orange pound cake muffins, a david lebovitz recipe makeover

orange pound cake muffins, foodlets
THESE TASTE LIKE EXTRA delicious Twinkies. That’s the first thing I have to say about this recipe. The second is, I’m sorry Mr. Lebovitz. (But I do hope you understand the method to my mini foodie madness.)

Inspired by pastry chef David Lebovitz’s gorgeous book, “Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes“, we’ve started a new recipe makeover series for February. In the next two weeks we’ll celebrate Valentine’s Day and Estelle’s first birthday so what better month to focus on recipes from a famous American-turned-Parisian blogger whose fruit-based confections are only outdone by those with “screaming chocolate intensity”? And it gets better. You can win a copy of this cookbook for yourself.

After flipping through “Ready for Dessert“–a massive best-of compilation so filled with luscious photos that it would fit perfectly on any coffee table, except ours which often doubles as a jungle gym or tea party location for two-year-olds–we picked this recipe because I wanted something with fresh fruit in season. Passion fruit glaze was the original option but orange was included, too. We’re still in the dead of winter in Rome, so orange it was.

For a kid-friendly makeover of a recipe that originally featured butter and sugar prominently (and deliciously, no doubt), I pulled out my usual tricks: reduced the sugar and butter then added wheatgerm and pureed white beans. There were also two pans involved. One mini muffin size and the other heart-shaped which are closer to regular size muffins. For the larger size, which was bound for a toddler and not a baby who hasn’t had citrus yet, we added a syrupy glaze on top made out of freshly squeezed orange juice and a teaspoon of sugar, another healthier interpretation of the original idea.

And here’s the verdict. Estelle loves them. I love them. Phoebe does not love them. (And Paul does not eat muffins.) Poor Phoebe isn’t feeling well this week though. I say this with her home from nursery school this morning, sitting right beside me. I like to think that she’d enjoy a muffin or two (or nine) once she’s on the mend. For now, it’s a muffin for E, crackers for P and more muffins for me.


ORIGINAL RECIPE: Pound Cake with Passion Fruit Glaze by David Lebovitz  (in the book, this recipe includes an option for orange glaze)

A LITTLE HEALTHIER: Reduce sugar by 1/4 cup or 1/2 cup. Substitute whole wheat flour for half the flour in the original recipe. Omit the glaze or reduce sugar to one teaspoon per squeezed orange, making a syrup instead.

EVEN HEALTHIER: Make the updates above plus, substitute 1/4 cup wheat germ for 1/4 cup of white flour. Replace 1/2 cup butter with 1/2 cup pureed white beans. The recipe below includes all of these changes.



for the muffins

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened plus more for pans
  • 2 teaspoons flour for pans
  • 1/2 cup pureed white beans with just enough water added to liquify into a very thick paste
  • fresh zest of 3 oranges
  • juice of 1 orange (reserve the other to make syrup)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup flour blend: white and whole wheat (or just use whole wheat)
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

for the syrup

  • juice of 2 oranges
  • 2 teaspoons sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

First make the muffins. Either use muffin liners or butter each cup then sprinkle with flour, tapping out extra.

Using a standing mixer or bowl and hand beater, combine the butter and orange zest until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add beans and mix again.

In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, orange juice and vanilla then slowly pour into the butter mixture with mixer on medium speed. As the original recipe notes, “the mixture will look curdled; that’s okay.”

Set a sifter on top of your mixing bowl or use a separate bowl to whisk together the flour and dry ingredients: flour, wheat germ, baking soda and salt. Gently incorporate the flour mixture but do not overmix.

Pour into prepared muffin pans, filling nearly to the top.

Baking times:

  • for mini muffins 10-12 minutes
  • for regular size muffins 20-24 minutes

To check for doneness, press your fingertip on top of a muffin. If it springs back into shape, they’re done.

While the muffins cool, prepare the syrup.

Squeeze the juice of two oranges into a one cup measuring cup with a spout. Add two teaspoons of sugar and stir. Include the pulp unless you have picky eaters in which case it would be wiser to strain.

After the muffins have cooled for a few minutes, poke 6-8 holes in the tops of each one using a toothpick. Slowly pour syrup over the top, allowing it to soak in before overflowing. Let sit at least 10 minutes before serving.




  1. Cheryl W. says

    These look devine. I love the plump orange bits peeking out. I also love the shape. I can think of a million things to fill those divets. Nutella, cream cheese, orange marmalade are just a few off the top of my head. Yum!

    • charityc says

      Cheryl — They ARE good! I’m making another batch today and using flaxseed in place of wheat germ, just because that’s what I have on hand. And yes, any time Nutella is involved, I’d say things get even more delicious immediately!


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