Inspired by the Eastern European-style ponchiks, these donuts are soft and pillowy, and exploding with a river of Nutella. One of the best donuts you could ever experience!
If only I was good at writing poems…
I’d write one for this donut.
Wait a sec…I think I will! Squint your eyes people, hideous poetry is about to commence….
Puffy donut so warm and fine,
On this day…I shall make you mine.
You’ve captured my heart with your gleaming sight,
And if someone tries to take you, they should expect a fight.
You have a heart of Nutella, so glossy and runny,
And if I think of selling you, I’d make so much money.
You have a soft fluff like nothing I’ve seen,
But it’s your inner beauty that is kind of obscene.
Now come on over with your dusting of sugar,
There’s nothing I want more than to one after another.
Heheheeee that was so cringy! But I promise, it came from the bottom of my heart, and meant every word lol! And for this, I shall be pardoned.
Guys I really donut know where to begin with these donuts? See what I did here? “Donut” instead of “do not?” Eeeeeeeeek 😂
Sorry I couldn’t help it…I donut know what has gotten into me?! Lol! I promise this will be the last of it. Promise.
Seriously though, if you decide to close this tab already, unsubscribe from my mailing list, and never visit this blog again, I totally understand. But I urge you not to, or you’ll be missing out on perhaps the World’s Best Nutella Donuts.
Every time I make these, I get run over by a human stampede, hoovering the donuts off of the plate. It’s nothing short of a miracle, that I come out of it unharmed. The attack is always followed by screams and swoons and oooohs and ahhhhs. Puffs of powdered sugar flying in the air, and drops of Nutella here and there. It’s a messy, chaotic event, but I love every bit of it.
I mean…who can deny the power of Nutella?! I for one, had fallen victim to its witchcraft since I was a child, and have celebrated my infatuation to it with over 10 recipes around here.
Now imagine that sinfully smooth chocolate hazelnut goodness we know and die for, only warm, and oozing out of a pillowy fried dough that melts in the mouth.
Nutella heaven I’m telling you.
To get the mission accomplished, I knew I had to start with a killer donut dough recipe. One that is springy and fluffy, yet sturdy enough and brioche-like to withstand carrying copious amounts of Nutella. It must also be moist, obviously, because dry donuts (or anything for that matter) are an evil waste of calories and should become illegal.
And this donut base recipe coming from Chef Steps no less, happened to fulfill all of the above. It’s great enough on its own, but the Nutella turns it into something beyond great. It easily blows bakery donuts out of the water.
I did tweak the original recipe a bit to mainstream the process by making it faster and easier. To do that, I swapped the active dry yeast called for in the recipe with instant. This meant that I could dump all the dry ingredients together, including the yeast, without having to activate it first. That way, I also didn’t have worry too much about the temperature of the liquids. I also omitted the diastatic malt powder called for in the recipe, because who has that?! It’s supposed to give the donuts better texture and make it rise faster. I tried the recipe with and without it, and I’m happy to report back that we felt no difference, so why bother? Another thing I changed, was cutting the recipe by 1/3. The full recipe made 33 donuts!!! I mean I can easily eat 33 donuts if my metabolism would let me, but for now, I can only handle having 11 around the house. Ofcourse feel free to double or triple the recipe according to your needs.
After some digging around and watching this video over 26 times, I learned that the Nutella gets into the donuts prior to frying, and NOT injected afterwards like most filled donuts. I also learned that this type of donuts is called Ponchiks! Armenian-style donuts, that are also popular throughout Eastern Europe under different names.
Ponchiks…How can you not fall for a pastry with a cute name like that?!
So while my version is not based on a traditional ponchik recipe, the idea is heavily inspired by it and the ingredients are pretty much the same.
Whenever I serve these donuts, people are always wondering how the Nutella got in, without leaving a hole in the side. I like to leave them thinking I’m some sort of pastry wizard, but for you, I’m spilling all the beans.
First, you wanna flatten a piece of dough into a circle. I like to do that on top of a piece of parchment paper, which will come in handy later, when you transfer the filled dough to a baking sheet to proof. Your hands are your best tool for the job here. So use them to stretch the dough, keeping the circle thicker in the center (to withstand all the Nutella filling) and thinner around the edges.
Now try not to be impressed with my manicure 😁
You’ll then pipe a generous, and by generous I mean GENEROUS, pile of Nutella in the center of the dough. Don’t laugh, but I actually pipe on top of my kitchen scale, to make sure that I’m not being stingy. Each piece of dough gets about 25 to 30 grams of Nutella. Yep! Not gonna apologize for it.
After that, you’ll take another piece of flattened dough and use it to cover the Nutella. Press really well on the dough edges to seal it shut.
Then use a biscuit cutter to cut off all the uneven edges. It also helps fuse the 2 doughs together even more. Don’t get rid of the dough scrapes; you’ll use them later to make more donuts.
After that, you’ll leave the donuts to proof for a bit over a parchment lined baking sheet until nice and puffy.
Then it’s frying time!
A great way to move the filled doughs from the baking sheet to the frying pan, is by carrying it using the parchment paper it was sitting on. That way, your fragile dough, won’t get damaged on its way. Clever ha?!
Now fry these babies to golden perfection!
Who are we kidding? A donut is not a donut with a topping…
So bring on that powdered sugar avalanche!
And now that insta-worthy moment we’ve been waiting for…
You want one!
Not gonna lie…I want 2!
So how do you spell it? Donuts or doughnuts? Or it is Ponchiks?
- For the Donut Dough:
- ¾ cup (177 grams) whole milk
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (19 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (19 grams) vegetable oil (or any neutral tasting oil)
- 1 large egg (50 grams without the shell)
- 2½ cups (313 grams) flour, preferably bread flour (*see note below)
- ¼ cup plus 1½ teaspoons (57 grams) granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon (2 grams) salt
- 2 teaspoons (7 grams) instant yeast
- For Filling the Donuts:
- 1 (350 grams) jar Nutella
- Vegetable oil (or any neutral tasting oil), for frying
- For Finishing:
- Powdered sugar, for dusting over donuts
- In a microwave-safe liquid measuring cup or small bowl, heat the milk in the microwave until very warm, but not hot (not higher than 110 °F / 43 °C); about 1 minute. Add the melted butter, oil and egg to the warm milk and whisk until well combined.
- Pour the milk mixture into the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the hook attachment (or a large mixing bowl, if kneading by hand).
- In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast to combine. With the mixer running on medium-low, add the flour mixture to the milk mixture, one large spoonful at a time, until it’s completely incorporated.
- Set the mixer to medium-high and mix until the dough is satiny smooth, elastic and pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl, but sticks to the bottom only; 10–20 minutes. Keep an eye on the mixer to make sure it doesn’t wobble its way off the side of the countertop over the course of the long mix.
- Form the dough into a ball, and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and set it in the fridge for one hour. (This cooling slows down the yeast action, a process known as retarding. It’s purpose here is to achieve a more consistent bubble structure in the donut and avoid getting huge blisters on the surface. It also makes working with the dough easier later). The dough will rise slightly in the fridge, but don’t expect it to double in size.
- Punch down the dough, then transfer it to a silicon mat or lightly floured working surface. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, divide the dough into 8 equal portions. Then cut into portion in half. You should now have 16 pieces of dough. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out.
- Take 1 piece of dough and place over a small square sheet of parchment paper as seen in the post photos (this will later aid in transferring the filled dough without damaging its shape). Try to avoid flouring the dough, but if its too sticky to work with, then flour your hands as needed. Using the palm of your hand, flatten it into a disk. Then using your fingers, push on the edges of the dough disk to stretch into a 9cm (3.5”) circle. The circle should be thicker in the center to withstand the weight of the Nutella, and thinner around the edges, which will get trimmed off anyway.
- Using a piping bag, pipe a generous amount (25-30 grams/ about 2 tablespoons) of Nutella into the center of the dough circle. I actually place the dough (using the parchment paper) on the kitchen scale and weigh the filling, to ensure that I don’t over or underfill.
- Flatten and stretch a second piece of dough the same way you flattened the first. Use this piece of dough to cover the Nutella sitting over the other piece of dough. Using your fingers, press firmly around the edges of the filled dough, to seal shut the top and bottom dough circles together. Using an 8cm (3¼”) round biscuit cutter, punch down on the dough, to cut out the excess dough off of the filled dough as shown in the post photos. Set aside the excess dough scraps and cover with plastic wrap; do not discard. Using the small piece of parchment paper underneath the filled dough, lift and transfer it to a lightly greased parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Loosely cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap.
- Repeat steps 7 to 9 to fill the remaining pieces of dough, and saving all the scraps. Transfer the filled donuts to the baking sheet, leaving at least 2” between them. You should now have 8 filled donuts. Gather up the scraps, knead lightly and divide into 3 equal portion. Cut each portion in half. You should now have 6 dough pieces. Use them to make 3 more filled donuts and place them on the covered baking sheet. If the dough snaps or shrinks back as you’re trying to stretch it, cover and let rest for 10 minutes, then try again. You should now have a total of 11 filled donuts altogether.
- Allow the donuts to proof on the countertop until they double in size, about 30–60 minutes depending on the temperature in your kitchen.
- In a large pot over medium heat, bring about 1½ inches (3.8cm) of oil to 350 °F / 177 °C. It is important for the oil to reach and maintain this temperature, as any hotter can cause the donuts to over-brown on the outside, before the center has a chance to cook through. Any cooler and the donuts will cook too slowly, absorbing too much oil, resulting in a greasy donut. So its advised to clip on a kitchen thermometer, if you have one.
- Cut the parchment paper with the donuts on top, into squares around each doughnut, then slide your hand under the squares and use them to transfer the doughnuts to the fryer. Fry the first side for 15 seconds, then flip and cook until the bottom is deep amber in color, about 80 seconds. Flip again and cook for another 80 seconds. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain.
- Let the donuts cool off for about 10 minutes then dust with powdered sugar to cover the surface. Serve warm or at room temperature. Generally, donuts’ texture is at its best within a couple of hours after frying, however, leftovers can be stored in an airtight container. Warm in the microwave to retain its freshly-made texture.
* Please note that for this recipe (as for many others) I used a kitchen scale to weigh my ingredients as opposed to measuring cups, to achieve more consistent results. I highly recommend you do so too. It’s infinitely more accurate and will give you the best results possible.
* Bread flour is preferable here, because it will absorb less fry oil. However, I've only ever used all purpose flour, because it's what's available where I live, and still had spectacular results.
*To make in advance, I’ve successfully prepared the dough the night before, and let it sit in the fridge overnight. It more than doubled in size, but the final results weren’t affected. I then proceeded with filling and frying the dough as per the recipe.
On other occasions, I’ve also been able to keep the filled doughs in the fridge for several hours before frying with great results. I’d just take them out of the fridge as I’m heating the oil, to allow them to continue rising. Though, I've never tried it in this particular recipe, I'd assume that the filled doughs can be kept in the fridge overnight, before frying.
Dough recipe adapted from Chef Steps with changes; streamlining the process by using instant yeast instead of active dry, omitting the diastatic malt powder, and cutting the recipe by ⅓ because I most definitely don’t need 33 donuts starring me in the face 🙂