Ricotta filled, orange scented doughnuts

Photographer: Kurt
Makes approx 20 doughnuts

Almost two years ago now, while travelling around southern Italy for a few weeks, we happened upon a small café in the town square of Catania, Sicily, with a counter stacked high with sweet treats. Choosing to forgo the famous cannoli, I bought the biggest doughnut I could find, and with my limited Italian didn’t realise until I bit into it that it was filled with this sweet, fragrant orange ricotta crème. Heaven!  It’s been in the back of my mind to recreate this experience ever since.

My interpretation are palm-sized and generously filled.  Light and fluffy, and sweetly scented, they require a little patience to create (two rounds of proofing), but are really rather simple to make. I made use of the very efficient stand mixers we have here in the cooking lab, but you could equally knead the dough by hand.



300g flour
50g caster sugar
Pinch salt
50g butter, melted
150ml milk
1 egg
16g (2 sachets) active dried yeast
1 vanilla pod, split and scraped
Zest of 1 orange
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Icing sugar for dusting

200g Ricotta
50g caster sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Zest and juice ½ orange
Zest ½ lemon


1. Sieve flour, caster sugar and salt into bowl of stand mixer.
2. In a separate bowl whisk together melted butter, milk, egg, yeast, vanilla and orange zest. It will be a little lumpy, that’s ok.
3. Use dough hook and with mixer running slowly, add the wet ingredients to the dry.
4. Turn speed up to medium and mix for 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
5. Turn the dough out onto a clean bench, shape into a ball and place in a lightly-oiled bowl. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to proof in a warm place for 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.
6. One risen, turn dough out onto clean, floured bench and roll out to 1 cm thick.
7. Use a cookie or pastry cutter to cut rounds approx. 7 cm in diameter. Transfer to a lined tray, cover and leave to proof again for 1-2 hours until well risen.
8. Heat 5-6 cm of oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Use a piece of leftover dough to test the oil – when dropped in, the dough should float and bubble rapidly.
9. Fry for just a minute or so each side (turning once), until deep golden and well puffed. Drain on paper towels.
10. Allow doughnuts to cool, split in half and fill with a generous spoonful of ricotta filling.
11. Dust with a little icing sugar before serving.

Place all ingredients into bowl of mixer and whip until light and fluffy and sugar is dissolved.
Refrigerate until required.