon'?

(Love your blog; I check every Friday in eager anticipation of new posts.)

thelittleloaf said...

These look like they have the most wonderful texture and beautiful sugary that you can bake them and no scary deep fat fryers too!

pastry studio said...

GG Mora, what a funny and kind thing to say! I'm really enjoying planning and putting these pastries together each week. Now get to work!

A Feast for the Eyes said...

You hit two of my favorite flavor notes-- lemon and creamy ricotta. The raspberry sauce is a perfect condiment for these. I love that these are baked. Pinned!

Brittany said...

These look heavenly - I can't wait to try them!

Hannah said...

My jaw dropped when I saw these - lemon and ricotta are two favorites, and combined in a (baked!) doughnut is divine. I have to say, I always want to make whatever treats you create! Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

These look great , just wondering what yeast you used??

pastry studio said...

Anonymous, I used 1 pkg (2 1/4 teaspoons) Red Star active dry yeast.