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. 

fresh out the oven bruschetta-orangecakesugarandgarlic2016-12 bruschetta-orangecakesugarandgarlic2016-20

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.
  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

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
  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
  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.
  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

Cinnamon Spice Banana Date Muffins

2016-09-30sugarandgarlic2016-9 chocolate and date banana muffin

These muffins are perfection when it comes to banana bread! Wonderfully moist and delicious, with ooey-gooey chocolate and dates throughout, this is most delicious comfort treat for rainy days like the autumn season! The cinnamon and spice paired with the sweetness of dates and bananas is a favorite treat for my family and friends. My favorite part is the bittersweet chocolate in these little cakes; they balance the sweet dates and cinnamon spice so nicely. I also love to serve this as a cake with a walnut streusel on top (if my nut-allergy husband isn’t around). These make for an excellent breakfast muffin or snack because they are so light and energizing with plenty of dates and less sugar and fat than most banana breads!

banana date muffins

I recently enjoyed one of the most perfect banana breads last winter courtesy of my father-in-law’s nurse, Karen. It was so delicious with dried cherries throughout. She has thus inspired me to bake A LOT of banana bread since then. I also learned an important trick from her recipe: to mix in the flour VERY last will prevent you from over-mixing the batter. Over-mixing banana bread batter is what makes it tough, or rubbery. Problem solved.

My version of banana bread is a bit lighter. I have completely omitted the butter and added coconut oil instead to make these muffins supremely moist with a hint of coconut. I have also cut the sugar in half and added gooey sweet dates instead. You may have read in my other posts about the plentiful health benefits of dates. They are a low glycemic sweetener and energizer, with a bounty of nutrients and minerals our bodies need. 

bananas and dates with muffin
dates, oil, nuts, bananas

Then, I add CHUNKS of bittersweet chocolate. Who doesn’t love chocolate? Here is my secret: use a high-quality bittersweet chocolate bar, and chop it. Thank me later.

chopped chocolate

Finally, and most importantly, I infuse some warmth and spice with my stash of high quality spices: a couple of heaping spoons of cinnamon, a pinch of himalayan pink salt, and a dash of ground cloves and cardamom. The sweet and spicey aroma is incredible and is the perfect flavor for this comfort treat. 

cinnamon and spice

I bake these in a muffin pan to make 12 jumbo bakery-style muffins, or I bake 6 muffins and pour the other half of the batter into a 9 inch round pan with a walnut streusel on the bottom. Simply toss chopped walnuts with a tablespoon of coconut oil and a spoon of cinnamon and sugar; spread along the bottom of the pan. The more cinnamon-sugar coated nuts, the merrier. The walnuts pair perfectly with this cake and dresses it up just enough to serve to guests. Just be sure to bake this on the top rack so that the bottom of the cake doesn’t brown too much, since you will end up flipping it to serve. 

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This recipe is very easy. You don’t even need a mixer. Mash up ripe bananas with the coconut oil. I like to soak my pitted dates in hot water to get them really juicy and gooey. I then mash the plump dates with the bananas. Add the sugar, eggs, spices, and mix-ins (chopped chocolate and  dates). Add the flour last and only stir gently until incorporated. DO NOT OVER MIX. Bake for about 30 minutes, and enjoy!

soak the dates mashed bananas with coconut oil banana bread batter chopped dates and chocolate


Do it right, and enjoy these sweet gooey muffins or a slice of cake with a cup of tea. <3

banana muffins with teamuffins and teabanana date muffin2016-09-29sugarandgarlic2016-21

walnut banana cake cinnamon spice banana date muffins

Cinnamon Spice Banana Date Muffins
Serves 6
These moist banana date muffins are filled with gooey chocolate and a sweet, sultry spice aroma of cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
  1. 6 ripe bananas
  2. 2/3 c coconut oil
  3. 1.5 c sugar
  4. 2 whole eggs
  5. 1 c Medjool dates, pitted and halved
  6. 1 c chopped bittersweet chocolate
  7. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  8. 2 tsp cinnamon
  9. 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  10. 1/4 tsp cardamom
  11. 1/4 tsp himalayan pink salt
  12. 2 tsp baking soda
  13. 3 c flour
  14. chopped walnuts, plus extra coconut oil, cinnamon, and sugar for garnish (optional)
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees (F) because you will be done mixing in no time.
  2. Soak 1/2 c of the dates in hot water so that they become plump and soft for about 5 minutes. Drain the water from the dates.
  3. Smash the peeled bananas, soaked dates, and coconut oil together.
  4. Mix in the sugar and spices.
  5. Add the eggs with the vanilla.
  6. Chop the remaining dates into smaller pieces and stir into the batter along with the chocolate.
  7. Add the baking soda and then the flour last. Stir until incorporated, being careful not to over-mix.
  8. Scoop the batter into a muffin pan or into two 9 inch round pans. If you want to dress up the round cake, prepare a walnut mixture on the bottom of the pan by mixing chopped nuts with coconut oil, cinnamon, and sugar. Pour the batter on top and bake on the top rack of your oven.
  1. You may also choose to spread the chopped nuts smothered in coconut oil, cinnamon, and sugar along the bottom of the muffin pans as well. The nuts pair very nicely with this cake!
  2. Bake on the middle to upper rack of the oven, and check after 30 minutes. Bake until golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
Sugar & Garlic