Fresh Grapefruit Cake

Years ago, Lisa and I shared a slice of Grapefruit Cake at Valerie, when her exquisite bakery/confectionery counter was at DTLA’s Grand Central Market. It was divine and I never forgot it. All this time, I have vowed to myself that I would make a cake like that someday.

This winter, on two occasions I have been gifted with lots of fresh grapefruit from a very kind person’s tree so, I have been playing with recipes to perfect my own Fresh Grapefruit Cake. 

On Leap Day, I hosted friends for what unfolded to be a perfect day on so many levels. Our afternoon together had everyone swooning over my most perfect rendition ever, of a Fresh Grapefruit Cake.

Lately I have been waxing poetic about the beauty and grace of not cooking with recipes, and when it comes to baking, I’m more inclined to follow one ;). Even though, admittedly, I did not measure everything perfectly for this cake, the following is my best recall of what I did the other day. I promise that the result was the divination of one of the best cakes I have ever baked and had the privilege to serve.

I hope you love this cake as much as I do and, final note – here is the true beauty of this recipe. Any citrus may be substituted! The cake is not terribly sweet, so you may even use lemons. Just be generous with the zest for the sugar-mix, have fun with this, and don’t forget to add the love.

Fresh Grapefruit Cake

Prepare an 8-inch round cake pan by rubbing sides and bottom with soft butter. Dust with granulated sugar to coat sides of pan (it’s OK if the bottom gets some too). Cut an 8-inch round piece of parchment paper and place securely in bottom of pan. Preheat oven to 350F.

½ cup Greek-style (whole milk) plain yogurt 

3 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

Freshly grated zest of 2 large grapefruits (reserve whole zested grapefruit)

Whisk yogurt and eggs together in large mixing bowl. 

In medium bowl, place sugar and fresh zest. With clean hands, massage the zest into the sugar with your fingers; this is one of the real tricks to this recipe! Have fun with this, and when combined well, scrape your fingers with a rubber spatula into the bowl to yield as much citrus-sugar as possible into the recipe. (When you rinse your hands, notice the wonderful aroma left on your fingers!) Blend citrus-sugar with yogurt and eggs.

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup almond meal (may substitute flour for almond meal)

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

½ cup oil (may use a light/light-colored olive oil, vegetable/sunflower oil)

2 drops grapefruit (culinary) essential oil (optional; seek sources online)

Combine flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt; add to yogurt mixture. Finally add oil (and essential oil if using) and whisk well to combine, as adding the oil makes the mixture tend to separate. Do not overmix, the mix is ready once all ingredients are smoothly incorporated.

Gently pour batter into prepared pan, and bake for 30-35 minutes, until cake is spring-y to the touch and tests done. Check after 30 minutes and test (insert toothpick, must come out clean). Add more time in 2-minute intervals, testing for clean-toothpick result; do not overbake!

While cake is baking, prepare glaze:

1/3 cup fresh grapefruit juice (squeeze fresh juice from zested grapefruits)

¾ cup powdered sugar

Whisk juice and sugar together to render a smooth glaze.

When cake is baked, cool in pan on wire rack for up to 30 minutes. Generously coat the bottom of a serving plate (or a sizeable, nice shallow container to store cake) with about ½ of the glaze. Gently turn the cake out of the pan, handling very gently to turn it upside down onto the plate with glaze. Peel away the parchment paper and with pastry brush, paint the top of the cake with glaze, allowing the glaze to coat the sides of the cake as well. You do not need to use all of the glaze, just be relatively generous in coating the bottom and top of cake, this is key to the flavor of the cake.

Allow to sit for at least 11 minutes 😉 before serving, if possible. 

Sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve.

Yields about 8 servings.

Diana Scalia

Diana Scalia

Your Chef and Tour Maestra

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