Justin Gellatly is the genius behind those doughnuts from St John’s bakery. I was lucky enough to take part in one of his baking classes at the bread ahead bakery in Borough and can confirm that his book  “bread, cake, doughnut, pudding” is well worth getting hold of.  I decided to try my hand at making his superlative doughnuts, and as someone who doesn’t really have much of a sweet tooth, I can tell you that these were nothing short of VERY NICE INDEED.
Warning 1. – This does take a while. There’s a bit of overnight proving and messing about with hot oil and I doubt I’d have bothered if I didn’t have a kitchenaid mixer. I didn’t make the filling as the doughnuts were so very moreish unadorned.
Warning 2.  Don’t try and be clever and rise them in a muffin tray as I did in the photo above, as they will aerate a lot more than you anticipate and when you try to remove them they will deflate horribly.  A flat, well floured surface is what you need.

To save me from scoffing the lot, my husband took them to his office and it looks like the Transferwise team had a pretty good time with them too.




makes about 20 doughnuts (about 1 kg dough)
prep time 45 mins. plus proving and overnight chilling
cooking time – 4 mins. per doughnut, fried in batches, about 30-40 mins. in total
500g strong white bread flour
60g caster sugar
10g fine sea salt
15g fresh yeast, crumbled
4 eggs
zest of 1/2 lemon
150g water
125g softened unsalted butter
about 2 litres sunflower oil, for deep frying
caster sugar
  • Put all the dough ingredients apart from the butter into the bowl of an electric mixer with a beater attachment and mix on a medium speed for 8 minutes, or until the dough starts coming away from the sides and forms a ball.
  • Turn off the mixer and let the dough rest for 1 minute. Take care that your mixer doesn’t overheat – it needs to rest as well as the dough!
  • Start the mixer up again on a medium speed and slowly add the butter to the dough- about 25g at a time. Once it is all incorporated, mix on high speed for 5 minutes, until the dough is glossy, smooth and very elastic when pulled, then cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to prove until it has doubled in size. Knock back the dough, then re-cover the bowl and put into the fridge to chill overnight.
  • The next day, take the dough out of the fridge and cut it into 50g pieces (you should get about 20). Roll them into smooth, taut, tight buns and place them on a floured baking tray, leaving plenty of room between them as you don’t want them to stick together while they prove. Cover lightly with clingfilm and leave for about 4 hours, or until doubled in size.
  • Get your deep fat fryer ready, or get a heavy-based saucepan and fill it up to the half-way point with rapeseed oil (please be extremely careful as hot oil is very dangerous). Heat the oil to 180C.
  • When the oil is heated to the correct temperature, carefully remove the doughnuts from the tray by sliding a floured pastry scraper underneath them, taking care not to deflate them, and put them into the oil. Do not overcrowd the fryer – do 2-3 per batch, depending on the size of your pan. Fry for 2 minutes on each side until golden brown – they puff up and float so you may need to gently push them down after about a minute to help them colour evenly. Remove from the fryer and place on kitchen paper, then toss them in a bowl of caster sugar while still warm. Repeat until all are fried, BUT make sure the oil temperature is correct every time before you fry – if it’s too high they will colour too quickly and burn, and will be raw in the middle and if it is too low the oil will be absorbed into the doughnut and it will become greasy. Set aside to cool before filling.
  • To fill the doughnuts, make a hole in the crease of each one (anywhere around the white line between the fried top and bottom). Fill a piping bag with your desired filling and pipe into the doughnut until swollen with pride. Roughly 20-50g is the optimum quantity, depending on the filling, cream will be less, because it is more aerated. You can fit in more than this, but it doesn’t give such a good balance of dough to filling.
  • The doughnuts are best eaten straight away, but will keep in an airtight tin and can be reheated to refresh them.


  1. These sound great. I need to get my doughnut recipe on my blog. But that would mean making them and eating them.

    • gastrogeek

      Yes, it’s a problem, albeit a delicious one. I just had to get them out of the house or there would definitely have been way too much guzzling going on round here

  2. 26peonies

    This is dangerous. I usually don’t make doughnuts because I don’t like the baked kind. Now I have no excuse.

    • gastrogeek

      I’m afraid to say you’re dead right. Dangerous is definitely the word. There’s really no going back once you’ve made them….(sorry)

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