My aunt and uncle now spend half the year in Arizona, lucky devils!! We miss them, but I'm glad that they're not enduring this crazy winter we're living through here in the Northeast. A few weeks ago, they sent some warmth back East in the form of a large box of oranges and grapefruits, picked right from their very own garden. They were absolutely delicious and we enjoyed several pieces right away, juice running down our chins. Now, most people I know would be content to just eat them as is, but me, being the obsessed sort of baker that I am, had to find a way to use them in another form. Thank God for my obsession, because, and I do not say this lightly, I think this may be one of my all-time favorite cakes--simple, ultra-moist and sweet, yet with the subtle tang of grapefruit running throughout. It's in the cake, the syrup that infuses the cake and the glaze as well. If you like grapefruit (and even if you don't really) you've got to try this!!
Here's the star of the hour--note the snow piled high against the window! Did I let it get me down--no Sir! On the contrary, making this tropical treat transported me to warm sunny skies, at least for as long as this wonderful cake lasted! You start by rubbing grapefruit zest into the sugar so that your batter has a wonderful citrusy taste and smell.
The batter has buttermilk in it as well, keeping everything extra moist. The whole thing gets baked in a loaf pan lined with parchment paper for easy removal.
While the cake is baking you make a simple syrup of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and sugar. Then after the cake comes out of the oven and sits for 10 minutes, you poke holes in it with a toothpick and pour grapefruit goodness deep into the cake.
Once the cake has absorbed all of that wonderful syrup, you make the glaze, again just a simple mixture of grapefruit juice and confectioner's sugar, and drizzle it all over the cake.
You let it sit for a little while and the most wonderful thing then happens--the glaze hardens ever so slightly, sort of the way it does on a glazed doughnut, so that what you're left with is an incredibly moist and flavorful cake, surrounded by a crunchy, kind of sticky and sugary coating. It's so good and totally addictive! I bake a lot and generally find that I can take a bite and then walk away--not so with this! Every time I walked into the kitchen, I had to cut another sliver! It's that good!! Maybe I'll be getting another box of these amazing grapefruits soon--hint, hint, my Arizona connection!!
Arizona Grapefruit Cake
Makes about 8-10 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes for cake, another 5-10 minutes for syrup and glaze; Bake Time: About 1 hour
For the Cake
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon finely grated grapefruit zest
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup buttermilk, well-shaken
For the Syrup
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
- 1/3 cup sugar
For the Glaze
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
- 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Butter a 9 1/2 x 5 1/2 loaf pan and line with enough parchment paper that it hangs well over the edges for easy removal of the cooled cake.
2. To make the cake, first place the sugar and the grapefruit zest in a small bowl. Rub the mixture between your fingers so that the zest and sugar become combined.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar mixture for 2-3 minutes on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between the additions and beating well. Mix in the vanilla.
4. Into a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking soda and salt. Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture and mix on low speed, until just combined. Then, in two more additions, alternate the buttermilk and the rest of the dry ingredients, mixing until only combined and scraping down the sides of the bowl in between the additions. Pour the batter into the lined loaf pan.
5. Bake cake for 55-60 minutes, until the top is puffed and golden and a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes on a rack.
6. To make the syrup, mix the grapefruit juice and sugar together in a small saucepan. Over medium heat, bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let it boil for 1 minute and then take it off the heat. Using a toothpick, poke holes all over the top of the cake. Gradually pour the syrup over the cake, letting it absorb first and then adding more. Use a pastry brush to spread it evenly. When all of the syrup has been added, let the cake cool completely.
7. When cake is cool, lift up the parchment paper and remove the cake from the pan and set on the counter. Leave the parchment paper under the cake.
8. To make the glaze, whisk together the confectioner's sugar and grapefruit juice until smooth. You want to be able to drizzle the glaze over the cake, so if it's too thick add a bit more grapefruit juice and if it's too thin, a bit more sugar. When consistency is right, wave the whisk over the cake to drizzle the glaze everywhere. Once glaze has dried, remove the parchment paper, transfer to a plate and serve.
9. I'm told this lasts covered at room temperature for 2-3 days, but I wouldn't know.
Note: Recipe adapted from Wintersweet by Tammy Donroe Inman. I didn't really change anything--the recipe is pretty much perfection!!