The art of baking: Coconut Ghriba

PUBLISHED: 11:46 08 November 2016 | UPDATED: 11:46 08 November 2016

Coconut ghriba by Carol Kearns

Coconut ghriba by Carol Kearns

Carol Kearns

Known as The Cake Lady when a mature student at Norwich University of the Arts, Carol Kearns of Wymondham combines a love of baking with a talent for illustration

This authentic recipe for coconut ghriba, a type of Moroccan cookie, was kindly given to me by Fatima, the chef at the superb Riad Le Calife in Fez. On arrival, the manager welcomed my husband and me with mint tea and a selection of exquisite Moroccan cookies, including some of these delicious coconut ghriba. Having associated Morocco more with couscous and tagines, I was surprised to find patisseries filled with delicate biscuits, cakes and pastries of the type I’d only previously seen in France or Italy. Spotting some recipe books in the breakfast room of the riad, I couldn’t resist leafing through them (even though they were in French) in the hope of finding recipes for the type of biscuits we’d eaten on arrival.

Jasmine, the riad owner, noticed my curiosity and, when I explained about The Art of Baking column and how, having tasted their delicious biscuits, I was very interested in including a Moroccan cookie recipe in the EDP Norfolk magazine, I was invited into the kitchen where Fatima showed me how to make a number of typical Moroccan dishes as well as sharing some of her cookie recipes with me.

I’m delighted with the results of this recipe as the ghriba taste just like the ones we ate on holiday. In return for the Moroccan recipes I promised to send a recipe for a typically British cake. I wonder if the lovely people we met at the Riad Le Calife are now enjoying rock cakes or slices of cherry and almond cake with their mint tea!

Ingredients (makes 12 biscuits)

1 large egg

50g icing sugar, sifted

2 tbsp sunflower oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g desiccated coconut

50g semolina

1 tsp baking powder, sifted

1 tbsp orange blossom water (optional)

icing sugar

You will need

1 baking sheet

non-stick liner or baking parchment

1 Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark four and line the baking sheet.

2 Place the egg, sugar, oil and vanilla extract into a mixing bowl and beat together with a wooden spoon.

3 Stir in the desiccated coconut, semolina and baking powder and mix well. Cover the bowl with cling film and allow to stand for 10 minutes (this gives the finished biscuits a lovely texture and makes it much easier to shape them).

4 Put the orange blossom water (or just plain water) into a small dish and use to moisten your hands before picking up a walnut-sized piece of the dough and firming it into a ball shape. Flatten this slightly between your palms and place on the baking sheet. Repeat until you have 12 equal sized biscuits.

5 Bake in the middle of the oven for about 10 minutes until pale golden around the edges and slightly soft in the middle - the biscuits will be tough if they are overcooked.

6 Leave the biscuits on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes to firm up and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Lightly dust with icing sugar.

7 These biscuits keep well stored in an airtight container.

See more of Carol’s recipes and baking tips at; her illustration work can be seen at

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