Naturally-leavened bomboloni (Doughnuts)

My quest for airy, light, and less tangy Bomboloni or Doughnuts is over! 🤗 These Bomboloni are rolled in cinnamon sugar then filled with Nutella are insanely delicious and make such a special weekend treat! I use a 100% sweet sourdough starter for this recipe, and I made my video tutorial as detailed as possible to help you make the recipe. 😊

Bomboloni is an Italian doughnut, and after many failed attempts, I finally nailed it. This Bomboloni recipe is made with 100% sourdough and filled with Nutella or vanilla cream custard. Light and airy doughnuts in every bite!

If you have tried my Berliner Doughnuts recipe before, then this naturally-leavened Bomboloni recipe might seem familiar. This version might seem like a lot of work, but the final product makes these doughnuts well worth the effort. Here is the link for the recipe and procedure – Homemade Berliner Doughnut; if you want to try my yeasted doughnut recipe first.

My baking schedule

Because this Bomboloni uses a 100% starter, you will want to plan a bit. This recipe calls for many hours of rising time.


  • 8:00 am – 4:00 pm: Build the sweet starter
  • 4:00 pm – 4:30 pm: Make the dough
  • 4:30 pm – 10:30pm: Bulk fermentation
  • fra 10:30pm: Cold retard


  • 4:00 pm: Divide the dough into small portions
  • 4:20 pm: Bulk the Bomboloni dough until it tripled in volume


  • 1:00 pm: It’s frying time. 😊

My not so fancy proofing area

I’m living in a cold country, Denmark. Finding the perfect area for my dough to rise is sometimes very difficult, especially when baking bread and pastry with sourdough because it is sensitive to temperature. So, I decided to place my Sourdough Bomboloni inside my oven (lights off) and wait until the dough tripled in volume. I also use my thermometer so that I can see the temperature inside my oven.

How I determine when my Bomboloni is ready for frying

I am using an aliquot jar to gauge bulk fermentation. I took a small portion of my main dough, about 10g, and placed it into a small jar or container with straight sides. Make sure to pressure the dough firmly into the bottom of the jar to eliminate any air pockets. Once it tripled in volume, I started frying my Bomboloni. 😊

For 11 to 12 Sourdough Bomboloni, you will need:

For the sweet levain

  • 20 grams sweet sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 10 grams granulated white sugar
  • 40 grams water
  • 40 grams bread flour

For the Bomboloni dough

  • 100 grams sweet sourdough starter
  • 100 grams egg (approx. 2 medium-sized eggs), cold from the fridge
  • 45 grams water or whole milk
  • 250 grams bread flour
  • 40 to 50 grams granulated white sugar
  • 6 grams fine salt
  • 60 grams unsalted butter, softened and cut into small cubes

Procedure (video):

Prepare your levain: First, build the sweet levain. Combine all the ingredients, cover, and let ferment at room temperature until ready.

Making the dough and bulk fermentation

Making the dough: Once the starter or levain is ready, add the starter, eggs, milk, flour, sugar, and salt to a stand mixer bowl. Using a dough hook or flat beater, mix the ingredients for 1 minute until no dry flour is left. Cover and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes. While the dough is resting, check your butter for how much it has softened. It should be pliable enough to show an indent when lightly pressed with a finger but should not be fully melted. Use a dough hook and remix the dough for 5 minutes, then slowly add the butter, small chunks at a time, allowing the dough to absorb the butter before adding the next butter chunk. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes.

Room temperature bulk fermentation: Transfer the dough into a lightly greased bowl or container, cover, and allow the dough to ferment for 6 hours at room temperature (24C / 75F). After 1 hour, air fold the dough, cover, and let the dough rest for 2 hours. Next, stretch and fold the dough. Cover then let the dough rest undisturbed for 3 hours.

Cold temperature bulk fermentation: After the last fold, allow the dough to rest in the fridge for 12 to 18 hours. My fridge temperature is 5C / 41F.

Dividing, shaping, and proofing Bomboloni

The next day, prepare two baking trays with clipped baking paper and dust them liberally with flour.

Divide and shape: Divide the dough into 11 to 12 pieces, about 50 grams each. Shape the dough pieces into small balls and place them with the closure downwards, with a sufficient distance between them, on the prepared baking trays. 

Proof: Cover the tray with plastic film for 18 to 20 hours (23C / 73F) or until they are tripled in size. But still, check your dough from time to time because many factors will determine the length of time. After the proofing time, the Bomboloni should almost double or triple in size, be very light and puffy, and be delicate to touch as they are full of air.

Frying Bomboloni

Put enough oil in a large pan or deep fryer and bring maximum heat to 180C / 356F. While the oil is heating, you can place the fully-proofed dough in the fridge to make it a little firmer and easier to transfer between the trays and the oil.

Fry: Once the oil is ready, carefully drop the Bomboloni dough in the pan. Fry 2 minutes per side, or fry until slightly golden. Wooden sticks are ideal for turning. Watch the video tutorial to see how I fry my doughnuts. After frying, use a slotted spoon, remove the Bomboloni from the oil, and drain well on the kitchen paper. Repeat the same frying method until you have fried all your doughnuts.

If desired, you can coat the Bomboloni with cinnamon sugar and fill them with vanilla cream.


  • I use a 100% sweet sourdough starter for this recipe, and I made my video tutorial as detailed as possible to help you make the recipe. 😊
  • Be sure not to end the proofing process too soon.
  • Try not to overcrowd the pan when frying, as the oil will cool down when you add more dough.
  • Drain the fried Bomboloni on kitchen paper for about 2 minutes, then roll in sugar while still warm.
  • Wait until the Bomboloni are cooled before filling them.

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