Bomboloni, or Florentine doughnuts, are the yeast doughnuts found in many a cafe. Simple to make, irresistible to eat, they make for a glorious dessert.

I dedicate this recipe to my good friends German and Leak Casati. German grew up in Florence and met his American wife, Leah, when she was studying there during college. Needless to say, they learned a thing or two about bomboloni, the yeast doughnuts found in many a Florentine café and pastry shop. When I featured these on the menu at Babbo, German and Leah pronounced them the best bomboloni they had ever had, which considering their vast experience with these little nuggets of love, I’d say is a compliment.–Gina DePalma

Florentine Doughnuts with Vanilla Custard

Bombolini | Florentine Doughnuts

5 from 1 vote
When I featured these on the menu at Babbo, German and Leah pronounced them the best bomboloni they had ever had, which considering their vast experience with these little nuggets of love, I'd say is a compliment.
Servings20 to 25 servings
Calories337 kcal
Prep Time1 hour 25 minutes
Cook Time2 hours 10 minutes
Total Time3 hours 35 minutes


For the vanilla custard

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 12 large egg yolks
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

For the bomboloni

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 5 teaspoons (2 packages) active dry yeast (not fast-rising)
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus more for kneading
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 large eggs
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter well softened
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
  • Vanilla Custard for dipping


Make the vanilla custard

  • Pour the milk and cream into a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise, then scrape the seeds with the blunt side of a small knife and add them to the pan along with the bean and vanilla extract. Add a 1/2 cup of the sugar and place the pan over medium heat.
  • Meanwhile, place the egg yolks in a large bowl. Whisk in the remaining 1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon sugar, followed by the salt and cornstarch. When the milk mixture comes to a boil, remove the pan from the heat. Slowly pour some of the mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Add the rest of the hot liquid to the eggs, whisking constantly, then transfer the mixture back to the saucepan and place it over low heat. Keep whisking it to prevent the custard from scorching or overcooking.
  • When the custard has thickened somewhat, remove it from the heat and strain it through a chinois or fine-meshed sieve into a bowl. Place the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water to chill it, whisking occasionally as the custard cools. Press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate the custard in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Make the bomboloni

  • Place the warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of the granulated sugar and stir to dissolve the yeast. Set the bowl aside and allow the yeast to proof until foamy, about 4 minutes.
  • Place the milk in a small saucepan or a microwaveable container and heat until warm to the touch.
  • Place the all-purpose flour, cake flour, remaining 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, the salt, and spices in the bowl of an electric mixer and use the paddle attachment to combine them thoroughly. Make a well in the center of the bowl and add the yeast mixture, warm milk, and eggs. Beat on medium until a smooth dough forms. Beat in the butter, then remove the paddle and replace with the dough hook, and beat in enough additional flour on low speed to make a smooth, soft, somewhat elastic dough. Switch to medium speed and mix for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Turn the dough into a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm, draft-free spot and allow the dough to rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
  • Gently deflate the dough by pulling it from the sides of the bowl and turn it onto a floured surface. Pat or roll the dough to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. Using a fluted or plain-edged round cutter 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter, cut the doughnuts. Place them on a baking sheet dusted with flour and cover them with plastic wrap. Allow them to proof while you heat the oil.
  • Heat 6 inches (4 to 6 cups) olive oil to 360°F (182°C) in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Fry the doughnuts in batches, 4 or 5 at a time, in the hot oil, gently turning them until they are golden brown on both sides and cooked in the center.
  • Drain the doughnuts on paper towels. While they are still warm, sprinkle them generously with confectioners’ sugar on both sides. The bomboloni are best served warm, with Vanilla Custard alongside for dipping.
Dolce Italiano by Gina DePalma

Adapted From

Dolce Italiano

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Serving: 1 bomboloni with custardCalories: 337 kcalCarbohydrates: 39 gProtein: 9 gFat: 16 gSaturated Fat: 9 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 5 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 187 mgSodium: 389 mgPotassium: 129 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 9 gVitamin A: 652 IUVitamin C: 1 mgCalcium: 71 mgIron: 2 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2007 Gina DePalma. Photo © 2007 Gentl & Hyers. All rights reserved.


Originally published January 27, 2007

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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