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Orange Coconut Cake

orange coconut cake

My maternal grandmother (Teta) made an incredible orange coconut cake. Sweet, moist, and fluffy, the old recipe sitting in my mother’s tattered red leather bound book, brought back nostalgic memories to my mothers eyes as she touched its pages. She read through the fading blue ink to make out the ingredients she must’ve frantically jotted down when she prepared to fly off to America with nothing but her mother’s recipes to awaken the Egyptian flavors she was leaving behind in Alexandria.

orange coconut cake

We recently came across this recipe as we were recreating the orange cake of my Egyptian aunts and grandmother for my last orange cranberry muffin recipe. I knew I had to remake this cake for my mother, who was very fondly reminiscing the flavors of her mothers’ orange coconut cake.  The hand-written recipe was quite washed-out, but we only had to perfect some measurements that became faded overtime. With my mother’s help, I revived and baked this cake for my family’s Thanksgiving gathering, and it was a very special treat to enjoy. I experimented with the recipe at least 10 times, and this one really delivers a fabulously sweet and citrusy orange cake with hints of coconut, topped with an orange caramel glaze!

fresh orange juice

orange zest

A fragrant zest is critical. Use the clean skin of an organic orange for best results. Zest the skin of the oranges with a sharp zester or grater, such as Microplane.

Fresh squeezed orange juice, fragrant orange zest, and finely shredded coconut flakes go into this cake along with coconut oil, olive oil, and milk for moisture. 

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It is really important to generously grease and flour the bundt pan, as the cake can easily get stuck. 

orange caramel orange caramel glaze

For the caramel, I start with a basic caramel by simmering sugar and water. I add orange zest, some butter, and powdered sugar to make it more like a glaze. The scent is so delectable, you will find it hard to resist licking the spoon before serving this up! To decorate the cake, I experimented both with simmering orange slices in the caramel, as well as browning the orange slices in butter or oil. Either way, be sure to top the cake with some lightly cooked oranges; its so beautiful, fragrant, and festive!

orange coconut cake with glaze

slice of cake orange cake slice

Orange Coconut Cake
From the archives of my Egyptian grandmother, this is a sweet and citrusy orange cake with hints of coconut, topped with an orange caramel glaze!!
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For the cake
  1. 2 .5 c flour
  2. 2 tbsp corn starch
  3. 1.5 tbsp baking powder
  4. 3 eggs
  5. 1 tsp vanilla
  6. 1.5 tbsp orange zest
  7. 1 3/4 c sugar
  8. 1/4 coconut oil
  9. 1/2 olive oil
  10. 1 c orange juice (fresh squeezed is best)
  11. 2 tbsp milk
  12. 1 c shredded coconut, unsweetened, plus more for garnish
  13. optional: Orange slices to garnish
For the orange caramel glaze
  1. 3/4 c sugar
  2. 1/4 c water
  3. 1 tbsp corn syrup
  4. 1/4 c brown sugar
  5. 1 tbsp orange zest
  6. 1 tbsp orange juice
  7. 1/4 c heavy cream
  8. 1 tbsp powdered sugar
For the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (f).
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and cornstarch.
  3. In another bowl, whip the eggs with vanilla extract and orange zest. Add the sugar, oils, and orange juice, and mix well.
  4. Slowly stir in the flour mixture. Add the milk to soften, without overmixing.
  5. Fold in the coconut.
  6. Pour the batter into a well greased bundt pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes on a rack moved right above the center rack.
For the orange caramel glaze
  1. Over medium-high heat, simmer the sugar, corn syrup, and water until it begins to thicken. Reduce heat to medium low, then add the orange zest and orange juice.
  2. Stir in the brown sugar and heavy cream; simmer for another 2 minutes.
  3. Simmer a few of the orange slices in the glaze for a minute to flavor the sauce and gently soften the oranges, then remove them quickly before they overcook and break apart.
  4. Remove the pot from heat. Add the powdered sugar with a sifter. Stir until incorporated and thickened. If necessary, add another tablespoon of powdered sugar to thicken. Keep in mind, the glaze will thicken more as it cools.
  5. Allow to cool for 10 minutes at room temperature before pouring over the cake.
  6. After the cake has cooled enough, flip onto a serving platter. Place the orange slices around the cake, and pour the glaze all over.
Notes
  1. You may also brown the orange slices in some butter, as this browned appearance looks beautifully rustic and tastes delicious.
Adapted from My Grandmother
Adapted from My Grandmother
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Orange Cranberry Muffins or cake

orange cranberryThis is a delicious citrus cake that is divinely moist, and bursting with tangy cranberries throughout! The recipe is so simple and quick, anybody can whip it up in no time. Orange cake is one of those nostalgic recipes that takes me back to my childhood visits to Egypt. My grandmother and my Tunte Zaineb often made this delicious cake, and we would simply eat it on the go, cut into simple little squares and stored in a plastic tupperware container. I used my grandmother’s and aunt’s recipes to recreate an orange cranberry muffin, which continues to be a favorite treat of mine at local cafes and bakeries. 

orange zest

Zest the skin of the oranges with a sharp zester or grater, such as Microplane.

fresh orange juice

The recipe uses fresh orange zest, which is so important for the orange flavor and scent. Along with some fresh squeezed orange juice, milk, and olive oil, this cake gets very citrusy and moist! Yes, olive oil.  In almost all my cakes I use olive oil. You would not know if you tasted it, the cake is still moist and fluffy, and there is no flavor from the oil. You could certainly use butter instead, if you like. Butter always lends a nice buttery taste, but for health reasons and simply because the cake comes out just as moist, I prefer to bake with olive oil.  

oranges and cranberries cranberries in batter

I also use fresh whole cranberries which are perfect because they are in season in the fall and winter, along with the deliciously juicy oranges. The festive pop of color, along with their tart and juicy flavor, goes so perfectly with this sweet orange cake! I try to buy the cranberries and keep them for a few days to make sure that they ripen and are not so tart in the cake. I found that if I use cranberries right away after I purchase them, they tend to be less sweet, which could definitely make this recipe go sour!

orange cranberry muffins orange cranberry muffin

Orange Cranberry Muffins
This is a supremely moist and citrusy orange cake bursting with juicy cranberries throughout! Make as muffins or in a bundt cake!
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Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
25 min
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 eggs
  2. 3/4 c olive oil or butter
  3. 2 tbsp orange zest
  4. 1 3/4 c sugar
  5. 1 c fresh squeezed orange juice
  6. 2 tbsp of milk
  7. 2.5 c flour
  8. 1.5 Tbsp of baking powder
  9. 3/4 c fresh cranberries, washed
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degree fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the orange zest.
  3. Stir in the sugar, oil, and orange juice with the eggs.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and baking powder.
  5. Slowly stir in the flour mixture with the wet mixture. Add the milk. Do not over mix!
  6. Stir in the cranberries.
  7. Grease 2 muffin pans or place a liner in each cup, or grease a bundt pan. Fill the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden on top and a toothpick comes out clean.
Notes
  1. If baking a cake, bake on the top rack so that the bottom does not get too browned, as you will need to flip it. Shake some powdered sugar on top of the cake with a sifter.
Adapted from My Grandmother Saadiya and Tunt Zaineb
Adapted from My Grandmother Saadiya and Tunt Zaineb
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Vanilla Bean Frosting

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This is fluffy, delicious, melts in your mouth, and perfectly vanilla! This makes enough frosting for about 3 dozen cupcakes (with generous and lofty peaks of frosting!) or a double layer 9 inch cake.

This easy recipe involves slicing open a real vanilla bean pod, scraping up all the lovely vanilla specks and simmering them in some cream. Your kitchen will smell AMAZING.

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Meanwhile,  whip the butter until it is pale and fluffy!

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When you whip the heavenly vanilla infused cream into the butter and sugar, you will have one amazing vanilla frosting to top your cakes with! 

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Vanilla Bean Frosting
So creamy, so vanilly, this frosting melts in your mouth and is the perfect go to recipe for frosting!
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 5 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  2. 3/4 c unsalted butter ( 1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
  3. 3/4 c heavy cream
  4. 3 tbsp vanilla extract
  5. 1 vanilla bean
Instructions
  1. Pour the cream into a small pot over medium- low heat. Slice open the vanilla bean vertically down the length of the bean, and use a knife to scrape out all the beans and add to the cream. Add the remainder of the bean pod to the cream. Simmer for only 5 minutes until fragrant and do not allow to boil or evaporate. Remove the bean pod and strain the cream with a fine sieve if necessary to remove any woody strands from the cream. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. Whip the butter at medium speed until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add the vanilla extract. Whip at medium then high speed for 1 minute.
  4. Sift the powdered sugar once or twice to remove any clumps and to aerate.
  5. Add the sifted powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing well.
  6. Add the vanilla bean infused cream and stir well.
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/
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Harissa aka Basboosa (Semolina Cake)

sugarandgarlicsugarandgarlic2013-46This is a typical Middle Eastern dessert very popular in Egypt. I love my mom’s recipe because it is so light and not overly sweet like many Middle Eastern desserts may be. The homemade syrup that soaks into most Middle Eastern desserts is usually quite heavy and has rose water or orange blossom water added to it. This syrup is simple and light and instead uses a dash of lemon juice. If you actually like the rose water ( I don’t!) you can add it in lieu of the lemon. 

sugarandgarlicsugarandgarlic2013-40Harissa is made with semolina flour, which you can find in any Middle Eastern market, Italian specialty shops, or other specialty grocery stories. If you cannot find it, a good substitute you may use is the Cream of Wheat cereal mix. Just make sure it is not the instant variation as that grain is too fine. 

For the syrup you simply dissolve sugar in water and boil it until it becomes thick, then add some butter. You want to be sure not to overheat as we are not making caramel here!

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sugarandgarlicsugarandgarlic2013-39The batter is so incredibly easy you will want to get up and make this as soon as you read it! All you need is semolina flour, baking powder, yogurt, butter, coconut, sugar and sour cream. No eggs! You mix all of these together into a nice thick and creamy batter and spread into a 9 inch rectangular pan. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. In no time, you will have gorgeous little semolina squares to enjoy for dessert!

sugarandgarlicsugarandgarlic2013-41Harissa is baked with an almond on top of each slice and cut into squares or diamonds. This sweet semolina cake  pairs perfectly with coffee or tea.

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Harissa aka Basboosa
A perfectly sweet and delicious Middle Eastern dessert perfect for tea time!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
For the cake
  1. 2 c semolina
  2. 1 c sugar
  3. 1 stick or 1/2 c butter
  4. 1 c finely shredded coconut
  5. 1 tsp baking powder
  6. 1 c yogurt
  7. 2 tbsp sour cream
For the syrup
  1. 1 1/2 c sugar
  2. 2 c water
  3. 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  4. 1/2 stick or 1/4 c butter
  5. 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F).
  2. First make the syrup as it needs to cool and thicken before pouring onto the baked cake. Pour the sugar and water into a pot and bring to a boil. Allow to boil until the mixture thickens. Do not carmelize. Squeeze a couple of drops of lemon into the boiling mixture.
  3. When the liquid has reduced a bit, add the butter and vanilla and stir well. Remove from heat once the butter has melted and allow to cool.
  4. For the cake, mix all the ingredients together in bowl until well combined. Cover with a towel and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  5. Spread into a 9" baking pan and place a halved or slivered almond on top where you will slice each square. Bake for 30 minutes until the top is golden.
  6. Once you remove the pan from the oven, pour the syrup over the entire cake, evenly, while the cake is still warm. Allow it to absorb; you might not need to use all of the syrup. Slice into squares or diamonds and enjoy!
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Blueberry Orange Oatmeal Muffins

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These muffins are full of fiber and bursting with orange and blueberry juiciness. I love to bake with seasonal produce. I have a bowl of zesty juicy oranges sitting on my counter and they were perfect for these muffins . This recipe originates from my aunt’s yummy orange cake. I adapted it to add the blueberries and oats and swapped out some of the flour and oil for healthier alternatives. I used whole grain flour and olive oil in lieu of the all purpose white flour and GMO corn oil.

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The recipe is incredibly easy. Just mix the wet ingredients together, add the flour and baking powder, combine with the oats and berries, and bake. You don’t even need a mixer. Along with the olive oil I used to moisten the cake, I added some  juice by throwing the orange I zested into my blender to make some pure whole fiber orange juice. My family drank the extra  juice and loved it; it’s pulpy and has all the fiber as opposed to  juice you get from an extractor. That is the beauty of using produce in season. You get the best flavors with no additives or artificial flavoring. The blueberries are just starting to phase out for the fall, but you may still be able to snag some sweet juicy ones! This recipe works well with lemon if that is your preference; just swap the juice and zest for lemon! 

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Blueberry Orange Oatmeal Muffins
Yields 16
refreshing orange, juicy blueberries, and whole grain fiber make this a delicious treat you don't have to feel guilty about!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 c all purpose flour
  2. 1 c whole grain flour
  3. 4 eggs
  4. 1 c sugar
  5. 1/2 c honey
  6. 1 tbsp orange zest
  7. 1/2 c olive oil
  8. 3/4 c orange juice
  9. 1 tbsp baking powder
  10. 1/2 c rolled oats
  11. 1 c fresh blueberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degree and grease a muffin tin.
  2. Combine the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl.
  3. In a larger bowl combine the eggs, zest, sugar, honey, oil and orange juice. Mix well.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture.
  5. Add the oats and blueberries and stir with a large spoon until incorporated.
  6. Pour into a muffin tin, filling 2/3 of the cavity, and bake for about 20 minutes.
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/