Archive for September, 2011


Mandarin Cream Muffins or Loaf Cake w/ Raspberry Squash Filling (Baked)

[ Equipment: oven or slow cooker with temperature control, 6 muffin cups (1/2 cup capacity) or a 5-3/4 x 3 x 2 (inch) loaf pan. For more information about the terminology in this recipe, see Low Temperature Baking: A Journey of 3 Paths ].

A dairy cream acts as the “liquid butter” in these streusel-topped cream muffins, the third in my series of Mandarin orange recipes. In many low temperature cake recipes, butter can result in a dry texture, possibly because the low heat doesn’t disperse the fat evenly. In the crumb of some butter cakes, it’s possible to see tiny greasy specks where the fat congealed in the batter. Low temperature cream cakes have less spotting than butter cakes, with a milky richness and a moistness like that of oil-based cakes.

I made 2 versions: muffins and a small loaf. They can have either a plain raspberry jam filling or a raspberry-squash filling. The jam-only filling melts and tends to soak into the cake as it bakes. The squash filling consists of a puree of spaghetti squash, flavored with raspberry jam, and has the silky texture of a raspberry paste. It’s prepared in a microwave oven, but could be made on the stovetop too.

A pulpy orange juice (homestyle) concentrates the orange flavor or try more Mandarin orange puree instead. Regular orange juice may be too watery, so add it one tablespoon at a time. I used a heavy whipping cream, but a light cream should be fine too with a slight loss in richness. Any mild squash like a butternut squash can substitute for the spaghetti squash. The raspberry jam will dominate the taste of the filling.

Makes 6 muffins

– 300 calories per muffin or 1800 calories per loaf
– Oven Temperature: 250°F/121°C


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mandarin orange zest (fresh preferred)
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, finely ground (see text)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon star anise powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup mandarin orange puree (one 2 oz. mandarin orange)
  • 1/8 cup orange juice (country-style, see text)
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry squash filling or raspberry jam (see text and see below)
  • 2 tablespoons streusel topping

Raspberry Squash Filling:

  • 1/4 cup spaghetti squash puree (3/8 cup spaghetti squash)
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry jam

Almond Streusel Topping (makes about 3/4 cup):

  • 1/4 cup rolled oats, chopped
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/8 cup baker’s coconut, chopped
  • 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoons mandarin orange zest

Method: Raspberry Squash Filling

1. Cook the spaghetti squash as desired (steaming, boiling or baking – I cut it in half, de-seeded and then microwaved it for 10 minutes). When cool, scoop out about 3/8 cup of squash flesh. With an immersion blender or in a food processor, puree the spaghetti squash. Measure out 1/4 cup of squash puree.

2. Put the squash puree in a microwave-safe dish. Heat the squash in a microwave on HIGH for about 20 seconds. Remove (dish may be hot) and stir to release steam. Repeat heating process until the puree has reduced to 3 tablespoons – 3 to 4 minutes total in an 800W microwave. The squash puree should be thick and an inserted spoon will stand.

3. Mix in the raspberry jam.

4. Return the mixture to the microwave and heat for 30 seconds on HIGH. Remove and stir to release steam. Repeat the heating process until the mixture has reduced to 3 tablespoons (about 4 minutes total in an 800W microwave). As before, a spoon inserted in the raspberry squash puree should stand.

Method: Muffins

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients until well combined.

2. Peel and puree one mandarin orange. Measure out 1/4 cup of the juice and pulp combined.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk all of the wet ingredients, including the fresh orange zest and orange puree, until combined.

4. Reserve 1/8 cup of the wet mixture. Add remaining wet mixture to the dry ingredients.

5. Stir until all the dry ingredients are moistened and form a thick batter. Work quickly, because the baking soda starts reacting on contact with the acidic ingredients. If the batter is too dry, add in the reserved wet mixture, one tablespoon at a time, until batter is adequately hydated. Do NOT overhydrate the batter. Most times, I find I don’t need the extra hydration at all.

6. Muffins: Grease muffin cups (1/4 cup capacity). Fill each cup with about 1-1/2 tablespoons of batter. In the picture above, those cups are actually mini brioche molds with steeply angled sides. Wider cups with perpendicular sides may require a little more batter to cover the bottom. Then place 1 teaspoon of the raspberry-squash filling (or raspberry jam) in the center.

Loaf Cake: Grease a small loaf pan (5-3/4 x 3 x 2 inches). Fill with half of the batter and spread evenly. Spoon in the raspberry-squash filling (or raspberry jam), leaving at least a 1/4 inch border around the sides.

7. Muffin: Divide the remaining batter into 6 portions. Cover each muffin with the remaining batter. Spread the batter to conceal any visible filling.

Loaf Cake: Spoon in the remaining batter and spread evenly to hide the filling.

8. Muffins: Sprinkle the top of each muffin with 1 to 2 teaspoons of the streusel mixture. Lightly press the streusel so that it sticks to the surface of the batter.

Loaf Cake: Cover the top of the loaf with streusel and lightly press down.

9. Muffins: Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the edges are lightly brown. Cool and serve.

Loaf Cake: Bake for 70 to 80 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool, unmold and serve.