I often have a canister of Bird's Custard Powder in the house because British recipes sometimes require it. But I don't use custard powder very often, so from time to time I will inevitably come across a neglected container of custard powder in the cabinet and try to figure out how I can put it to use. Which is why I decided to make Benjamina Ebuehi's recipe for "Nutmeg Custard Cake Doughnuts" from The New Way to Cake. I think a lot of Americans might assume that a "custard doughnut" is a doughnut filled with creamy custard, like a Boston cream. While these doughnuts have custard powder in both the batter and the glaze, there is no actual custard to be found in the final product.
I hate frying (I love fried food; it's just the actual act of frying I find to be messy and a hassle) and I'm a big fan of baked doughnuts. Benjamina says that the recipe is "inspired by the flavors of a nostalgic British favorite: an egg custard tart." I'm familiar with Asian egg custard tarts and Portuguese ones, but I've never had the British version. But nutmeg is a common ingredient in a typical cake doughnut, so I wasn't expecting the end result to be anything too unfamiliar.
The batter comes together quickly. You combine all of the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, custard powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and grated nutmeg) in one bowl; combine all of the liquid ingredients (eggs, milk, vanilla, melted butter, and oil) in other; and add the wet into the dry. The recipe suggests transferring the batter to a piping bag to fill a greased doughnut pan, but the batter was quite runny and I found it easier to just spoon it in instead. I have pans to make both regular-sized doughnuts and mini ones, so I baked both sizes.
The doughnuts popped right of of the pans after baking. I let them cool completely on a rack before dipping the tops in a glaze made from powdered sugar, custard powder, melted butter, vanilla, and milk. The final garnish was a light dusting of freshly grated nutmeg. I made these doughnuts in the evening and tasted one right after the glaze set; it was delicious. It had a lovely vanilla flavor with just the right touch of nutmeg, was not overly sweet, and had an incredibly tender, velvet soft texture. Also, when freshly applied, the glaze was shiny and pristine. I took the photo above the morning after baking, and by that time the glaze had settled a bit into a slightly pebbled texture that was not as attractive. But even a second-day doughnut tasted fantastic.
So whether you're trying to recreate the flavor of a British egg custard tart or not, I highly recommend these doughnuts. They are so easy to make and provide a lot of satisfaction for very little effort.
Recipe: "Nutmeg Custard Cake Doughnuts" from The New Way to Cake by Benjamina Ebuehi.
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- "Out of the Frying Pan, Baked Goods Inspire: Pumpkin Cake Doughnuts," October 31, 2012.
- "Baked Sunday Mornings: Farm Stand Buttermilk Doughnuts," January 16, 2011.