Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Orange & Chocolate | Fair Trade Giveaway

loaf of coffee cake

It took 32 years for me to start listening to my mother. I’m only just beginning to understand how annoying this must have been, only just appreciating how many gray hairs I may have caused, only just accepting how many wrinkles I may have induced.

The other day I asked Ella (my four-year old) to help me pick up a mess she created, and she said: “Um, you can just do it all by yourself.” I’ve read enough self-help parenting books to know that freaking out is not the appropriate reaction to this response, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to strangle her.

I have it in for me. Every time Ella yells: “No Mom, I’m telling you a question!” I think of my poor mother and all the times she offered advice only to receive pushback.

Why was it so hard for me to just say, “Yes! Of course! That’s a great idea!” every time my mother told me to “Enunciate!” or to “Eat [my] greens!” or to “Put [my] shoulders back!”?

Why couldn’t I have just said, “You’re right,” when she told me the best chickens come from her kosher market, the best lamb from Australia?

Why couldn’t I have just smiled when she told me not to frown?

Because she is right. She is ALWAYS right.

And for this, I have started to listen: I now save all of my receipts. I keep a journal. I floss. I salvage the juices from that roasted kosher chicken, and I cook potatoes in those juices on subsequent nights. They are the best potatoes in the world.

And it seems her granddaughter is listening, too: Yesterday, Ella dropped a box of toothpicks all over the floor and asked for help picking it up because she was too tired to do it all by herself. As I knelt on the ground next to her, she looked at me and said, “Many hands make light work.” Yes they do, Ella. Yes they do. My mother would be so proud.


This year, Mother’s Day and World Fair Trade Day fall during the same weekend, and the Fair Trade theme this year is: “Moms Make a World of Difference.” One of the founding principles of Fair Trade is Women’s empowerment. In addition to freedom from harassment, Fair Trade certification ensures that women have a voice, a vote, and a leadership role in the community. You can read a few inspiring stories here.

Many of you know what Fair Trade means, but to review:

• Fair Trade helps farmers (more than 1.2 million worldwide) in developing countries build sustainable businesses that positively influence their communities.

• Products that bear the Fair Trade logo come from farmers and workers who are justly compensated.

• Fair Trade ensures that farmers follow internationally monitored environmental standards and also provides financial incentives and resources for organic conversion, reforestation, water conservation and environmental education.

• Fair Trade empowers women to play an active role in their families and in their co-ops by starting businesses with guaranteed access to health care, certain job rights and freedom from harassment.

• Fair Trade supports education with revenues set aside to build schools and maintain enrollment.


A Giveaway:

UPDATE 6-11: Thank you all for sharing such words of wisdom from your mothers. I truly enjoyed reading every single comment, and maybe by next year, I will compile everything recorded here in one post. Anyway, the winner is Lindsay Frucci. I have emailed you.

Fair Trade is generously giving away a box of goodies to one of you. The Fair Trade treats include: BarkThins (addictive), Allegro Coffee (truly addictive), Guittard semi-sweet chocolate (love shaving this bar for chocolate chip cookies), Nutivia Virgin coconut oil (the best I’ve tasted — seriously so good), prAna Vanessa Scarf (so beautiful!), sweetriot chocolate (so yummy), Numi Organic Tea (love the chocolate rooibos), Frontier cinnamon (so fragrant), Choice Tea (love adding a spoonful of honey to my Moroccan Mint), India Tree Brown Muscovado Sugar (use as you would brown sugar), Honest Tea (perfectly sweet).

To enter the giveaway, please recount any advice (comical or otherwise) you cherish from your mother or any mother-like figure in your life.

Giveaway goodies. Please note that for this photo I substituted Fair Trade coffee/chocolate from my Co-Op for the Allegro Coffee and SweetRiot chocolate…I drank/ate those before snapping a picture:
Fair Trade Goodies

slice of orange coffee cake with chocolate


You can make this with chocolate chips…:
Fair Trade goodies

guittard chocolate

…or chopped chocolate. This Guittard chocolate is delicious:
chopped chocolate


unbaked loaf

just-baked coffee cake

slice of orange coffee cake with chocolate

Attention Pinners: In the spirit of Mother’s Day, Fair Trade invited food bloggers to bring a dish to a virtual brunch party on Pinterest. Vote for your favorite dish by repinning its photo between May 1st and May 11th. This Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Orange and Chocolate, inspired by a recipe from More from Macrina, is my contribution to the party.

FairTradeBrunch-LockUp Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Orange, Chocolate & Coconut Oil

Inspired by a recipe in More From Macrina
Yield = 1 to 2 loaves (see notes) or 1 bundt cake

Notes: The original recipe calls for an orange syrup, a chocolate glaze, almonds, butter, and a number of other ingredients/changes, so please check out the original if you are looking for the Macrina version.

I absolutely love this cake — the texture is super moist, and the orange zest and juice offer the nicest complement to the chocolate. The coconut oil, too, imparts such a nice flavor and smells heavenly while baking. I have now baked this three ways: 1.) In a bundt pan. 2.) In a single loaf pan (pictured here) 3.) And divided among two loaf pans. The original recipe calls for baking the cake in two loaf pans, and that’s probably the ideal. Cramming the batter into one pan (as pictured here) causes some issues during the baking — one, the batter almost spills out; two the cake takes a lot longer to bake and might still be underdone in the center, which I don’t mind, but which I know isn’t ideal. The reason I tried baking the batter in a single pan was because I find the two loaves to be on the small side, which is fine, but I just kind of like a bigger loaf. And I felt the same way about the bundt pan — it makes a pretty wimpy bundt cake in my opinion. I am dying to make a 1.5x batch of batter and divide it among two loaf pans or one bundt pan. I will report back as soon as I do.

1¾ (224 g) cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 (114 g) cup sugar
1/2 (116 g) cup light brown sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Zest of 1 orange
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed (or not) orange juice
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
a scant cup semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate from a bar

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325˚F. Grease two 4½-by-8-inch loaf pans or a bundt pan with coconut oil or butter and set aside. (I’ve had issues with sticking when using coconut oil, so I recommend butter or nonstick spray or whatever you are comfortable using.)

2. Whisk together the flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix in the orange zest with your fingers until evenly distributed. Set aside.

3. Whisk together the orange juice, vanilla, eggs, and sour cream in a separate medium bowl until thoroughly combined.

4. Whisk wet and dry ingredients together. Pour in melted coconut oil and stir to combine — it will seem as though the oil will never incorporate, but just keep going. It will. Fold in chocolate chips or chopped chocolate.

5. Divide the batter between the two loaf pans, filling them about two-thirds full. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cakes are golden brown on top and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pan for 20 minutes, then turn them out onto a plate.

slice of orange coffee cake with chocolate


  1. My mother always advised to ‘Bloom where you’re planted’. This has been wonderful advice as I have moved several times in the last five years. It’s easy to get caught up in the things you don’t like about a new town or be sad about the friends you are leaving, but the real challenge is to start over again beautifully each time.

  2. My Mom’s advice—pretty is and pretty does and if the shoe fits, wear it.
    Oh yeah—-lots of advice about clean bra straps. Writing this made me laugh.
    Thank you. I am a HUGE proponent of Fair Trade. Yahoo for you for giving it some ‘air’ time. The coffee cake by the way looks divine. I love the mix of ingredients and flavors.

  3. So many of my mom’ wisest words related to the kitchen and cooking! Roll a lemon before slicing to make it juicier, don’t be fooled by the ultra skinny asparagus, go for the uniformly thicker stalks, how to slice onions, etc. But the best: taste, taste, taste throughout the cooking process!

  4. My mother put a very strong emphasis on labeling things correctly. Especially when I kept loosing my water bottles at school. And, also keeping copies of important documents, because you may never know when you need them. Both proved very useful in life.

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  6. My Mom often said, “Don’t try to put 20lbs in a 10lb sack!” — Whenever I was trying to do way too much in a short amount of time, especially back in high school and college. I think she got it from her mom. :) She doesn’t remind me of this quite as often now, but I still remember it as a valid point that I would probably do well to follow. :)

  7. My mother always said “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. I can’t say that I’m as good about this as she was, but I am inspired by the example she set. She was an amazing woman who raised 6 children, worked in an office M-F, and still managed to make a home-cooked dinner every day. I still don’t know how she did it.

  8. My mom always carried sea salt in her purse, which I thought was crazy, but now I do the same thing. Tiny Maldon tins are a lifesaver.

  9. When I got married, my mother advised me not to eat crackers in bed…she said it does not make for a comfortable night’s sleep.

  10. My mom always told us to help out any elderly people and to respect them. I think it’s an awesome advice.

  11. I’m not sure if your giveaway is open to Canadians (just in case: always make space in your life for something you enjoy), but that recipe looks amazing!

  12. Photos that old friends have posted of me on Facebook from high school has confirmed that my mother was right, I looked much better when I wasn’t wearing baggy Tshirts with pictures of waterfalls and fairies on them in my Grateful Dead phase.

  13. My mother and I have different ideas of the best advice she has given me over the years. According to her, our grandfather neglected to pass down these critical messages to her: “get your wisdom teeth removed” and “buy real estate” while you’re young. However, the best advice she has ever given me is “you can only control your own happiness, and no one else’s.” These wise words have helped me more than she knows. I love my mom!

  14. My mom enjoys weighing in on many subjects, but I think most of all, she wishes I’d wear lipstick more often.

  15. both the cake and the goodie bag look delicious.
    some of the best advice i got from my mom and ignored for a long time was to not pay attention to what other people thought about me. there was also a lot of “drink your milk”, “wear your hair down”, “don’t be so negative”… you really do appreciate your own mother so much more when you become a mother yourself!
    happy mother’s day to you and to your mom who i adore!

  16. I just made this in a 9×5 inch loaf pan and it’s perfect! I cooked it for 60 minutes because I was afraid the center wasn’t cooked through and it’s a tiny bit overdone on the edges. I think next time I would throw caution to the wind and take it out at 55 minutes.

    My mother died when I was 21 and sadly there is little from her life that I would want for my own. But I’m now a mother of 3 grown kids and a new grand-baby and my advice to them (learned from many years of experiences) is to be grateful. Learning to acknowledge the good things in my life – however small and seemingly incidental – has gotten me through some pretty tough times and made the good times even better.

  17. Mom handed out lots of advice, I promptly ignored most of it. But most the most helpful… Happiness is a choice. Second only to Never be dependent on a man, be able to take care of yourself so you always have options.

  18. My mom always said, “Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.” I chuckle about that when I hear someone say there are no stupid questions. Let’s face it, sometimes there are. :-)

  19. “Crying can be good exercise for them.”

    When my oldest daughter was a baby she had colic – for six months. Six. Months. Around month two I was about to break when she advised me to not fret over her crying so much because “crying is good exercise for her lungs. You should go sit on the stoop for a few minutes while she is in her crib safely exercising.”

    I am so glad I listened to her. I don’t know how I would have ever made it through those extremely challenging months of near-constant screaming had I not allowed myself to be ok with let her go for a few minutes. When I returned, I was much more able to soothe & comfort her than before I left. It was my first lesson on how necessary it is for mommas (& caregivers of all stripes!) to get rest.

  20. Although my Mom passed away when I was 18 years of age, she had a profound influence on how I live my life everyday. She taught me to be truthful and loyal; two qualities she embodied.

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  22. My mom allows me to be myself. Of course she offers her advice, but in the end she is always proud of my choices and who I have become.

  23. She taught me not to sweat the small stuff during high school when everything seemed so urgent and upsetting. I remember her tip today.

  24. My mother implicitly provides advice just by living her life in an organized, productive, thoughtful, kind, and generous way. But when asked, she gave me this advice: “Drink champagne!”


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