Produce starts to get a little sparser this time of year, and while bakers can find pals in preserves (mince pies! lemon curd!), chocolate (rum balls! truffles!), and sturdy fall apples (pies! dumplings! fritters!), I tend to fall really hard for winter citrus as the colder weather creeps in. And so, Grapefruit Cake.
This cake is soft and moist, with a pale crumb flecked by bits of grapefruit pulp. The frosting is a simple American-style buttercream, to which I added a few drops of natural red colouring for extra pink purdiness (I used this one by Bakers Supply). The recipe does call for Earth Balance, but a homemade butter substitute should work fine (just don’t use margarine). Yes, there is a lot of it called for, but this is cake, after all, and cake shouldn’t make you feel bad so just go with it.
Did you know that you can make a fruity caramel by adding fruit juice where you would normally stir in coconut (or dairy) milk? Yep. Fruity and buttery and rich, with bits of grapefruit pulp suspended in it, resembling a stained glass window. It pools just slightly around the bottom of the cake, which gleefully soaks it up, adding yet another layer of grapefruit flavour. So, while the caramel is definitely optional, I will say it’s pretty great.
All together you’ll need around 5-6 grapefruits for this cake, excluding the garnish. Here’s a breakdown of how you’ll be using them: 3 are sliced and broiled (to remove extra juice and breakdown the fibers) and pulled apart, to be folded into the cake batter. Zest these grapefruits before peeling. You’ll need a total of 1 to 1 1/4 cups of juice for batter, frosting, and caramel, which for me worked out to 2.5 grapefruits. For the candied grapefruits on top, I thinly sliced that last half and simmered the slices in sugar and water.
Broiled Grapefruit Cake Recipe
Broiled Grapefruit Cake
For the Broiled Grapefruit
- 3 grapefruits, peeled and sliced
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
For the Cake
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cup Earth Balance
- 1 tbsp grapefruit zest
- 1/4 cup grapefruit juice
- 3/4 cup almond milk
- 3 tbsp corn starch
- 3 tbsp water
- 2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
For the frosting
- 1 cup Earth Balance
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup grapefruit juice
- 8 cup icing sugar
- 3-4 drop natural red food colouring (optional)
For the Grapefruit Caramel
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 tbsp Earth Balance
- 1/4 cup grapefruit juice
Broil the Grapefruit
- Make sure the grapefruit slices don't have any seeds and remove as much pith as possible. Arrange the slices in one layer and sprinkle with brown sugar.
- Broil for 6-8 minutes, or alternatively bake at 425F for 15-18 minutes, until the slices have released a good amount of juice and started to carmelize. Let cool enough to handle.
For the Cake
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and line 3 6'' cake pans with parchment paper.
- Mix grapefruit juice and almond milk and set aside to let curdle.
- Mix cornstarch and water and set aside.
- Take the broiled grapefruit slices and separate the pulp segments from the pith with a fork. It should come away easily and you'll have a little mound of grapefruit pulp strands.
- In a medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients and grapefruit zest.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream Earth Balance and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in cornstarch mix, then add in dry ingredients and almond milk mixture in increments. Add in grapefruit pulp and stir until incorporated.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the tops (the batter is fairly thick). Bake for about 32 minutes, until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool.
For the Buttercream
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the Earth Balance. Add in the 1/2 cup of grapefruit juice and a few drops of natural food colouring (if using).
- Add in icing sugar a cup at a time, scraping down sides as needed. Test the consistency of the frosting and add extra grapefruit juice if needed. Beat until fluffy. Use at room temperature.
For the Caramel
- Assemble your cake before making the caramel, leveling your cakes with a serrated knife (if needed), layering cake and frosting, and finishing with a coat of frosting all around. Refrigerate the cake so the frosting firms up and the cake is stable.
- Have all your ingredients ready near the stove. Place the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
- Once the sugar starts to melt, stir constantly until it is fully dissolved, fragrant, and richly coloured.
- Remove from heat, and add Earth Balance, a tbsp at a time. The mixture will froth up. Stir vigorously.
- Stream in grapefruit juice, stirring as you go, until all the liquid is incorporated (I find it helpful to put the pan back on the still-warm burner while doing this). The mixture may seem a bit thin, but will firm up as it cools. Once the caramel has set up, pour into the centre top of the cake and spread, allowing some of the caramel to pour over the edges.
- Thats It. The cake is finally ready. Just top it off with grapefruits.