Archive for the 'muffins & scones' Category


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.


Guava Pumpkin Muffins (Baked)

[ Equipment: oven or slow cooker with temperature control. For more information about the terminology in this recipe, see Low Temperature Baking: A Journey of 3 Paths ].

Flecked with bits of jellied guava, these moist, moist muffins pack fruity explosions in every bite. The guava paste had been sitting in my refrigerator for over a month, left over from another recipe, so I fashioned a muffin recipe for it. Online, there are few pastry recipes containing guava paste; it’s mostly served as a condiment with cheeses, spread on bread like a jam or as a filling for cookies. Instead of a muffin with a guava filled center, I mixed the paste into the batter but left tiny chunks of it undissolved.

Guava paste tastes like a mixture of apples and pears with the consistency of a very firm jelly. It’s also very sweet. To tone down the sugar and fruitiness, I combined the guava paste with pumpkin puree and then put in a little lemon flavoring to restore the citrus bite. These muffins have no eggs, because the pectin in the guava paste binds the ingredients just fine without them.

My local market shelves guava paste the in Mexican foods aisle. Guava jam could substitute, but may lack the intense flavor of the paste. An apple-pear jam might also substitute, although the flavor balance may not be a perfect match. Taste the batter with any of these substitutions and adjust the sugar, acid and spices accordingly.

Makes 6 muffins
– 210 calories per muffin
– Oven Temperature: 250°F/121°C

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bakers 5-spice or harvest spice or any pumpkin spice
  • 1/8 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3/8 cup guava paste
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup milk (low fat or regular)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts or 18 chocolate chips

Muffin Method:

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

2. In a small heatproof bowl, microwave the guava paste until soft – about 20 to 30 seconds in an 800W microwave.

3. Stir the pumpkin puree into the softened guava paste until well combined. The guava paste does not have to be completely dissolved into the pumpkin. I like to leave small bits of guava paste (no larger than 1/8 inch diameter) in the mixture. They will bake up in the muffins like little dots of jelly.

4. Mix in the oil and milk.

5. Pour the guava-pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture and stir to form a stiff batter. Do not overmix.

6. Grease 6 muffin cups (1/4 cup capacity). Divide the batter evenly into the mufffin cups.

7. Sprinkle the muffins with chopped walnuts or decorate them with 3 chocolate chips each (only 3 chips so that the chocolate doesn’t compete with the other flavors). Lightly press the walnuts or chips into the batter. Bake the muffins in a preheated 250°F/121°C oven for about 40 minutes or until the edges of the muffins are lightly browned.

8. Cool the muffins on a rack for about 15 minutes. Unmold and continue to cool. If the bottoms of the muffins are very moist, I recommend cooling them upside-down so that extra moisture evaporates faster.

9. Plate and serve.


Cherry Cordial M&M Muffins (Baked)

[ Equipment: oven or slow cooker with temperature control. For more information about the terminology in this recipe, see Low Temperature Baking: A Journey of 3 Paths ].

One of my local markets cleared out its holiday candies at 75% off, and I purchased a couple of 9-oz. bags of Cherry Cordial M&Ms for 75 cents each! I have not put candies into baked goods before (not on VaporBaker anyway), but these were so delicious that I wanted a way to savor them in mouth longer than the second or two it took to chew and swallow them. I put them into muffins and flavored the batter to enhance the Cherry Cordial flavors.

Because the M&Ms are fairly heavy as an ingredient (about the size of peanut M&Ms), I chose a base recipe with a stiff batter to support them. The batter for Joy Of Baking’s Buttermilk Berry Muffins could be described as either a very soft dough or a very thick batter with the buoyancy to float marbles. In low ovens, less moisture in the batter also means faster baking.

The main flavors in cherry cordial candies are cherries, chocolate and almonds (from the cooked cherry pits). Of the 3, the almond flavor is the most subtle, so I put the Cherry Cordial M&Ms in an almond batter. I changed out the vanilla extract for almond extract and added a portion of almond meal for flavor and to give the muffin texture more bite.

In this recipe, the M&Ms sit atop the batter. I did make a batch with the M&Ms inside the batter, but the candy shell on the M&Ms melted into a reddish mess. The candy shell contained the cordial flavors, which faded when the shell dissolved. Putting the candies on top of the muffins preserved the flavors better, but that portion of the shell touching batter still melted, surrounding each of the candies with a red or brown halo.

If Cherry Cordial M&Ms are out of season, substitute Cherry M&Ms or make the muffins with regular M&Ms. For a healthier alternative, try dried cherries stuffed with chocolate chips. Although not absolutely necessary, I recommend toasting the almonds, both the whole and chopped forms. Toasting enhances the nutty flavor, softens the meat and takes out the astringent taste. I toasted the almonds in the microwave (2 to 3 minutes on HIGH power). Toasting them in a slow oven (250F/121C) for 30 minutes will be as effective and possibly gentler on the flavor compounds.

This recipe makes 6 muffins. Ordinarily, I would have baked them in my larger 5.5-quart cooker-oven, because that’s too many to fit in my 5-quart, but the latter has the advantage of an external temperature control. To maximize the usable space in the 5-quart so that I could squeeze in a half dozen muffins, I fabricated a new spiral trivet. The trivet is a coil of rolled up aluminum foil, about 3/8-inch thick.

In the picture above, the coil trivet loosely covers the bottom of the ceramic. At the center is an upside-down metal condiment cup, measuring 2-1/2 inches in diameter x 1-1/2 inches tall. 5 muffins sit on the spiral trivet. The 6th goes on the metal cup, and will bake a little slower than the others, but not by much. When the 5 muffins below have browned with golden edges, the 6th may need more time to gain some color, if desired. The 6-muffin capacity is well worth the minor inconvenience.

Makes 6 Muffins
– 240 calories per muffin
– Oven Temperature: 250°F/121°C

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons beaten egg (about 1/2 large egg)
  • 1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/8 cup low-fat milk
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 30 Cherry Cordial M&Ms (see text for substitutes)
  • 1/8 cup chopped almonds, toasted
  • 6 whole almonds, toasted

1. Into a large bowl, sift the flour, almond meal, salt, baking soda and baking powder and whisk in the sugar to combine. Or mix dry ingredients and rub them between hands to break up lumps and combine.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, milk, buttermilk, egg and almond extract until well combined.

3. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients to form a stiff batter, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Do not overmix. The more the batter is stirred, the smoother it will be, but the denser the texture will be due to the development of the gluten.

4. Divide the batter to fill 6 greased muffin cups (1/4-cup capacity). Sprinkle each with the chopped almonds.

5. For every muffin, press a single whole almond into the center. Then press 5 M&Ms around the almond.

6. Bake in a preheated 250°F/121°C oven for 30-35 mins. The muffins are ready when a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. They should be lightly golden around the edges. Remove to a rack and cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

7. Unmold and serve. Do not allow the muffins to remain in their molds for long, because the buildup of moisture will turn the sides and bottom of the muffins soggy. To dry off soggy muffins, put them upside-down in a dehydration oven set to 110-120°F (43-49°C) for a few minutes or until the excess moisture has evaporated.


Coconut Dulce De Leche Scones (Baked)

[ Equipment: oven or slow cooker with temperature control. For more information about the terminology in this recipe, see Low Temperature Baking: A Journey of 3 Paths ].

Feb 17, 2011: Revised recipe adds coffee bean powder and molasses, and separates the egg (the yolk reappears in step 10 in the egg wash).

Denser than a cake, these scones lean more towards the tender texture of a batter bread than the rich texture of a traditional scone. Dulce de leche caramel and milk hydrate the scone dough in place of cream, with the dark brown sugar accentuating the caramel flavors. The candy store pairing of caramel and coconut only needed a bit of heat from ginger and cinnamon to perk up the flavors.

The base recipe was Cooking Light’s Classic Scones. After the dulce de leche and brown sugar, I re-portioned the ingredients for a 7-inch cake pan, increased the amount of baking powder, added baking soda to counter the acid from the brown sugar, molasses and the dulce de leche, took out the vanilla for spices and a hint of coffee. I made versions with whole egg and egg white only and think the egg-white-only ones have the crumbly texture more like a standard scone. (Substitute 2 tablespoons of beaten whole egg for the egg white for more cake-like scones.) Dulce de leche is easy to make from sweetened condensed milk, but I already had cans of dulce de leche in my food bin, waiting for a food project.

Although I didn’t change the amount of fat, I opted to replace 1/3 of the butter with vegetable oil. The one version I made with 100% butter came out a little dry, a common occurrence in LTB cakes made with all butter. The cut or rubbed butter and flour give the scones that flaky-like texture. The coffee bean powder is standard canned coffee (medium roast) finely ground to a powder in a spice grinder. In concert with the brown sugar and molasses, it reinforces the smokey, earthy qualities of the dulce de leche caramel.

When low-temperature baking anything much larger than a cupcake, the release of steam has to be controlled so that whole scone round bakes evenly. The vented foil pan cover slows the cooking slightly at the edge of the pan while accelerating the cooking at the center. The perforation pattern in the foil is that same as that first tried in my slow-rise no-knead focaccia, except that the center hole is bigger so that the surface of the scones bakes up drier. The height of the risen scone round is about 1 inch, and the cake pan should be taller than that to allow steam to circulate. The cake pan in the pictures is about 3 inches tall.

Makes 8 scones
– 175 calories per scone
– Oven Temperature: 250°F/121°C

  • 1-1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon coffee bean powder (see text)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup dulce de leche
  • 1/8 cup low-fat milk or low fat-fat coconut milk
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1/4 cup baker’s coconut (shredded, sweetened)
  • 1/8 cup chopped walnuts

1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, salt, spices, coffee bean powder and baking powder until well combined.

2. Slice butter into small cubes and add to flour mixture. Cut butter into the flour with a pastry blender or fork or rub the butter and flour between the hands until crumbly and uniformly distributed, a sandy-like texture.

4. In a small bowl, whisk the dulce de leche and milk until smooth and combined like a sauce. If the dulce de leche is too stiff, microwave it for a few seconds to soften it.

5. Then whisk in the egg white, molasses and vegetable oil.

6. Stir the dulce de leche liquid into the flour until it forms a soft dough. If the dough is too dry, mix in a little more milk. If the dough is too soft, sprinkle on a bit of flour. It should be a VERY soft dough, just kneadable.

7. Add the baker’s coconut and knead the dough briefly (5 to 8 seconds) until the coconut is evenly distributed.

8. Grease a 7-inch springform pan or cake pan with removable bottom. Cut out a 7-inch diameter circle from wax paper or parchment paper and place in bottom of pan. Grease the top of the paper.

9. Put dough into pan and press dough out evenly to cover the bottom of the pan.

10. Score dough with knife to form 8 wedges. The score marks will fill in during baking, but a faint outline should remain as a slicing guide. If the dough feels too soft to cut neatly, skip the scoring. Mix the egg yolk with 1 teaspoon of water to make an egg wash. Brush the scones with the the egg wash.

11. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Lightly press the walnuts in the dough.

12. Cover the top of the pan with a sheet of aluminum foil and secure by tying it around the rim with string. With a knife or scissors, cut out a 2-inch hole in the center of the foil. Then, with a 1/8-inch wood skewer, punch 12 holes, evenly spaced, about half way between the rim and the center hole.

13. Bake in a preheated 250°F/121°C oven for 50 to 60 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a thin wood skewer through the center hole into the scones. It’s ready if the skewer comes out clean. The center should firm, the surface dry and the edges a golden brown.

14. Cool and unmold.

15. Slice and serve.


Brisa Del Mar Tamale Muffins With Lima Bean Frosting (Baked)

These muffins are basically tamale pies baked in muffin form with a center filling with a “brisa del mar” (“sea breeze”) from seafood permeating throughout. The main deviations from basic tamale pie are the chopped clams in the chili, the seaweed flakes in the cornmeal batter, the “frosting” of pureed lima beans, and the smokey paprika, which reminds me of barbecue. Like the zong-zi wrapped rice dumplings, these muffins are just about a complete meal in one package. Once the cornmeal solidifies, they can be handled without breaking apart, and can be put in a cupcake carrier and stowed in lunchboxes (with the salsa in a separate sauce container or in packets – like the fastfood ones – instead of garnishing the frosting).

Originally, this recipe instructed a homemade chili filling, but I decided to simplify it by using a canned chili instead. My local markets dedicate almost an entire aisle to canned chilis, so I didn’t lack for choice. As I was developing this recipe, it occurred to me that combining the chili with a seafood would be an interesting touch, since I live in a city with a seafood waterfront. Beef and clams were a classic combination. I also tried mixing in dried ground shrimp (shrimp powder) for a scent of seafood, but it tasted slightly bitter.

The “fiesta” frozen vegetables are a mix of carrots, broccoli, sweet peas, white beans. garbonzo beans, kidney beans, green beans and red peppers. I did try a frozen “stir-fry” mix as well (with such asian-style vegetables as water chestnuts, mung bean sprouts and snap peas), but found the asian flavors clashed with the TexMex flavors too much for my palette.

The frosting was originally supposed to be mashed potatoes, but I went with pureed lima beans when I discovered how close they were to real mashed potatoes (many of my bun and pastry fillings are based with lima bean puree). Thematically, the lima bean puree echoed the bean ingredients in the batter. The recipe makes more puree than absolutely necessary for frosting the muffins, but I like a thick layer of frosting on my tamale muffins.

For vegetarians, these muffins can be made meat-free by substituting a vegetarian chili for the beef chili. Although clams qualify as a type of meat, some vegetarians will eat clams. For those that do not, substitute an imitation seafood such as imitation crab or shrimp. Seaweed flakes are available in American markets, but I made my own flakes by roughly grinding half a sheet of a sushi wrapper (sushi nori)  in a spice grinder or by cutting it into confetti with a scissors (see the picture above). I haven’t tried a vegan cheese, but there are cheddar-like vegan cheeses that melt like a dairy cheddar.

Makes 4 tamale muffins

– 130 to 190 calories per muffin (frosted with 1 tablespoon of lima bean puree)
– Oven Temperature: 250°F/121°C

Tamale Muffins:

  • 1/4 cup prepared beef chili (canned chili)
  • 1/8 cup chopped chopped clams
  • 3/4 cup frozen “fiesta” vegetables, thawed (see text)
  • 1/8 cup chunky-style salsa
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika (see text)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin (see text)
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/8 cup grated cheddar cheese or other soft cheese or vegan melting cheese (see text)
  • 3/8 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1-1/4 cup water
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons seaweed flakes (see text)
  • 1 cup seasoned lima bean puree (see below)

Lima Bean Puree (makes about 1/2 cup)

  • 1/2 cup dried baby lima beans
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pureed Lima Beans Method:

1. Soak lima beans in water overnight.

2. Drain beans. Put in sauce pot and cover with water. Simmer for about an hour or until beans are tender.

3. Drain and puree beans in a mini food processor or with an immersion blender.

4. Season puree with salt and chili powder or pepper to taste.

Muffins Method:

Preheat oven to 250°F/121°C.

1. If necessary, chop back any pieces of the fiesta vegetable mix larger than 1/2 inch.

2. Add salsa, hot sauce, chili powder, cumin, salt and mix. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, mix the chili, cheese, chopped clams and smoked paprika until well combined.

4. In a medium sauce pot, mix water, cornmeal and dried ground shrimp or seaweed flakes. On medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, cook the corn meal until it thickens into a paste and clears the bottom of the pot as it’s stirred (usually less than 5 minutes).

5. Remove from heat. Stir the vegetable mixture into the cornmeal.

6. Grease 4 muffin molds (1/2 cup capacity). Fill each muffin mold about 7/8 full with the cornmeal batter.

6. With a spoon, press a deep hole into the center of each muffin.

7. Put 1 tablespoon of the reserved meat mixture into the center of each muffin and press down until just below level of the mold.

8. Spread the cornmeal mixture from around the muffin to cover the fillling.

9. Optional: sprinkle the top of each muffin with grated cheese. Muffins that will be frosted with lima bean puree don’t need the cheese topping, which will toughen or harden as the muffin cools. To help the cheese stay moist, cover the top with disks of parchment paper, perforated with a paper hole punch to release steam.

10. Bake for 2 to 3 hours until the muffins are firm and the cheese is melted and lightly brown. Interestingly, if the muffins are refrigerated for several hours before baking, they may brown in as little as 1-1/2 hours, possibly because more water is absorbed into the cornmeal during the refrigeration. As is true of a corn pudding, the longer the muffins are baked, the more the cornmeal softens and smooths out.

11. Remove muffins from oven and cool for at least 45 minutes. If they aren’t cooled long enough, the muffins won’t hold their shape when unmolded.

12. Unmold each muffin and stand upright. Remove any paper covering from the baking process.

13. Frost each muffin with lima bean puree. If the muffins will be served hot, reheat them in a steamer or wrap them in a wet towel and reheat in the microwave, before garnishing them with salsa in the next step.

14. Just before serving, top each muffin with a spoonful of salsa.

15. An alternative way to serve is to put the muffin in a bowl and add a serving of vegetables, salsa and lima bean puree.