Simple Sundays | Moroccan Orange Cake

“Just one day more,” my son whispered into my ear this morning. I was enjoying the Saturday stillness, laying in my bed. It was wonderful not to have to be anywhere, to be able to breathe in the cool, spring breeze coming in through the…

Simple Sundays | Moroccan Orange Cake

Moroccan Orange Cake | Kitchen Confidante

“Just one day more,” my son whispered into my ear this morning.

I was enjoying the Saturday stillness, laying in my bed. It was wonderful not to have to be anywhere, to be able to breathe in the cool, spring breeze coming in through the window, to hear the birds chirping in the trees.

“One day until what?” I have to admit, I was a little baffled at the countdown.

“Till the leprechaun comes!”

Ah, now I get it.

Moroccan Orange Cake | Kitchen Confidante | With Orange Garnish

I told you the story — this time last year, in fact — of how I am the daughter of an Irishwoman. If a love for my mother’s Irish Soda Bread and corned beef and Irish accents count, that is. I suppose I could also say that since then, I have welcomed an [half] Irish (but truly born and partially raised in Ireland) brother in law into our family. That is true. But when it comes to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, we join the rest of the world — we love it for the fun of it.

As a child, St. Patrick was no different than St. Nick, or St. Francis for that matter. I was raised in Catholic schools, were patron saints held meaning. But my children have a different view on things. I asked them and their wee little friends what St. Patrick’s Day means to them and they gave me all the secular representations: leprechauns, four leaf clovers, green, and pots of gold.

The leprechaun will visit us tomorrow, and play all sorts of pranks. He’s been known to turn yogurt green, leave green footprints, and even pee in the toilet green (which always makes me wonder, why don’t leprechauns ever flush the toilet?). As for the grown ups? We’ll celebrate – I will be cooking from Clodagh McKenna‘s newly released cookbook, Clodagh’s Kitchen Diaries.

Moroccan Orange Cake | Kitchen Confidante | Slice

We entertained friends tonight, and I made Clodagh’s Moroccan Orange Cake. It was the perfect ending to our evening filled with good bites: spongy breads, smooth Skellig, and a variety of charcuterie. The sweet nectar of the orange syrup soaked beautifully into the rustic cake, pairing perfectly with the night’s desert wine. It sang of springtime, and I like to think, an Irish ballad too. This is a cake to be enjoyed, with friends, whether gathered for St. Patrick’s Day…or not.

Clodagh's Kitchen Diaries

Disclosure: Clodagh McKenna’s newly released cookbook, Clodach’s Kitchen Diaries, was received as part of a package from Kerry Gold and the Irish Dairy Board to help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Recipe reprinted with permission from Clodagh’s Kitchen Diaries by Clodagh McKenna © 2013 Kyle Books. Cookbook photograph © Kate Whitaker. I was not compensated by Kerry Gold or the Irish Dairy Board; I am sharing this cake because I truly believe you will love it, too. As always, all opinions are my own.

Moroccan Orange Cake

Serves 8 | Prep: 10 minutes | Cook: 60 minutes

"This, I guarantee, will be one of your favorite recipes in this book. Light, moist, and so zingy, it will keep for up to a week in an airtight container." -- Clodagh McKenna, Clodagh's Kitchen Diaries (Kyle Books, 2012)


1/2 cup slightly stale
white breadcrumbs
1 cup superfine sugar
1 cup ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup sunflower oil
4 eggs
finely grated zest of
1 large unwaxed orange
finely grated zest of
1 unwaxed lemon
whipped cream or Greek yogurt, to serve (optional)

For the citrus syrup
juice of 1 orange
juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup superfine sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves


Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line the base, grease, and flour an 8 × 2-in round cake pan.

Mix together the breadcrumbs, sugar, almonds, and baking powder. Whisk the oil with the eggs, then pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the orange and lemon zests. Pour the mixture into the cake pan and cook in the oven for 45–60 minutes or until the cake is golden brown. Check that the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer into the center; if it’s ready the skewer should come out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the citrus syrup. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring gently to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved completely. Simmer for 3 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and cloves from the syrup.

While the cake is still warm, pierce it several times with a skewer, then spoon the hot syrup over the cake, allowing it to run into the holes. Leave to cool. Spoon any excess syrup back over the cake every now and then until it is all soaked up. Serve with whipped cream or a dollop of thick Greek yogurt, if you like.

Recipe for Moroccan Orange Cake reprinted with permission from Clodagh’s Kitchen Diaries by Clodagh McKenna © 2013 Kyle Books.


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  1. Kylie Chevallier

    I absolutely LOVE this recipe, I wondered if it freezes well? And would you add the syrup before freezing or once you defrost it when you want to eat it?

    • Liren Baker

      Thanks, Kylie! I haven’t tested freezing the cake, but I would recommend finishing the cake with the syrup, then let it cool completely. After it’s completely cool, then wrap it well and freeze. Please let me know how it goes!

  2. Keryn

    I made this today because I had a couple of oranges sitting on the bench needing to be used. It was really deliciously light and full of citrus flavour and I would definitely make again. The only comment I would make is that because it required an orange and a lemon there was no overriding orange or lemon flavour. I would say it was a citrus cake. But it was very nice.

  3. Anat

    Unbelievable recipe!! Thank you so much for posting it. I can’t tell how many times I have been making it. Easy and so yummy. It’s a keeper:-))

  4. Alka

    Like this cake. recipe is so simple to make but I am wondering that there’s no all purpose flour in the recipe. Please explain . I want to make this cake on coming weekend

    • Liren Baker

      Hi Alka, you are correct, there is no all-purpose flour in the recipe. Instead, you will use white breadcrumbs and ground almonds (aka almond meal). I hope that helps, enjoy!

  5. TT

    I wish people would use the correct word, “strained yogurt”, instead of “Greek” yogurt.
    “Greek yogurt” is nothing but an American marketing term for what is really “strained yogurt”. “Greek style” yogurt is also used in Gr. Britain, again more marketing than reality or education. In Greece, Greeks do actually and indeed eat a lot regular yogurt like the rest of the world. They know that strained yogurt is a type of yogurt, and no need for the word “Greek” in front of it. The reason why it is not Greek is because strained yogurt is a regional food throughout the eastern Mediterranean, central and southern Asia. Thus, to name and call a food product with just one of the countries that makes and enjoys this type of yogurt is insulting to all the people of the various countries that also eat and enjoy this food that has been part of their respective cultures as well, and they didn’t get it from the Greeks.

    I am going to try this excellent sounding recipe. But, I have to say that strained yogurt is not at all a substitute for whipped cream as this recipe implies. I understand that recipe is just a suggestion for a topping, but it reads more like an equivalent substitute. As a topping suggestion it would read better to write something like; “If you want a creamy type topping, then try some lightly sweetened fresh whipped cream, or strained yogurt, or regular yogurt”. The flavor profile of fresh whipped cream is vastly different to yogurt, as well as having quite different textures.

    Sweetened strained yogurt can make an excellent topping for desserts, or be a dessert itself, but it does not at all taste like whipped cream.

  6. Roxanne

    I made this cake over the weekend to take to a dinner party. I added candied orange slices to the top for a spectacular presentation. This cake was nothing short of phenomenal! Easy & unusual this cake serves many as a small piece is so rich and delicious. Its a keeper for sure!

  7. chantal

    Hi there,
    this cake looks lovely, and reminds me of one I used to buy in a local cafe here in Northern Ireland. I was wondering what size of egg was used in the recipe. As sizes vary, could you perhaps tell me the weight of an egg used instead, please? 
    Many thanks!

  8. Becky

    So intrigued by this!! I love pretty much anything Moroccan but I must say that I’ve never had Moroccan cake.

    On another note, I just taught my ESL students the real story of St. Patrick’s Day and I myself was amazed at how much I didn’t know. What an incredible story!! Hope you and your family had a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day!!

    • Liren

      I had never had a Moroccan cake, either, Becky. It was lovely. Definitely a new favorite of mine.

      It really is amazing how much history is lost in these celebrations – I really should take the time to teach it to my kids!

  9. Cookin' Canuck

    Ah yes, the leprechauns. There were several traps set in our house and the leprechauns wreaked a little havoc.

    What a beautiful cake. This is exactly the sort of light cake I’d love to enjoy with a cup of tea.

    • Liren

      Sounds like your kids had some fun with the naughty leprechauns! And you’re right, a cup of tea with this cake would be perfect.

    • Liren

      The orange is so vibrant and alluring, it was definitely a happy picture to make! And you’re right, the texture is definitely different from your average cake!

    • Liren

      The citrus syrup was absolutely heavenly, Laura. The cake just soaked it all in so beautifully.

  10. Eileen

    This cake looks amazing! I don’t think I’ve ever baked with breadcrumbs actually in the cake batter (although lining my bundt pan is a different story). Citrus for the win!

    • Liren

      Thanks Winnie! I really loved making it as much as eating it (I do think I ate most of it, ahem.)

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