Yield: 8 lemon brioche donuts // Total Time: 2 hr. 50 min. // Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links.
lemon brioche donuts
Hello hello! Spring and Summer means it’s time for allllll the citrus bakes. Lemon is one of my favorite flavors so I’m super excited to share these with you today. These lemon brioche donuts start with a super light and fluffy brioche dough that’s flavored with lemon extract. After frying, they immediately get coated with a mixture of lemon zest and sugar, and filled with a lemon whipped cream. While that might sound like a LOT of lemon, it’s not overpowering and really just gives off a refreshing hint of lemon in all of the components of the donuts. I know yeast bread can seem like a lot of work, but once you get the dough down, most of the time spent is really just waiting for the dough to rise. Below I have a lot of tips and tricks on dealing with yeast bread that I hope are helpful, but please feel free to leave any questions you might have below on the post. But anyways, let’s get into it!
weigh your ingredients
Weighing your ingredients is important for getting the recipe perfect and getting consistent results. Not weighing your ingredients can lead to adding too much or too little of an ingredient. In a small batch recipe it is especially important to get those correct measurements because there is less room for error. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend purchasing a kitchen scale. This one is super cheap and worked well for me when I was starting out!
the dough will need to knead..for a while
Kneading this dough will take a longer time than you are probably used to. This dough is enriched with eggs and butter which makes it take longer for the proper amount of gluten to develop. Kneading in the mixer can take me anywhere from 10-20 minutes. Also, please make sure you are using a higher protein all purpose flour that has at least 11%, not 10% protein (I use King Arthur Flour, 11.7%.) The dough is ready to be used when it passes the windowpane test and has pulled away from the sides and bottom of the bowl. If you are weighing your ingredients, just trust the process! If you are using cup measurements and the dough just is not coming together after 15 minutes, try adding in 1 tbsp. of flour at a time.
use room temperature ingredients
It is important for the ingredients to be at room temperature so that they properly incorporate with each other. Take out the egg and butter at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hr 30 min. before starting the recipe. To bring an egg to room temperature quickly, you can place it under hot water for 1 minute. To bring butter to room temperature quickly, slice it, place it on a plate, and microwave it in 5 second intervals!
heating the milk
Heating the milk is important for bringing the yeast to an optimal temperature for rising. The milk should be heated to ~100°F / 38°C but it does not have to be exact. As long as the milk is between 95°F – 110°F, it is good to be used. If the temperature exceeds 110°F, wait for it to cool down before using so that you do not kill the yeast!
ingredients and substitutions
For the brioche donuts:
All purpose flour: for structure and chewiness. Please be sure that you are using a high-quality flour that has a high protein %, such as King Arthur (11.7%) so that your gluten will develop. If you’re using a low protein flour, the gluten will not develop enough and you will have to add a lot more flour to the brioche, which will alter the dough!
Active dry yeast: for making the dough rise. You can easily substitute in instant yeast if that is what you have on hand. You will just skip the step of combining the warm milk, sugar, and yeast!
Salt: for balancing and bringing out the sweetness of the brioche. Salt also “controls” the yeast to make sure that it does not overly expand.
Granulated sugar: for sweetening the brioche and for helping the yeast with rising.
Egg: for binding and adding moisture.
Lemon extract: we’re going to use lemon extract in order to get the most flavor, because it would take too much lemon juice to add the same amount of flavor, which would also end up altering the texture.
Unsalted butter: for tenderizing the brioche rolls and giving them a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth feel. I would not recommend substituting in salted butter since salt is important to controlling yeast growth and the amount of salt in salted butter is quite variable.
Whole milk: for tenderizing and hydrating the dough. Whole milk will provide the softest rolls because the extra fat helps tenderize the dough. You can however swap in 1%, 2% or your favorite non dairy milk alternative! Just note that the dough may be a little less soft and fluffy due to the varying fat content.
For the lemon whipped cream:
Heavy whipping cream: the base of the whipped cream.
Lemon extract: for flavor!
Granulated sugar: for sweetening the whipped cream.
For the lemon sugar coating:
Granulated sugar & lemon zest
how to tell your dough is done kneading: the windowpane test
The windowpane test is (in my opinion) the best way to tell that your dough has been properly kneaded. Once the dough starts to pull away from the sides and the bottom of the mixing bowl, it is most likely ready. However, just to be sure that it’s good to go I check if it passes the windowpane test. To do that, take some of the dough in your hands and start to slowly stretch it out. If it can get thin enough to where light passes through it before tearing, then it’s good to go! If not, keep kneading until it does!
lemon filled donuts q&a
how to store lemon donuts
Fried donuts are definitely going to taste the best the day that they are baked, and I highly *highly* recommend serving them on the same day. Filled, they can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 hours at room temperature. I recommend filling them no more than 2 hours before serving so you don’t have to refrigerate them, which will change the texture a bit.
can I double this recipe?
Yes! I can’t emphasize using a kitchen scale enough for especially this recipe already, but if you are going to double or half the ingredients it is even more important that you weigh your ingredients. The dough is very hydrated and slight alterations can change the texture of the dough.
can I use instant yeast instead of active dry yeast?
Yes of course! Instead of mixing the heated milk, sugar, and yeast together, just pop all of the dough ingredients into your mixing bowl to start kneading. I do highly recommend refrigerating the dough overnight to make it easier to work with and more flavorful. However, if you are making the recipe all in one day, and using instant yeast, simply let the dough rest for just 10 minutes as the first rise, then proceed with the rest of the recipe.
can I make the dough ahead of time?
Yes, and I highly recommend it! Brioche dough is a very enriched dough that can be hard to work with when warm. Simply knead the dough together, cover it, and leave it to rise in the fridge overnight. When ready to make the honey almond brioche cake simply take it out of the fridge and proceed with the recipe.
my yeast mixture isn’t foaming, what should I do?
The mixture should start foaming around 5 minutes in. If it has not foamed after 10 minutes, the yeast is likely dead. You want to make sure that the milk temperature does not exceed 110°F / 43°C or it will kill the yeast. If you try it again and it still does not foam, the yeast you are using may be expired and you will want to purchase some more before proceeding.
why do you measure in grams?
My recipes are all written in grams because it is the most accurate way to bake. When you use a kitchen scale, you ensure that your baked goods turn out as close to the written recipe as possible. Plus, the cleanup is way easier when using a scale! I will provide standard cup measurements but please note that I have not tested the recipe using cup measurements and therefore can not guarantee your recipe will come out how mine did. Here is my favorite kitchen scale
a note on oven temperature.
Ovens vary and fluctuate in temperature. For example, I always have to set my oven to 330°F if I want it to bake at 350°F. If you love to bake like I do, I highly recommend getting an oven thermometer. They are super helpful for letting you know when your oven might be lying to you. I use this one.
tools and ingredients
You can find all my favorite tools and ingredients that I use on my Amazon Storefront page, here
did you make these lemon brioche donuts?
If you made these lemon brioche donuts I would love to see it and know your thoughts! Please leave a comment and review down below, and tag me on Instagram @freshbeanbakery. If you have any questions about the recipe I will gladly do my best to answer them in the comments below!
Lemon Brioche Donuts
Lemon Brioche Donuts
- 80 g whole milk (⅓ c.)
- 1 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 160 g all purpose flour (1 ⅓ c.)
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 egg room temperature
- 1 tsp. lemon extract
- 42 g unsalted butter (3 tbsp.) room temperature
Lemon Sugar Coating
- 150 g granulated sugar (¾ c.)
- zest of 1 large lemon
Lemon Whipped Cream
- 150 g heavy whipping cream (⅔ c.)
- ¾ tsp. lemon extract
- 25 g granulated sugar (2 tbsp.)
Lemon Brioche Donuts
- In a microwave safe measuring cup, heat the milk to 100°F / 38°C. Whisk in the yeast and the sugar. Set aside until the mixture begins to foam. (~5 minutes)
- While waiting, add the flour, salt, egg, lemon extract and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. When the yeast mixture begins to foam, add it in to the rest of the ingredients.
- Knead the dough on low speed for 1 minute to allow the ingredients to come together. Increase the speed to medium-high and knead for an additional 10-20 minutes, or until the dough passes the windowpane test. (This will happen after the dough has cleaned the sides and bottom of the bowl)
- Once the dough is done kneading, butter the inside of the bowl, form the dough into a ball and place it back in the bowl, then cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap. At this point, you could set the dough in the fridge to rise overnight, or continue to do this in one day. If doing in one day, set the dough in a warm area and wait for it to double in size (~1 hour.)
- Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down to remove excess air, then transfer it to a clean, lightly floured surface.
- Divide the dough into 8 equally sized pieces, and roll each tightly into a bowl.
- Transfer the buns to a parchment lined baking sheet and set a towel loosely over them. Allow them to rise in a warm environment for ~30 minutes, or until they have slightly puffed up.
- Make the lemon sugar coating: add the sugar and lemon zest to a bowl. Use your fingers to rub the lemon zest into the sugar, and set aside.
- Once the buns have puffed up, fill a large saucepan with at least 2" of vegetable or any neutral oil. Heat the mixture to 365°F / 185°C.
- Carefully place the donuts in to the fryer (3-4 at a time, depending on what your pan can fit). Fry the donuts on each side for 2-3 minutes, or until they are a deep golden brown. You can also check if they are done by making sure the internal temperature is at least 190°F / 87°C.
- Remove the donuts from the oil and immediately toss them in the lemon sugar.
Lemon Whipped Cream
- Beat together the heavy whipping cream, lemon extract & sugar until you have stiff peaks.
- Once the donuts have cooled to room temperature, use a sharp knife to poke a hole in the top of each donuts.
- Transfer the whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a round tip. Fill each donut generously with the whipped cream, then serve and enjoy!