Let's Make: Caramel Popcorn Donut - Better Than A Bakery - Popcorn Pastry Cream | Caramel Glaze | Caramel Popcorn | Slow Leavened Donut

Let's Make: Caramel Popcorn Donut - Better Than A Bakery - Popcorn Pastry Cream | Caramel Glaze | Caramel Popcorn | Slow Leavened Donut

Makes 12 Yeasted Donuts, with an overnight dough proof and pastry cream setup. Best eaten the same day.


Popped Corn:

120 g Popcorn

36 g Butter

36 g Neutral Oil (I used sunflower)

Infused Milk Cream Mix:

160 g Popped corn

700 g  Whole milk

445 g Cream

Popcorn Pastry Cream:

130 g Sugar

32 g Cornstarch

20 g All-purpose flour

720 g Infused milk cream mix:

160 g Egg yolks

20 g Vanilla extract

52 g Butter (sliced, room temp)

5 g Salt

Yeasted Donuts:

380 g All-purpose flour

50 g Sugar

5 g Salt

6 g Instant yeast

50 g Egg (room temperature)

227 g Whole milk

28 g Butter

5 g Vanilla extract

1000 g Sunflower oil (or other neutral oil) to fry

Caramel Glaze:

100 g Brown sugar

56 g Butter

30 g Milk

70 g Powdered sugar

Caramel Corn:

60 g Popped corn

5 g Salt

65 g Water

136 g Sugar

18 g Butter


In a large saucepan heat up oil and butter over a medium heat, add popcorn and stir to coat. Cover with lid. Once popcorn begins to pop crack the lid slightly and reduce the heat to medium low. Give the pan a shake from time to time to help settle as many kernels as you can to get a high popcorn yield. Once done popping, remove from the heat, pour into a bowl and set aside.

To make the Infused Milk Cream Mix, heat milk and cream in a large saucepan over a high heat until bubbling. Remove from the heat. Pour in popcorn, cover with a lid and let steep for an hour. 

Pour through a tea towel-lined strainer into a large bowl. Gather up the four corners of the tea towel and wring out as much of the infusion as you can. Set aside.

To make the Popcorn Pastry Cream, prep your butter into a small bowl. In a large bowl combine egg yolks, cornstarch and all-purpose flour and whisk to combine. Then grab a large saucepan and stir together the infused milk cream mix, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract over a medium-high heat.

Once it begins to bubble remove from the heat, and pour into the egg yolk mixture, whisking continuously. Return to the saucepan and cook over a medium heat, whisking all the while until it begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, until smooth a glossy.

Pour into a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, pressing down to touch the surface (to prevent a skin from forming). Place in the refrigerator overnight to setup.

To make the Yeasted Donuts, in a small saucepan add the butter and whole milk, and heat until the butter melts (stirring occasionally). Remove from the heat. Once about blood temperature whisk in the egg and vanilla extract. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, combine all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, instant yeast. Stir to combine, then pour in your milk, butter, egg, vanilla extract mix and kneed on medium for 5 minutes or so. Remove the dough to a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap (or beeswrap) and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Remove the dough from the bowl and on a flour surface kneed briefly to help improve the gluten spring. Roll out to about 6.5 mm (1/4") thickness. Cut out 8 cm (3") circles and place on a lined baking tray, leaving room for expansion.

Boil a small saucepan of water, place in a cool oven along lined baking tray with the dough circles, shutting the door and proof for 1 - 2 hours, or until doubled in height.

In a large saucepan heat the sunflower oil to 182ºC (360ºF), adjusting the heat to hold as close as possible as you go. Remove the lined baking tray with the proofed dough circles. Place a cooling rack over a baking tray on the other side of your saucepan of hot oil with a slotted spoon.

Frying in batches of three (depending on pan size) fry for about 1 minute per side, flipping when golden brown, adjusting your frying oil temp as needed to try to stay as close to 182ºC (360ºF) as possible. Remove the donuts to the cooling rack as you go to drain and cool.

Once the donuts have been fried and cooled, remove your pastry cream from the refrigerator, remove plastic wrap, and give a brief stir to smooth out. Over whisking at this point, for instance in a food processor can cause it to return to a more liquid state and should be avoided (I have learned this the hard way).

We are going to pipe the pastry cream into the donuts with a piping bag fitted with a filling tip (elongated), but before that, use your tip to poke a whole in the side of each donut, to the middle, to prepare the way for the pastry cream. If your pastry cream is too thin, this prep work will save a world of heartache as the filling tip will want to go backwards when pushed into the donut (again, learnt the hard way).

Fit the filling tip into your piping bag, bend the tip back and place in an upright container to make filling more easy. Pour in the pastry cream, cinch the end with a twist and pipe a Ping-Pong ball dollop of pastry cream into the middle of each donut, leaving a pretty little tail on the outside of each. Set aside.

To prepare the Caramel Popcorn, pop the popcorn as before (with the infused milk cream mix, remember when that happened?), add salt, toss briefly, and set aside in a large bowl. 

In a small saucepan over a high heat boil water, sprinkling in sugar to help dissolve, don't stir (the more agitation the more likely it will crystalize), but you can jiggle it lightly to help the sugar hydrate. Cook until a deep amber, remove from the heat, and add the butter, stir to combine, and quickly add to the popcorn, stir and quickly pour out onto a lined baking tray. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then break apart. Set aside.

To prepare the Caramel Glaze, in a small saucepan heat whole milk and butter over a medium-high heat until bubbling. Add brown sugar and stir to dissolve. Remove from the heat. Add powdered sugar and whisk until smooth. Cool until a line drawn along the bottom with a finger slowly closes up. You want a glaze that is fluid but just on the edge of setting up, so that it drips slightly and then stops.

Using a spoon dollop a bit on the top of each donut, smoothing out and placing a small circle of caramel popcorn in the middle of each donut to decorate. Share with others (best eaten the same day) and Enjoy!



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