Orange syrup cake (lemoenstroop koek)

“Lemoenstroop koek” means “orange syrup cake”, but because this cake contains dates, we think it should be called an “orange and date cake”.

Marietjie’s father – who had a sweet tooth – loved this cake for his birthday. Because his birthday coincided with their annual winter holiday on the farm, baking this cake became part of the routine holiday preparations.

The original birthday cake was baked it in a ring cake pan, but this recipe is for a smaller version and a small bread pan works well. If you need a larger cake, you can double the recipe and use a decent-sized ring pan.

The traditional recipe does not use spices, but Marietjie sneaks in a bit of cardamom. Apparently it freezes well.



  • 125 gram (½ cup) soft butter
  • ½ cup (125 ml) sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Orange zest of 1 orange
  • 1 cup (250 ml) flour
  • ¼ teaspoon (1 ml) salt
  • ½ teaspoon (2 ml) cardamom (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon ( 2 ml) bicarbonate of soda dissolved into
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon (100 ml) sour milk or buttermilk
  • ½ cup (125 ml) chopped dates
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) glazed mixed peel
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) chopped walnuts or pecan nuts
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra flour (to coat fruit)

Syrup option 1 (Marietjie’s aunt's recipe)

  • ½ cup (125 ml) orange juice
  • orange zest of 1 orange
  • ½ cup (125 ml) sugar
  • 1 cardamom pod (optional)


Syrup option 2 (Cook and Enjoy's recipe)

  • ¾ (180 ml) cup sugar
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 30 gram (2 tablespoons) butter
  • ½ cup (125 ml) orange juice
  • Grated zest of 1 orange (at least 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 cardamom pod (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Line a loaf pan with baking paper. (Or if you double the recipe, grease a ring pan.)
  3. Beat the butter and sugar until creamy.
  4. Add the beaten egg and orange zest and continue to mix well.
  5. Sift together the first lot of flour, salt and optional ground cardamom. Mix well with butter mixture.
  6. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the sour milk/buttermilk and add. Mix well.
  7. Coat the chopped dates and walnuts with 2 tablespoons of flour in bowl, and add to the mixture. Mix well.
  8. Turn the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes to an hour.

While the cake is baking, make either one of the two syrup recipes:

Syrup 1

  1. Heat the orange juice, add the sugar and dissolve.
  2. Bring to the boil, add orange zest and allow it to cool.

Syrup 2

  1. Dissolve the sugar in the water.
  2. Add butter and bring to the boil for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the orange juice and orange zest and allow it to cool slightly.

Pour syrup over cake. Allow the cake to cool in the pan before turning it out.