Layered cake donuts with vanilla custard and chocolate sour cream ganache

Cupcakes who? Try cake donuts with custard filling with chocolate sour cream ganache.Confession: one of my favorite things about traveling is the bakeries. Real bakeries with homemade breads and loads of unique pastries, cakes and cookies. I love checking out all the bakeries I run across when traveling, even if just for the eye candy. In the States, we really get short changed by the supermarket bakeries, it's just not the same. Not homemade, not unique and not fresh. 

When I was traveling through Bocas del Toro, Panama, last year, I came across John's bakery, which had a wonderful assortment of fresh bread and pastries. One of their beautiful treats on display were custard donuts, which were layered with custard in the middle, rather than filled like we're used to seeing at our donut chains. Inspired by the bakery, I thought I'd give this unique take on donuts a go. They are beautiful and delicious, and honestly, not that hard to make!

These layered donuts were inspired by what I saw at a bakery I visited in Panama.

Cake donut holes make perfect party food.

Basically, you can use any recipe for donuts, custard and icing, and the recipes I used are below. I prefer a true donut recipe, where you fry the dough. I didn't have a donut-shaped cutter, but found that a round cookie cutter and a plastic cap (washed well) from one of my hair products did the trick for making the hole in the center. Then you simply use a bread knife to slice the cooled donut in half like a bagel, spread a layer of custard in the center and make a "donut sandwich." Frost the donuts (I used a sour cream ganache recipe) and decorate, and these will definitely give cupcakes a run for their money!

The filling and donut dough needed to chill for a few hours, so I made them both the night before and then the donuts just took about 30-45 minutes to prepare the next morning, including the time needed to make the ganache. I have to say the custard filling turned out to be so good, I will probably make that more often, just to eat on its own! And I'll probably use these custard and ganache recipes in the future to make a "Boston Cream Trifle." If you use the recipes below, you'll end up with about 10-12 donuts. Note you will only need about half the custard recipe and half the icing recipe to use with the donuts. 

CAKE DONUTS (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book, 1998)


  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Cooking oil for frying


  1. In a large mixing bowl combine 2 1/4 cups of the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. 
  2. In medium mixing bowl combine milk and melted butter.
  3. In another large mixing bowl combine eggs, 2/3 cup of the granulated sugar and vanilla; beat with electric mixer until thick. 
  4. Add the dry mixture and milk mixture alternately to egg mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Stir in remaining flour.
  5. Cover dough and chill for 2 hours.
  6. Turn dough out on lightly floured surface, roll to 1/2-inch thickness and cut with donut (or cookie) cutter. 
  7. Fry donuts and donut holes (several at a time) in 375 degree oil about 1 minute on each side. Drain on paper towels.



  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Slowly bring first 5 ingredients to a boil over medium heat in a heavy saucepan, whisking constantly. Allow to boil one minute.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.
  3. Place in a bowl, cover with a lid (or plastic wrap) to keep "skin" from forming.
  4. Chill 4 hours.
  5. Once chilled, you may want to beat with a mixer to smooth it out again.



  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Melt the chocolate chips using a double boiler or using the microwave, stirring occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove from heat.
  2. Whisk in the sour cream and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Use the icing immediately while still warm or reheat before using.