Fun Lunch Idea: Baked Pear, Vanilla, & Spiced Donuts With Seeds and Fruit

A travel-friendly lunch recipe featuring a decadent baked good, excerpted from Aviva Wittenberg's new cookbook, Lunchbox

If you ever find yourself, as I often do every autumn, with an abundance of ripe, juicy pears, these baked donuts are for you! The sweet pear and gentle, warming spices taste delicious alongside a cup of tea mid-morning or as a sweet treat in your lunchbox. I use either Anjou or Bartlett pears but substitute with whatever you have on hand.

Baked Pear, Vanilla, & Spiced Donuts

Makes: 12 ( 4-inch) donuts
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Tip: These donuts can be made ahead and stored at room temperature for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.


  • 4 pears, peeled, cored and roughly chopped (see Note below)
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup buttermilk 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup melted butter, cooled
  • Icing sugar, for dusting

Note: Store leftover sauce in the fridge for up to 5 days and use as you would apple sauce. No time to make pear sauce? Substitute puréed pear from the baby-food aisle.


  1. Place the pears, ginger, cinnamon and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pears are soft. Remove the lid and continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Allow to cool. When cool, mash with a fork or masher to create a smooth sauce.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare your donut pan by spraying it with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of the pear sauce, with the buttermilk, egg, vanilla, and brown sugar and stir with a rubber spatula until the mixture is uniform. Add the flour, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and baking powder and stir until well combined.
  4. Pour the melted butter into the bowl and carefully fold it into the rest of the batter. It takes about a minute to integrate the butter, but it will mix in!
  5. Fill a piping bag with the donut batter and pipe it into the prepared pan. Fill each section about halfway. If you don’t have a piping bag, you can also spoon the batter into the pan. Bake the donuts for 12 to 15 minutes, or until firm to the touch and a sharp knife inserted into one comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then flip out onto a cooling rack and dust with icing sugar. Once cool, enjoy one and pack the rest.

Packing Tip: Tuck one of these indulgent donuts into your lunchbox for a sweet treat, or pack one with some sliced fruit (try apples and pears) for a tasty afternoon treat.

Lunchbox Cover

Excerpted from Lunchbox by Aviva Wittenberg. Copyright © 2022 Aviva Wittenberg. Photography © 2022 Aviva Wittenberg. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Next: Expert Tips for Packing Healthy, Fresh and Satisfying Lunches

Originally Published in Best Health Canada