I was intrigued recently when a friend on Facebook updated her status to say she was making a grapefruit cake. I usually just slice mine in half and sprinkle a little sugar on top for a winter breakfast treat. But when I started to think of using grapefruit just as you would any other citrus, I got excited. Cakes, sorbets, salad dressings and fish dishes. This is clearly not just a breakfast food.
Thankfully Ellen responded promptly to my Facebook request for the recipe and within a day I had one baking in my oven. After reading through the recipe, I quickly realized this wasn't some sexy cake with pillowy peaks of icing that belonged on the pages of a food magazine. It was a humble cake, baked in loaf pan and drizzled with a thin icing.
The cake reminded me of a lemon bundt cake my grandmother made a few times, but that cake had an overpowering lemon flavor that must have come from Jell-O powder or something else clearly not once a lemon.
But this cake was better. In fact, the grapefruit flavor was very subtle and grew slightly stronger in the days after it was baked. That humble little cake was really beautiful with its delicate, dense and slightly sweet flavor. The interior was peppered with grapefruit zest and the top was sticky moist with a grapefruit syrup.
The fact that the cake resembled a loaf of sweet bread was alright by me. It made me feel a little less indulgent as I shoved a piece in my mouth right over the sink for a mid-morning snack.
Call it dessert or call it breakfast, but this is a cake recipe to keep around.
Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home
2 cups flour
1 ¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup canola oil
1 tablespoon grated pink grapefruit zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup strained fresh pink grapefruit juice
2/3 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh grapefruit juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 10x4 or 9x5 inch pan or lightly oil it.
Sift flour and baking powder. Stir in the salt. Set aside.
Combine the sugar and eggs in a mixer and beat at medium speed for 3 minutes until the mixture is thickened. 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.
Spread batter in the pan. Put the pan on a small baking sheet and bake for 30 min. Turn the pan around and bake for another 30 min. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack.
Meanwhile, combine the grapefruit juice and sugar in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Simmer one minute. Set aside.
When you remove the cake from the oven, using a long skewer, poke deep holes every ¾ inch or so all over the top. Immediately begin brushing the syrup over the cake. It may be necessary to wait for the syrup to soak in, but continue until you’ve used all the syrup. Let the cake cook for about 10 min.
Unmold the cake onto a cooling rack. Turn it right side up, and let cool to room temperature.
Stir the powdered sugar and grapefruit juice together in a bowl until smooth. Using a soon, drizzle the icing on a diagonal over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Slice and serve. Enjoy!