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.
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 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.
It is really important to generously grease and flour the bundt pan, as the cake can easily get stuck.
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!
- 2 .5 c flour
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- 1.5 tbsp baking powder
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1.5 tbsp orange zest
- 1 3/4 c sugar
- 1/4 coconut oil
- 1/2 olive oil
- 1 c orange juice (fresh squeezed is best)
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 c shredded coconut, unsweetened, plus more for garnish
- optional: Orange slices to garnish
- 3/4 c sugar
- 1/4 c water
- 1 tbsp corn syrup
- 1/4 c brown sugar
- 1 tbsp orange zest
- 1 tbsp orange juice
- 1/4 c heavy cream
- 1 tbsp powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (f).
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and cornstarch.
- In another bowl, whip the eggs with vanilla extract and orange zest. Add the sugar, oils, and orange juice, and mix well.
- Slowly stir in the flour mixture. Add the milk to soften, without overmixing.
- Fold in the coconut.
- Pour the batter into a well greased bundt pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes on a rack moved right above the center rack.
- 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.
- Stir in the brown sugar and heavy cream; simmer for another 2 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes at room temperature before pouring over the cake.
- After the cake has cooled enough, flip onto a serving platter. Place the orange slices around the cake, and pour the glaze all over.
- You may also brown the orange slices in some butter, as this browned appearance looks beautifully rustic and tastes delicious.