Sourdough doughnuts (Bomboloni)

sourdough doughnuts
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That title may sound a little wired to some of you, but I can guarantee that the end results will always be yummy. Yes! it is possible to make your favorite doughnuts using natural yeast (sourdough process). No, they will not be sour.

If you have already mastered making sourdough bread, then this process will be familiar to you. But if this is your first time, worry not! I will walk you through the whole process guiding you every step of the way. I have recently updated the recipe and the pictures, so this is going to be even simpler.

sourdough doughnuts

As a first step, we need to get the starter ready! So if you want to know more about the starter and how to get it ready, I have written a whole post dedicated to that single topic. I will be using a stiff starter (starter with less water, ratio of -> 1:5:10 starter:water:flour) for this new updated recipe. You can use your normal 100% hydrated starter too. In that case use 10-20g less milk.

Make your stiff starter the night before. Mix some of the mature starter with water and flour, knead to a smooth dough, cover and leave on the counter. If the kitchen is too cold, find a warm spot or leave in the coven (switched off, of course)

By the morning it will be ready! If it didn’t puff up, that means your kitchen temperature is too low ( <60°F). If so leave it in a warm place until puffed up.

Measure the flour (I used 50:50 all purpose and bread flour) and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Give a quick mix

Prepare other ingredients. Make sure milk and eggs are room temperature.

Add sugar to the flour and mix. Add the eggs, butter and vanilla to milk and mix.

Note: If you are new to baking and not familiar with handling a sticky dough, I suggest leaving 20-30g of milk aside and add it later if you feel confident

It is the moisture, sugar and fat in the recipe that makes these doughnuts light and soft. So if you leave out some milk it will affect the texture of the final product. But they will still taste good 🙂

sourdough donuts

Now add the wet in gradients into flour

Using a spatula, mix to hydrate everything

Break the stiff starter into pieces and add to the mixture.

If you are using normal liquid starter, you can add it with the wet ingredients

Use the dough hook and start mixing/kneading at speed 2 for about 2 minutes and then at 4 for about 6 minutes until an elastic dough is developed

sourdough donuts

Cover the bowl with a cling wrap and refrigerate for about 10 -15 minutes. Then mix on speed 2 for about 5 minutes until a strong, silky dough is developed. The dough will be a little sticky.

use flour to help releasing the dough from the sides of the bowl

Kneading will encourage gluten development and it will make the dough strong and elastic and less sticky. Refrigerating will stiffen the dough(butter hardens) and resting will relax gluten and help absorbing more water. This will further encourage dough development.

perform a few slap and folds to bring the dough together in to a smooth dough ball.

slap and fold technique

Lubricating your hands with oil or water will prevent the dough from sticking to your fingers. Handle the dough with just finger tips and not the palm. If you are worried about handling a sticky dough, you can grease the bench scraper and use that to gather the dough into a ball. Use a very light dusting of flour if necessary.

The surface of the dough shouldn’t be sticky anymore. If it still sticks, dust with a little flour and do a few more folds.

place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and leave in a warm spot (70°F-75°F) until doubled in size

Find creative ways to build your own proofing spot. Near the heating vent, a proof box or use the oven like I do.

Place a bowl of boiling water in the oven and place your dough on a rack above. Close the oven door. You will have to replace the boiling water every hour or so.

You can also warm the oven (be very careful and mindful) slightly

The dough will be doubled in about 4-5 hours. Punch down to lease all the air, place back in the bowl, cover and refrigerate until next day for the slow fermentation.

Same-day process

If you don’t want to ferment over night, you can skip this step and continue to make donuts on the same day. Still, it is a good idea to let the dough relax in the fridge for about an hour. This will stiffen the dough and it will be easier to roll out and cut out shapes.

The next day, when you are ready to continue, pull the dough from the fridge and let it warm up a little bit. It will be too stiff to roll out

Notice the dough has puffed up a little even in the fridge. That’s slow fermentation (slow proofing)

Get the dough onto a floured surface and start rolling out

Final thickness should be about 1/2 an inch. Could be less but not more.

chocolate (malt) doughnuts

Prepare a tray lined with a parchment. Dust the parchment with some flour.

Using a round cookie cutter cut out rounds and place on the prepared tray

Leave space between them so they won’t stick to each other. Cover lightly and place in a warm place until puffed up. In a warm place (70°F-75°F) they will be proofed in about 2-2.5 hours

Leftover dough can be reused. gather and knead to a dough ball. You can let this relax, roll out and cut out more donuts or make donut holes

donut holes

To make donut holes, divide into tiny pieces and roll into smooth balls. Place on a tray, cover and proof until puffed up.

proofed donut holes are ready to be fried

proofed donuts are ready for the fryer. Cut out the parchment like shown in the image so you can easily drop this to the hot oil.

If you try to remove the doughnut from the parchment, that could damage the dough. By cutting out the paper the doughnut will be intact. Place the doughnut side down in the oil and carefully peel off the parchment paper.

Heat a neutral oil to 320°F(160°C) in a 2-3 inch deep, wide pan(or pot) and fry the doughnuts in batches. Check the video <-

Roll the doughnut in cinnamon sugar while still warm

Leave to cool down. Fill them with any filling like strawberry jam, custard or chocolate spread

Fill the doughnuts with any filling. Jam, custard, lemon curd, nutella, ganache, caramel, pretty much anything works!


to make malted chocolate ganache:

250 g cream
250 g semi sweet chocolate
1/4 cup chocolate malt powder (Ovaltine)

Simply add 1/4 cup malt powder(Ovaltine) to the cream once boiled. Add the hot cream onto chopped up chocolate and stir until smooth. Refrigerate to thicken. You can whip this up for a fluffier texture.

Filled with malted ganache

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    1. That depends on The size and shape you cut out also the final thickness you roll out. I usually get about 12 – 16 medium sized ones

  1. Is it absolutely necessary to double the dough three times? Can we just proof until double, shape, proof again? Also what hydration is your starter? I halved the recipe and dough was super sticky despite using dough hook on kitchen aid stand, and adding up to extra 1/3 cup of flour.

    1. Not sure what you are referring to, but recipe says to double (bulk) once Step 9. And then we retard, shape and do final proofing before frying.
      A starter is always 100% hydrated, unless otherwise mentioned.
      This dough is sticky to start with. But resting and mixing will bring it together. I have explained this in detail in the post above the recipe.

    1. Mixed dough is sticky. Stickiness will reduce with time. After the bulk the dough will be smooth and not very sticky.
      Use a light dusting of flour when degasing, and shaping donuts

  2. As a seasoned sourdough baker of all types of baked goods-yet never made donuts with starter. Amazing doesn’t do justice to describe these donuts..Light, fluffy, slight sweet/tang flavor. Our family went wild. Thank you for a tremendous recipe and new all time favorite. What a skill and finesse you have-and thank you for sharing it.
    All my best to you!

    1. Thank you for the feedback! It’s always a pleasure to hear someone enjoyed one of my recipes.

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