Traditional Moroccan orange and almond butterless cake


Elizabeth DeCicco – State Hornet

Elizabeth DeCicco

Meskouta, a traditional Moroccan orange and almond butterless cake, has a historical taste. This irresistible Bundt-formed dessert originated during the French and Spanish colonization in early twentieth century Morocco, when butter was scarce and costly for its locals. Citrus on the other hand was affordable, with oranges being one of the country’s major exports. Moroccan cuisine also uses citrus to prepare spiced, preserved lemons, salads and tea; and to add flavor to sauces and couscous.

Baking with olive oil has been done for centuries. Unlike butter, light olive oil contains vitamin E and less saturated fat. It allows other major ingredients to emerge, making the cake’s texture moist and delicate. Meskouta, meaning cake in Moroccan Arabic dialect, has an ambrosial flavor from its orange zest, orange juice to its few drops of orange-sweetened water.

Moroccan Orange and Almond Butterless Cake


1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to grease the pan

1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon of brown sugar

1 ½ cup flour

A pinch of salt

3 tablespoons almond flour (finely ground almonds)

1 tablespoon baking powder

A pinch of ground cinnamon

4 eggs

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup light olive oil

¼ cup fresh orange juice

¼ cup honey

Orange zest from two medium Navel oranges

½ teaspoon orange-flavored water (optional)

2 tablespoons of almond flakes


Preheat the oven to 320 F.

Mix together the cinnamon and brown sugar, then set aside.

Spray the rounded mould, or Bundt pan, with the vegetable oil then sprinkle the pan with the cinnamon and brown sugar mixture.

Whole almonds can be roughly grounded in a blender or food processor for fine almond flour. Sift the flour, salt, almond flour, baking powder and cinnamon together. Set mixture aside.

Beat together the eggs and sugar for about 10 minutes until thick. Then gradually beat in the olive oil.

Add the orange juice and honey, then gradually stir in the flour mixture. Stir until smooth and there are no crumbles visible.

Add the orange zest and orange water, then stir again.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 20 minutes, then remove carefully and sprinkle some almonds on the top. Return to the oven and continue cooking for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Garnish with powdered sugar and almond flakes, if desired. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from from Moroccan Cuisine Marocaine.

Elizabeth DeCicco can be reached at [email protected]