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This easy Moroccan orange cake is a moist, sweet cake that can be served as a snack, for dessert or tea time, or even for breakfast or to break the fast in Ramadan.
Not only is it an easy recipe, it also packs a deliciously sweet citrus flavor that’s good enough to be served without icing. Fresh oranges are key to the cake’s great flavor.
You only need one or two oranges to get the amount of juice and zest required for this recipe. Make sure to wash and zest the oranges before juicing. You can use a fine side of a box grater or a citrus zester to make the zest.
Meskouta Cake with Oranges
Moroccan orange cake is a variation of meskouta, a popular Moroccan cake with a texture similar to a sponge cake. There are different types of meskouta cakes based on flavors like lemon or vanilla.
Sometimes Moroccan cooks will beat the egg whites separately and fold them into the batter for a lighter texture, but there’s really no need to take that step for this or other meskouta recipes.
Although a round tube or bundt pan is most often used to make meskouta, some cooks prefer to use a loaf pan. Adjust baking time according to the size and shape of your own pan.
Using Bowls and Tea Glasses as Measures
Traditionally, Moroccans measure their ingredients using bowls and Moroccan tea glasses. Although many Moroccan cooks are shifting to scales or measuring cups when baking, I’ve included the traditional measures for meskouta in the Recipe Notes just for fun.
Children enjoy using nonformal methods for measuring ingredients, so you might like to try that method if you’re baking this cake with them. Take note that the average Moroccan tea glass amounts to about 6 to 8 ounces of liquid and a soup bowl about 12 ounces or 1 1/2 cups.
How Much Baking Powder to Use
The traditional Moroccan recipe calls for 2 sachets (7 g each) of baking powder which is equivalent to 4 teaspoons. However, I’ve updated the recipe to reduce the amount of measured baking powder from 4 teaspoons to 3 teaspoons.
This is in response to comments I’ve found on other sites which raise concern that the larger amount of baking powder might cause a bitter flavor or too rapid rising (then sinking) of the middle of the cake.
Although I’ve made this cake many times over the years and never had either problem, I tested the recipe recently using 3 teaspoons baking powder and again with 4 teaspoons. Both cakes came out great, so I opted to list the smaller amount in the conventional ingredients list.
Serving and Storing
The orange cake is truly delicious all on its own, but you can certainly top it with a dusting of powdered sugar or a simple icing if you like. Orange jam and coconut icing also make a nice finishing touch, as do garnishes of crushed nuts.
Properly covered or wrapped, the cake will stay fresh for a few days at room temp or for several months in the freezer.
For another easy Moroccan dessert that uses oranges, try this simple Moroccan Orange and Cinnamon Dessert Salad.
Moroccan Orange Cake Recipe
Conventional Measures (see notes for baking with the Traditional Measures)
- ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice - (from 1 or 2 oranges)
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 4 large eggs
- 1½ cups sugar
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder - (see Notes)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C)
- Grease and flour a bundt or tube cake pan. Wash and zest the oranges, then juice them.
- Using an electric mixer or whisker, beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until pale and thick. Add the oil gradually and beat until well combined.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate medium bowl. Add it to the eggs and sugar mixture and stir lightly to combine.
- Pour in the orange juice and beat until smooth. Mix in the vanilla and orange zest.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake in the oven for approximately 40 minutes, or until the sides of the cake pull away from the pan and the cake tests done. You can test by inserting a toothpick into the center. If it comes out dry, your cake is done.
- Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool for 7 to 10 minutes. Carefully remove the cake from the pan and place it on a rack to finish cooling.
- You can top with orange jam and coconut sprinkles
- Strawberry jam can also be used.
- Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar for special occasions
- Chopped almonds make a nutritious topping
- You can also sprinkle the top with a little orange zest
- 1 tea glass of freshly squeezed orange juice
- Zest of 1 or 2 oranges
- 4 large eggs
- 1 level soup bowl of sugar
- 1 tea glass of vegetable oil
- 1 heaping soup bowl of flour
- 2 sachets of baking powder (equivalent to 4 tsp; can use 3 tsp instead)
- Pinch salt
- 1 sachet vanilla sugar (equivalent to 1 tsp liquid flavoring or extract)
Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is only an estimate obtained from online calculators. Optional ingredients may not be included in the nutritional information.REVIEW THIS RECIPE
Sunday 9th of May 2021
I tried this recipe yesterday-I am more of a bread baker but ....I visited Morocco in 1971- travelling in VW bus for a month -loved the donuts and goats milk for breakfast in Oujda!!Remembering fondly.Then drove across Algeria, Libya and into Tunisia.!! Fond memories.-I digress- The cake turned out beautifully, nice orange taste, used 3 tsp baking powder. Crumb is excellent-I probably left it in the oven a bit too long , but no worries it came out of the bunt pan nicely- I used only 1 cup of sugar too.The sweetness of the squeezed orange juice is sweetness in itself- Thank you for this rather simple but VERY tasty cake.
Sunday 9th of May 2021
Thanks for sharing your baking results, as well as some memories from your time in Morocco. And then Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia -- what a fabulous trip!
Saturday 8th of May 2021
This was delicious! I made it in a loaf tin and even used gluten free flour and a little xantham gum. It is moist and soft with a lovely orange flavour and as said, doesn't need any icing or filling.
Saturday 8th of May 2021
So glad you liked it, and it's helpful to know the recipe works well with gluten-free flour.