St. John Bakery Doughnuts // Not Without Salt St. John Bakery Doughnuts // Not Without Salt

Friday Donut (or doughnut) Day! It started sometime last year with the simple act of Gabe picking up doughnuts on Friday and then repeating himself the next week. Just like that a tradition was born. Now we all expect it, crave it, look forward to it and appreciate Friday’s all the more because of it.

We’ve used it as a chance to tour Seattle via their doughnut scene, although truth-be-told we’ve mostly landed back to Top Pot because I’m weak for their Salted Caramel Old Fashioned.

It wasn’t until the start of this school year that I started making the doughnuts at home. Three weeks in and, get this, my kids are begging for the store bought kind.

Sorry kids, I’m making you doughnuts. These doughnuts in particular.

It was these very doughnuts that had Gabe and I making the long trek from our little hotel in Notting Hill to St. John Bread & Wine across the street from Spitalfields Market. I know we went at least twice and it’s quite possible there was a third visit. It was because of these doughnuts (thanks, Molly for the heads up) and the bacon sandwich.

They are a simple doughnut; soft, not very sweet and not complex in flavor but have a subtle bitter tang which I now know to be lemon zest. Like most good yeasted recipes the dough takes a sweet time rising and developing in flavor so there’s a very soft sourness. At St. John they filled them with lemon curd and – my favorite – custard. Although someone on Instagram tells me they now have butterscotch which blew my mind and had me pining for a trip back to London.

These doughnuts fueled our weekly fix last Friday and the one before that. The boys missed them warm from the fryer so to make up for it I served them as dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the middle along with a bit of chocolate sauce. I recommend that way too.

St. John Bakery Doughnuts // Not Without Salt St. John Bakery Doughnuts // Not Without Salt

St. John Bakery Doughnuts

This recipe comes from Justin Gellatly who perfected this recipe while working at St. John. He now has his own bakery and a cookbook,Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding: Sweet and Savoury Recipes from Britain’s Best Baker, which is high on my list of next purchases.

I changed the recipe subtly – used all-purpose in place of bread flour, added salt to the custard and switched it from grams to cups for those of you who don’t use a scale. If you want the original recipe it’s right here. 

The recipe makes about 20 doughnuts, so it’s safe to say that our neighborhood now celebrates Friday Doughnut Day.



4 cups flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

4 eggs

zest from 1/2 a lemon

3/4 cup water

1 stick butter, soft

oil (he recommends sunflower, I used vegetable) for frying

sugar, for tossing the doughnuts

2 cups milk

1 vanilla bean, seeds removed or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar

6 egg yolks

scant 1/2 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup heavy cream


For the doughnuts:

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 8min, or until the dough starts coming away from the sides and forms a ball. Turn off the mixer and let the dough rest for a minute.

Start the mixer up again on a medium speed and slowly add the butter to the dough, about 1 tablespoon at a time.

Once it is all incorporated, mix on high speed for 5 minutes until the dough is glossy, smooth and elastic when pulled.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to rise until it has doubled in size, about an hour. Knead the dough just briefly it to get the extra air out, then re-cover the bowl and put into the fridge to chill overnight.

The next day, take the dough out of the fridge and gently press it into a large rectangle about 1-inch thick. Cut the dough (I find a pizza wheel makes quick work of this) into 2 – 3 -inch squares. You should get about 20.

Roll the squares into smooth, taut, tight buns and place them on a greased baking tray, leaving plenty of room between them – you don’t want them to stick together while they prove. Cover lightly with cling film and leave for about 2-3 hours, or until about doubled in size.

Fill a large pot with 2-3 inches of oil leaving at least 5 inches of space from the top. Heat the oil to 360°F.

Carefully place a few doughnuts in the oil. Watch your oil temperature so that he remains right around 360°F. Don’t overcrowd the pan.

Fry about 2 minutes per side, until deep golden brown.

Remove the warm doughnuts to a bowl with sugar and shake until covered.

Repeat until all the doughnuts have been fried.


For the custard:

To make the custard, slit the vanilla pod open lengthways and scrape out the seeds. Put both pod and seeds into a heavy-based saucepan with the milk and bring slowly just to the boil, to infuse the vanilla. Meanwhile, place the egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl and mix together for a few seconds, then sift in the flour and mix again. Pour the just boiling milk over the yolk mixture, continuously whisking to prevent curdling, then return the mixture to the saucepan. Add the salt then cook over a medium heat, whisking constantly for about 5 minutes, until very thick.

Pass through a fine sieve, discarding the vanilla, and place a sheet of plastic wrap on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin forming. Leave to cool, then refrigerate.

Whip the cream and the 2 tablespoons of sugar together until thick but not over-whipped and fold into the chilled custard.

68 Responses to “St. John Bakery Doughnuts”

  1. Alexandra

    As someone who’s never been a fan of the traditional jam filled doughnuts, I was always sceptical that I’d find one I actually liked. In the St. John’s Bakery doughnuts, I haven’t found one I like…I have found one that I adore! It’s quite simply one of the most delicious, exquisite, luscious things I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating and the minute it was gone, I wanted another and another and another…one of those flawlessly perfect sweet treats that stays with you long after you’ve licked the sugar from your lips.

  2. molly yeh

    ohmygoodness i loooooove st. john!!!! how did i miss their donuts?! i must have been too enthralled in their eccles cakes :-O and i think i’d like to instate a donut day! that is a magnificent idea.

  3. jen

    I just had to comment and say that these doughnuts are absolutely gorgeous. I’ve never made donuts, but I want these to be my first try! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  4. Alana | Fix Feast Flair

    These remind me of malasadas and I’m a HUGE fan of those. Thanks for sharing–I am definitely bookmarking this for things to try in the very near future. P.S. Friday Donuts every Friday? So v v wonderful!!

  5. Julie

    Oh. My! I don’t know St. John, but I do know these are right straight up my alley. I may need to instigate doughnut day…

  6. Brian @ A Thought For Food

    So, a question: the salted caramel old fashioned is a doughnut? Or a cocktail? I mean, I’d take either, but I’m also thinking that it’d be amazing for a bakery to also have a bar that did pairings. Just sayin.
    I still have not tried making doughnuts… But gosh this looks incredible. And I knkw Eric would love it.

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Brian, is EVERYTHING a cocktail to you?! Just kidding. It’s a doughnut but really, I like the way you think. Let’s start the first ever doughnut/cocktail joint. It’d be a hit I’m sure.
      And poor poor Eric, never getting homemade doughnuts. Tell him to come here, I’ll make him doughnuts.

  7. Thea @ Baking Magique

    Your blog was the first food blog I ever read. I didn’t even know that food blogs existed when I first found yours a couple of years ago. Everything you do is amazing and this is not an exception. Love it! <3

  8. SeattleDee

    And I thought I didn’t crave donuts! If I start now we could celebrate Decadent Donut Saturday at home tomorrow… and make an emergency run to TopPot today.

  9. Kate @¡Hola! Jalapeño

    I’ve never seen a more beautiful donut. Ignore your kids, one day they’ll be telling all their friends (and definitely their own kids) how their mom used to make them donuts from scratch every Friday. And if they don’t want them, then I’ll surely take a few! 🙂

  10. Jess

    I just made these and they are absolutely amazing! Thank you so much! I’m a bit worried I’m going to polish the whole lot off before I get to share them though. I made a salted caramel crème patisserie to fill the doughnuts with as a slight change which brought them to another level.

  11. kristie @

    These look incredible! I can’t have gluten, so I might find a gluten free version I can make. Although, I am sure they would not be as good.
    Oh, and that last photo is stunning!

  12. laura

    Oh wow these look delicious, i had some amazing salted caramel custard doughnuts recently – they were to die for

  13. Katy

    Hi Ashley! These look absolutely phenomenal! I can’t wait to make them this weekend. One quick question–do you recommend active dry, instant or fresh yeast for this recipe?

  14. Kay

    Oh glorious beauties!
    Is there any way to make these without a stand mixer, oh pretty please? I’m willing to get down and dirty with my hands-but I know sometimes its simply just near impossible.

  15. Page

    these look really lovely! Is there any way to make them the day of? I’m visiting for thanksgiving day and I’m in charge of the desserts. I would love to make these but I’m not sure there’s enough time 🙁

  16. Avriq

    I’m willing to get down and dirty with my hands.I visit your blog regularly to get new things like this. Thank you

  17. Nandita

    this is yum my saliva is just spreading everywhere in my mouth after watching this!
    Thanks ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ for the amazing recipe. Keep sharing!