If you had told me I'd become obsessed with a grapefruit cake, I wouldn't have believed you. I like grapefruit, yes, but I tend to drink it - in sodas or cocktails. I have never once thought about baking with it. I had no idea what I was missing.
It started with a pretty photo of a grapefruit cake with buttercream icing (yet another experiment I'll have to undertake) that I found on Pinterest. I pinned it because the color of the frosting was irresistable, but then I just had to Google "grapefruit cake" and see what came up. What did I find? A recipe from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home, which I happened to own anyway (a clear sign that I need to spend an afternoon sifting through my many cookbooks and tagging what I want to cook!).
I made it that very afternoon, following Keller's directions exactly. But I ran into an issue with unmolding the cake after the syrup had soaked in and I lost the entire top of it. So it was ugly, to say the least, and I didn't bother making the glaze. But I tasted it and kept tasting it and I'm pretty sure over the next 24 hours ate most of it myself. So I made another one.
This time I altered the technique a little, which was more successful for me. And this time I'm trying to pace myself just a bit, maybe even share with others. So good! If you don't believe me, try it for yourself.
Pink Grapefruit Cake
(adapted from Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon grated pink (or red) grapefruit zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup strained fresh pink (or red) grapefruit juice (approximately 4 large grapefruit)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh pink (or red) grapefruit juice
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Grease a 10-by-4-inch or 9-by-5-inch loaf pan (or a pan with a 7-cup capacity). Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
2. Sift the flour and baking powder together and stir in the salt. Set aside.
3. Combine the sugar and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat at medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is thickened and the whisk leaves a trail. Beat in the milk, then the oil, grapefruit zest, and vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate; scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
4. Spread the batter in the pan. Put the pan on a small baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the pan around so the cake will color evenly and bake for another 30 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack.
5. Meanwhile, combine the grapefruit juice and sugar in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and simmer for 1 minute. Set aside.
6. After the cake has cooled for about 10 minutes, use a long skewer to poke deep holes every 3/4 inch or so all over the top of the cake. Carefully unmold it onto a cooling rack, then turn it right side up.
7. Begin brushing the grapefruit syrup over the top of the cake. It may be necessary at times to wait for the syrup to soak in, but continue until you've used all the syrup. Let the cake cool to room temperature.
8. Stir the powdered sugar and grapefruit juice together in a bowl until smooth. Using a spoon, drizzle the icing on a diagonal over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Slice the cake and serve. (The cake keeps well, loosely covered at room temperature, for up to 2 days.)
Serves 8-10 (or one)
1. The original recipe calls for a light oiling of the pan, no flouring or lining with parchment paper. However, on my second attempt at making this cake, with the tweaked unmolding technique and a nonstick loaf pan, two of my corners still got stuck in the pan and came off. So I looked at one of Ina Garten's recipes for her lemon yogurt cake (made in much the same way as this cake) and substituted her greasing directions instead.
2. The original recipe calls for putting the syrup on the cake while it was still hot and in the pan, then unmolding it. I did this and lost the top of my cake. Taking the cake out of the pan before adding the syrup was the answer and I didn't have any issue with the cake soaking up the syrup, even after 10 minutes of cooling.
3. I didn't use all of my syrup - probably 2/3 of it. Once the cake seemed really saturated, I stopped. On my first attempt, I used all of the syrup and the top got a little gummy because it couldn't soak up any more. That may have been why I lost the top.
4. If you're using a darker or nonstick coated pan, lower the oven temperature to 325 so that the crust doesn't darken too much. I cooked it for the same length of time at the lower temperature and it was perfect.