Make Little Doughnuts (Petits Beignets) + Crème Pâtissière 

 April 1, 2021

By  Gareth Busby


4 - 5 HOURS


Little doughnuts like these are found in many bakeries in France. They are are a much loved treat and after making these yourself you will find it hard to go back to buying them again!

A fairly simple dough, the hard part is shaping the tiny dough pieces into balls before the dough becomes sticky.

Creme patissiere is a thickened custard, often used in the bases of fruit tarts and filling for eclairs too. It's pretty straight forward to make, but you can also use jam or a chocolate spread. Enjoy making these french little doughnuts, they are just perfect!

How to make little doughnuts video tutorial


For the dough:

     250g  White bread flour

     130g  Whole milk (or 105g semi skimmed and 25g double cream)

       50g  Egg (1 large)

       15g  Fresh yeast (7g dried)

         5g  Salt

       20g  Caster sugar

       30g  Butter in small cubes or pieces

For frying:

     700g  Vegetable oil

For creme patissiere:

          6  Egg yolks

    100g  Caster sugar

      40g  Plain flour

      40g  Cornflour

  600ml  Milk (semi skimmed or full fat)

For the sugar dusting:

    200g  Caster or icing sugar

Method to make your own doughnuts!


Measure the dough ingredients

Weight the ingredients. If using dried yeast follow the instructions below.  Excluding the butter and sugar, add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl or dough mixer bowl (if using).


Slow kneading

Set a 4 minute timer and use a dough scraper to gently combine the ingredients. When the bowl is starting to hinder the kneading technique, move the dough onto a workbench. Start slow kneading using a slow stretching technique until the timer sounds.

In a dough mixer:

Mix for 5 minutes at a slow speed. Skip step 3.


Rest in the fridge

Place the dough back into the mixing bowl, cover and put in the fridge for 5-10 minutes to cool down.


Fast knead alongside adding the sugar and butter

Remove from the fridge and fold the sugar into the dough. Once integrated, set the timer for 4 minutes and knead fast, using the stretch and slap technique. Once the timer sounds, put the dough back in the bowl and add the butter. Mash the dough into the fat with your hand to encourage them to incorporate. When combined, take the dough back on to the table and knead as fast as you can for 2 minutes.

In a dough mixer:

Move up to a faster speed and knead for 2 minutes. Continue running the mixer whilst adding the sugar, then 1 minute later add the cubed butter, a few cubes at a time. Continue mixing for another 3-4 minutes until butter is incorporated and the dough feels even and strong.


First rise

Using a plastic dough scraper, remove the dough from the table put into an oiled bowl. Cover, and leave to bulk ferment for 1 hour on the side.


Divide the dough into balls

Grease one large, or two small baking trays with vegetable oil. Next, lightly dust the worktop with flour and turn the dough onto it. Using a metal dough scraper, divide the dough into 10g pieces. They are tiny, but be patient, they'll get bigger! Once they have been divided, roll them into balls in your hands. Place the balls onto the tray in rows.


Final rise

Cover loosley with a large bag and place somewhere warm to proof for 1-1 ½ hours.


Prepare the creme patissiere

This is when I make the creme patissiere, although, it can be done the day before. Take a large mixing bowl and drop the egg yolks with the sugar and whisk until the colour starts to fade. Heat the milk in a pan. Add the flour and cornflour to the egg yolks and continue whisking. Add scolding milk to the egg mixture and stir with a wooden spoon. Pour the mixture into the pan and turn on the heat. Keep stirring. Once the mixture boils with large bubbles on the surface, turn the heat down, still stirring. Cook until it thickens. Pour into a clean container to cool and rub a little bit of butter on the surface to prevent a skin forming.


Heat the oil

Once the doughnuts have almost doubled in size, heat the vegetable oil in a wide saucepan or use a deep fat fryer. Optimum temperature is 160-170C (320-340F).


Fry the doughnuts

Once heated, drop around 5 (depending on how much space is in the pan) little doughnuts into the oil. It's best to use a set of tongs with long handles to prevent the oil from burning your hands. When they are golden brown underneath (1-2 minutes), use tongs to turn them over and fry for a minute on the other side until golden.


Drain them...

Use the tongs to remove the doughnuts from the fryer and drain them on a bowl or colander, lined with kitchen paper. Leave them to cool whilst you fry the remaining doughnuts.


Fill them...

Prepare a piping bag with a long nozzle or a doughnut syringe. Fill the piping bag with creme patissiere and pipe them into the centre of the doughnuts.


...and sugar them!

Prepare a bowl of caster or icing sugar. Roll the doughnuts around in the bowl, tap the excess and place in a presentation bowl.

Using dried yeast

If using instant yeast, divide the amount of fresh yeast used by 3 and follow the same method as fresh yeast.

Active dried yeast needs to be activated before use. In this case, warm 20 grams of milk to 35C (95F), add the yeast with half a teaspoon of sugar, whisk and leave to stand for ten minutes before adding to the dough. Remove 20 grams of milk from the recipe.

Top tips for the best french little doughnuts

Try to keep the filling amounts the same in each of your little doughnuts. You can use the scales to weigh the doughnuts before and after filling if you wish to.

If you are not going to use the creme patissiere right away, place in a pot and cover with a layer of melted butter and greaseproof paper.

Doughnuts do not keep that well, especially little doughnuts. But they do freeze nicely when filled and dusted with icing sugar, they can make great grab and go snacks for the packed lunches.

Rate this recipe:
Average: 4.1 (from 22 votes)
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