Thursday 9 February 2012

Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake

As I was dusting off my bundt tin this morning, I realised that the last time I'd used it was to make the Ginger Root Bundt Cake. In that post, I wrote about taking my friend Helen for a bon voyage lunch at Dinner. I gave her a slice of the cake on that blustery November day.

Chance has it that today we had our welcome home lunch, as she flew in yesterday from Hong Kong. So I wrapped a slice of this up for her and took it with me - a full circle of cake, literally and metaphorically.

Once again we had a delicious lunch. We followed the foodie hordes to the tiny Pitt Cue Co in Soho, which opened a few weeks ago after running a very successful food truck last summer. They say it's the best American style BBQ in London. I had some incredibly tender pork ribs (the St Louis ribs) with some creamy mash, a little slaw, some pickles and a hunk of charred sourdough. I was covered in sauce and made an absolute mess.

Despite being stuffed we shared the bourbon and salted caramel sticky toffee pudding & ice cream. It was seriously good, probably the best I've ever had. Their dessert menu doesn't seem to be fixed, but if you go and they mention it - pounce.

This bundt was born out of my desire to try baking with grapefruit, mainly inspired by Kaitlin. I've commented on several of her posts like this or this saying I really should try it out. So here I am.

Before this my main use for grapefruit was eating it for breakfast. Usually I jazz it up by sprinkling caster sugar over the top and blasting it with the blow torch to create a crackly caramel topping. I made this cake early this morning (as I had to make and photograph it before the aforementioned lunch) so I had the other grapefruit (as you can see in the 2nd photo) and remaining yogurt for breakfast, which felt quite neat.

This recipe popped up in my reader a few days ago. It's from a beautiful blog, The Yellow House. I particularly liked that you start by rubbing the zest into the brown sugar to release the oils (as in the photo above). In the end, it's a very light and fluffy cake. It's not very sweet but, as Sarah said, quite "zingy and earthy". The fruity olive oil comes through clearly, as does the characteristic grapefruit. I can smell the wholemeal flour (is that weird? Do other people smell it even if they can't taste it?).

I think it would be perfect as part of a weekend brunch spread - or for second breakfast, elevensies or afternoon tea (yes, I do eat like a hobbit).

Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake
(adapted from the The Yellow House, who adapted from Melissa Clark)

2 grapefruit
180g light brown sugar
50-100ml plain yogurt
3 eggs
180ml extra virgin olive oil
115g plain flour
85g wholemeal flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Carefully butter the bundt mould (especially the bottom), dust with flour then tap to remove the excess. Zest both grapefruit into a big bowl. Add the sugar and rub the two together as if you're making pastry (this releases the oils from the zest) and make sure there are no lumps. Sift the flours, baking power, bicarbonate and salt together into another bowl.

Juice one grapefruit into a measuring cup - hopefully this will be between 65-100ml (if not add some from the other fruit). Top up with the yogurt to 165ml. Add to the zest/sugar mix and whisk until combined. Pour in the olive oil, whisk, then add the eggs and whisk again until silky smooth. Tip the flour into the bowl and fold in with the whisk until everything is combined - don't overwork. Pour into the tin and put into the oven. Bake until golden brown and a skewer/toothpick comes out clean from the middle - mine took 35 minutes, but it could be up to about 50.

Leave to cool on a rack for 10 minutes or so then turn out - I put a plate or rack on top then flip over. You might need to give it a tap. Stir the icing sugar with a bit of leftover grapefruit juice until it's thick and smooth. Drizzle over the top of the cooled cake.

(Serves about 6-8)


  1. I've been inspired to bake with grapefruit because of Kaitlin too :) Absolutely adore the idea of caramelising the top of the bundt cake, I might have to borrow that idea at some point!

  2. Recently, I also thought about baking with grapefruit :) A tarte with some herbs? I haven't decided yet. But perhaps it will be your cake ... Looks so tempting! :)

  3. I love the light in that last still life shot of the cake. Grapefruit cake seems to be en vogue right now, and I feel I better give it a go before the citrus season ends. The cake looks delicious.

  4. emma, as always beautiful pictures to bring the recipe to life! i fell in love with the bourbon sticky toffee at pitt cue co too. i've been a fan since there mobile days... my brother who has lived in arizona declared them to be the real deal...

  5. Oh! Yay! I'm glad you tried baking with grapefruit :)

    I love rubbing the zest into the sugar (great pic of that, btw!). It feels good and smells wonderful. This cake looks extremely tempting :D

  6. The bottom photo is lovely, and makes the cake all the more so tempting!

  7. I've seen grapefruit crop up on a couple of blogs recently - that gorgeous cake on The Yellow House and some little loaves on London Bakes. I've been experimenting with blood orange this month but looks like it's time to try grapefruit now!

    On another note, I'm hugely jealous of your sticky toffee pudding experience - sounds divine (and it had bourbon in which presumably tasted nice - sometimes I guess we have to admit that a teeny tiny bit of alcohol in desserts does work!)

  8. Not sure why, as I love citrus fruit, but the idea of cooking with grapefruit never appealed to me until I saw your post! Looks delicious, a cake that isn't overly rich and will go nicely with a cup of tea (I'm thinking a light tea without milk). See, I'm already picturing myself eating it :o) Thanks for another lovely post.

  9. Really beautiful! I love the Georgia O'Keefe-like grapefruit photo, and I love the idea of incorporating grapefruit into baking. Olive oil cakes are so wonderfully moist; seems like a wonderful combination.

  10. I love olive oil cake (Dorie Greenspan's recipe is my favorite) so I can't WAIT to try this one with grapefruits since they're in season! Thanks for sharing.

  11. Very interesting! I've never had a grapefruit cake before :) Love the shot of the sugar ~

  12. Emma, this looks great! I am so into citrus these days and I always love grapefruit. I bet it adds such a nice surprising bite to the cake. Sign me up for tea time:)

  13. It sounds like a very nice flavour combination!

  14. Ha, I just saw this on the yellow house and was drooling over it there. I loved Melissa Clark's version. I just got a bundt pan. I think it's a sign!

  15. Stephcookie - I didn't caramelize the cake - it was the grapefruit! :P But why not, I bet that would be yummy.

    Schokozwerg - I don't know why we don't bake with grapefruit more - all the other citrus is used all the time. A herby tart sounds like a lovely idea too.

    la domestique- I love the light that comes through into the kitchen there. It's definitely worth giving a grapefruit cake a go while the season is in full flow :)

    COME CON ELLA- I'm so pleased you think they bring it to life, that's always my goal. I've also just read your post & you're so right - it's such a friendly and delicious place. I can't wait to go back! Though as you say, I'd better take a meat-loving friend :)

    Kaitlin- Well thank you for the inspiration! The rubbing is great - I'm going to have to try it with other cakes and so on too.

    Ben- Thanks! That photo has really grown on me - it was my least favourite of the series when I posted it.

    thelittleloaf - I love blood oranges too - I made the Nigella Clementine Cake with them ages ago and it was delicious. You should definitely go and try it out - the bourbon is just a hint so I think we ca give it our seal of approval ;)

    Claire- It's definitely the most unusual citrus fruit to see in cakes and so on. Odd really - it can't be because of the sourness as lemons are so much worse. It's perfect with tea - satisfying but not rich, as you say.

    Susan- I hadn't thought of the O'Keefe connection but now you've mentioned it I can't stop seeing it. It is lovely and moist - I was also really surprised by how incredibly light and fluffy this was.

    Wandering Voyager- I'll have to have a look at Dorie's cake, thanks for the tip! Always good to use up the seasonal fruit at its best :)

    Daisy@Nevertoosweet- I hadn't tried a grapefruit cake before either. I really did like it - it is an unusual taste but once I'd got used to the new sensation I loved it.

    yummy supper- Thanks Erin! Citrus is such a relief in the winter isn't it - so bright and sharp. See you at tea then!

    Nicole- It is a good one - unusual but lovely.

    Sara- I think it's a sign too! Good to hear you've got a bundt, they're awesome.

  16. Emma, this looks beautiful. I wonder whether it would be possible to make it with ground almonds in place of the flour? I'm going through a Moro phase.

  17. poiresauchocolat30 January 2013 at 22:04

    I don't see why not - perhaps replace the 85g wholemeal flour with the nuts? I'm not sure it'd work if you totally replaced it with nuts. (Though if you're looking for a pure citrus-almond-egg cake, you could try the Tarta de Santiago with grapefruit zest?)


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