I'm not a big fan of deep-fried food and try to avoid it as much as possible. I have very few recipes that require deep-frying. However, there are some foods where it is the only way to go if you want to experience the true traditional treat, in all its delicious glory. This Cherry Filled Donut Holes (Ponchiki) recipe is one of them and is absolutely worth it. They are very similar to the age-old, traditional Belyashi (or Pirozhki) recipe which is the savory version but just as irresistible.
This bite-size pillow-soft, donut-like dessert is actually super easy to make. The only part that can be a little tricky is working with boiling oil. It may be slightly intimidating at first, but only until you get the hang of it. The recipe consists of very few ingredients that most likely are already in your pantry (besides the filling). There are many different types of recipes and variations for making ponchiki, but I think this dough goes best with some type of sweet filling.
Who loves cherry-picking season as much as we do at our house? Because cherry-picking season also means that a delicious batch of ponchiki is just around the corner. And if the cherries don't all disappear, there's a good chance ponchiki will make another appearance very soon.
Most of the time there's plenty of cherries to freeze, so I usually make this ponchiki recipe with the cherries that I froze from the previous harvest season. And as always, they turn out fluffy soft. Chewy on the inside and a little crispy on the outside with a cherry filling that makes this dessert irresistible.
Until... you take a good bite into the pit...ouch! Just joking. Simply give your guests the little "pit disclaimer," or pit the cherries and all is well in the sweet world of ponchiki. They disappear from the bowl as quickly as I make them. I have a hard time eating just one, myself.
You can also switch up the filling pretty much with any other fruit or sweet filling in these donut holes and it will still turn out great because the dough is fantastic! Another absolutely delicious variation that I love to use is homemade farmer's cheese. But whatever suits your sweet tooth, my friend. I hope you love these as much as we do. Enjoy!
📋 Recipe Ingredients
- Pinch of sea salt
- Active dry yeast
- Extra light olive oil
- Fresh (or frozen) cherries
🔪 Recipe Instructions
How to Make Cherry Filled Donut Holes
In a medium saucepan add water, sugar, a pinch of sea salt, and oil.
Bring it to a boil, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool; the mixture must return to room temperature before adding yeast.
Sprinkle yeast over the mixture and stir until it's completely dissolved (the liquid will become tannish-gray in color).
Pour the mixture into the electric mixer bowl. Sift half of the flour and stir it in with a dough attachment (you may also do this with a wooden spoon if you are working by hand).
Add the rest of the flour and let the mixer stir it into a nice and smooth consistency. It takes about 5 minutes to thoroughly mix in the rest of the flour.
Place the dough into a warm place to rise for about 2 hours or until the dough triples in size.
While the dough is rising remove the stems and rinse well cherries.
If you're using frozen cherries I recommend rinsing them as well since they are usually not rinsed before freezing.
How to Shape Ponchiki
Grease your hands with a tiny bit of oil and form a piece of dough around a cherry into a nice little 1.5” ball. Place the ball onto a cutting board or other flour-dusted working surfaces.
Start by flattening the dough about half-inch think, place a cherry in the middle, fold the dough over the cherry as evenly as possible, pinch together the ends, and then roll it into a nice round shape. Place them on a plate in line to the deep-frying pot. (I like to make about 15 ponchiki at a time, then fry them. While these are frying, there's time to make another batch to fry.)
🌡️ Frying Time
How to Deep Fry Cherry Filled Donut Holes
Heat the oil temperature for deep frying until it reaches 350 F. Add about 15 donut holes, all in the same batch. Deep fry for about 2 minutes per side. Remove fried ponchiki onto prepared cooling rack or strainer.
Let ponchiki cool for about 5 minutes or so.
Dust with powdered sugar.
Serve and enjoy with a glass of cold milk or a delicious cup of homemade latte.
📖 Recipe Card
Cherry Filled Donut Holes (Ponchiki)
- 500 ml – water
- ½ cup – sugar
- Pinch of sea salt
- ½ tbsp. – active dry east
- ½ cup – extra light olive oil + 35 oz. for frying
- 5 ½ cups - all-purpose flour (I used organic flour)
- 2 lbs. - fresh cherries (or frozen)
How to Make Cherry Filled Donut Holes
- Into a medium saucepan add water, sugar, and oil.
- Bring it to a boil stirring constantly. Set aside to cool. The water-oil-sugar mixture must be at room temperature before you add yeast.
- Sprinkle yeast and stir until completely dissolves (the water will be tannish/grayish in color).
- Pour the liquid into a bowl of an electric mixer. Sift half of the flour and stir the flour in with a dough attachment (you can stir it with a wooden spoon if you don’t have this type of mixer).
- Add the rest of the flour and let the mixer do its job. It takes about 5 minutes to mix in the rest of the flour.
- Place the dough into a warm place to rise for about 2 hours or until the dough triple in size.
- While the dough is rising remove the stems and rinse well cherries.
- If you're using frozen cherries I do recommend rinsing them as well since they weren't rinsed before freezing.
How to Shape Ponchiki (Cherry Filled Donut Holes)
- Grease your hands with a tiny bit of oil and shape each dough filled with cherry into a ball about 1.5” in size. Place the ball onto the cutting board or working surface.
- Make the ball flat about half-inch think, place the cherry in the middle, fold the dough, pinch the ends, and then roll it into a ball again. Place them on the plate (make about 15 ponchiki, then fry them, while they are frying you have time to make another batch to fry).
How to Fry Cherry Filled Donut Holes
- Heat oil temperature for deep frying should be around 350 F. Add about 15 donut holes to the oil in one batch, and fry for about 2 minutes per side. Remove fried ponchiki onto prepared cooling rack or strainer.
- Let ponchiki cool for about 5 minutes or so.
- Dust with powdered sugar.
💭 Storing Tips
You may store ponchiki in an airtight container for a couple of days. Reheat in the toaster oven before serving.
- Easy Belyashi Recipe - Pirozhki
- Sweet Buns with Fresh Cherry Filling (Piroshki)
- Sweet Farmers Cheese and Strawberry Braid
- Easy Poppy Seed Roll Recipe
- Sweet Swirl Apple Buns
See all desserts.
This recipe was originally posted on January 5th, 2015 (original picture above). I tweaked it a bit since then like using a good quality ingredient and frying oil. This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure.