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Celebrate the holidays with a warm of warm freshly baked gingerbread pear donuts! These powdered donuts are studded with sweet pear and flavored with gingerbread spices for a wonderful holiday treat.
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What makes this recipe special
I'm not sure why but this year I'm obsessed with ginger desserts. I know there are lots of people who dislike ginger but I strongly believe that with the correct amounts, it can be quite delightful. Take these gingerbread pear donuts for example. There's a good amount of ground ginger in the batter but pair it with other warm spices, fresh pears, and pear cider and you get one outstanding treat. These donuts are baked but still incredibly light and fluffy. Coat them with powdered sugar and try not to eat them all!
Last year I tried to make a baked donut recipe and gave up after several tries. No matter what I tried, the texture just couldn't compare to fried ones. What can I say? I love my fried donuts. For some reason, I decided to give them another try this year, attempting to create light fluffy donuts. Most baked donuts I've tried are like a dense cake - I wanted the complete opposite. Many, many tries later and here we are! These gingerbread pear donuts taste exactly how I imagined them, fluffy, light, and not overly sweet.
- Pear cider: The sparkling pear cider adds a fruity, pear flavor to the donuts. If pear cider is unavailable, you can use apple cider as a substitute. This will still impart a fruity flavor to the donuts.
- Spices: We're using a combination of warm spices including cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, and cloves to bring the gingerbread flavor.
- Molasses: A thick, dark syrup made from sugarcane. I used Grandma's dark molasses
- for this recipe.
- Buttermilk: The dairy helps to create a tender, moist donut. If you don't have buttermilk, you can make a substitute by adding ½ tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to regular milk and letting it sit for a few minutes until it thickens.
- Pears: Baking pears like Bosc, Anjou, Bartlett, or Comice are suitable for this recipe. They hold up well during baking and provide a sweet, juicy flavor.
- Powdered sugar: The fine sugar adds a finishing sweet touch to the donuts. You can skip the powdered sugar if you want a less sweet donut.
How to make gingerbread pear donuts
Step 1: Reduce pear cider
Luckily, these donuts are pretty easy to make. We first have to start by reducing pear cider. To infuse the donuts with a touch more sweetness and pear flavor, we're going to boil pear cider until thickened. Keep an eye on the cider because it can burn if you reduce it too much.
If you can't find pear cider, you can use apple cider instead. It'll taste slightly different than the original recipe but not by much.
Step 2: Make donut batter
Next, combine all of the dry ingredients for the donut batter including all of the spices, flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk together the oil with brown sugar, add the wet ingredients, then stir in the dry mix.
Peel and finely chop enough fresh pear to get ½ cup. Make sure to chop the pear into very small pieces if you're making mini-donuts. If you're making regular-sized donuts, you can cut them a bit bigger.
I used a Bosc pear for my gingerbread pear donuts but you can also use Anjou or Bartlett pears as well.
To make life easier, transfer the donut batter to a piping bag and pipe the batter into your mini donut pan. It just makes it cleaner than trying to spoon the batter into the pan.
Step 3: Bake
Bake the mini-donuts for 7-8 minutes or until puffed and browned. For regular donuts, you want to bake them longer, about 13-15 minutes.
Let the gingerbread pear donuts cool for a couple of minutes before tossing them in the powdered sugar. If you toss them in the sugar right out of the oven, the sugar will just melt away. If you wait until they've cooled completely, the sugar might not stick to the donuts.
Serve these donuts warm for the best-tasting experience. Since these treats are moist, they are best eaten the day of. If you happen to have any leftovers the next day, pop them in the microwave for a couple of seconds and toss them in a fresh coat of powdered sugar. They'll be sweeter but still delicious!
Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can use regular-sized donut pans, but the baking time will need to be increased to 13-15 minutes. Keep an eye on them and bake until they are puffed and golden brown.
Reducing the pear cider intensifies its flavor, adding a more concentrated pear taste to the donuts.
While you can substitute whole wheat flour, keep in mind that it may result in a denser texture. You can try using half whole wheat and half all-purpose flour for a balance.
Store the donuts in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you want to freeze them, place them in a single layer in a freezer-safe container, separating layers with parchment paper. Thaw at room temperature when ready to enjoy.
More holiday desserts
Looking for more holiday treats? Try these:
Gingerbread Pear Donuts
- 1 cup pear cider (250 ml)
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (185 grams)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup brown sugar (50 grams)
- ¼ cup molasses (70 grams)
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup buttermilk (125 ml)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup pears, peeled and finely chopped (85 grams)
- 2 cups powdered sugar (260 grams)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a mini donut pan with cooking spray.
- Heat 1 cup pear cider in a small saucepot over high heat. Bring to a boil and continue to boil until reduced to ¼ cup, about 8-10 minutes. Let cool completely.
- Combine the flour with cinnamon, ground ginger, salt, baking powder, baking soda, ground nutmeg, and ground cloves in a medium bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil with brown sugar until well combined. Add the molasses, egg, buttermilk, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of the reduced cider, whisking until well combined. Add the flour mixture, mixing just until combined. Stir in the chopped pears and transfer the donut batter to a piping bag.
- Fill the prepared donut pan with the batter. Bake the donuts for 7-8 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 2 minutes.
- Pour the powdered sugar into a large mixing bowl or paperbag. Working with a couple donuts at a time, toss the donuts in the powdered sugar, coating all sides. Repeat with the remaining donuts. Serve warm.