Milk-Filled Donuts

Certainly, I’d be happy to tell you about the classic Italian milk-filled doughnuts known as bomboloni alla crema or bossolani.

Bomboloni are a beloved fried dough treat that originated in Tuscany, but are popular throughout Italy. They consist of a light, airy yeast-raised dough that is shaped into rounds and fried until golden brown. The name “bomboloni” means “little bombs” referring to their round, puffy shape.

The defining feature of a true bombolone is the filling injected into the center after frying. A simple pastry cream or crema pasticcera made from milk, sugar, eggs, and flavorings like vanilla or lemon zest is piped into the doughnut through a hole poked in the side. As you bite in, the luscious creamy filling oozes out deliciously.

Some versions are coated in granulated or powdered sugar after filling, while others have a simple glaze. Chocolate, custard, or ricotta fillings can also be used. But the classic is definitely the rich, vanilla-scented crema pasticcera.

Warm bomboloni are an irresistible morning or afternoon treat. The contrast of the crisp, oil-fried outer shell giving way to the tender, milky interior is simply heavenly. No wonder these cream-filled doughnuts are a staple at Italian festivals and celebrations!

While a bit labor-intensive, the process of making bomboloni from scratch is very rewarding. Just be prepared for the doughnuts to disappear quickly – it’s nearly impossible to eat just one!

Here is a recipe for classic Italian Milk-Filled Donuts (Bomboloni alla Crema):

Ingredients: For the Doughnuts:

  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 standard packet)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Vegetable oil for frying

For the Pastry Cream Filling:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Make the dough: Warm the milk to around 110°F. Stir in the yeast and 1 tbsp of the sugar until dissolved. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the remaining sugar, egg, butter and salt. Pour in the yeast mixture and stir. Gradually add the flour and knead into a smooth, elastic dough.
  3. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  4. Make the pastry cream: In a saucepan, whisk together the milk, sugar, cornstarch, salt and egg yolks. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap touching the surface and refrigerate until cooled completely.
  5. Roll out the risen dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into 3-inch rounds using a biscuit cutter.
  6. Fill a heavy bottomed pan with 2-3 inches of vegetable oil and heat to 350°F. Fry the dough rounds a few at a time for 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown.
  7. Drain the bomboloni on a paper towel-lined plate. Once slightly cooled, use a skewer or paring knife to poke a hole in the side of each one.
  8. Transfer the chilled pastry cream to a piping bag fitted with a narrow tip. Pipe the cream into the center of each doughnut until filled.
  9. Dust the bomboloni with powdered sugar or drizzle with a simple glaze if desired. Serve warm.

These light, airy bomboloni filled with rich vanilla pastry cream are the ultimate in Italian doughnut decadence! Buon appetito!