Cakeover! Glorious Pink Grapefruit Cake

You may have heard by now that I’m in the midst of promoting my book, so I’ve been a bit negligent of my food-making blog entries. Well, today I’m rectifying that (if only temporarily) with the newest recipe: My Glorious Pink Grapefruit Cake! The inspiration for this cake comes from those lemon and lime cakes in the 1970s – the period I write about in my book. As a kid growing up in Louisiana, I hated grapefruit (don’t all children?). As I’ve aged (mellowed?) over the decades, however, I’ve come to love the fruit – especially the pink variety. That said, I do not have any recollections of a cake featuring it (confession: I haven’t scoured the internet to find a grapefruit cake recipe – I’m sure they’re out there). I figure grapefruit isn’t a popular flavor choice for cake because it’s the ugly step-child of the citrus family. Well, no longer! Today it takes center stage in this cakeover!

Having made (and LOVED) lemon and lime cakes for years, I have to say that this pink grapefruit cake is as satisfying as (if not more-so) either of those – and makes me think I should also try doing a tangerine cake one day. You’ve been warned!


For the cake:
Zest of two large pink grapefruit (Should yield 2 tablespoons or more. Reserve half for the frosting.)
2 cups of fresh-squeezed pink grapefruit juice
1.5 cups of sugar
2.5 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon of kosher salt
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
½ cup of vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla

For the frosting:
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon of pink grapefruit zest (or half of the zest of 2 grapefruit)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
5 cups of confectioner’s sugar
2-3 tablespoons of sour cream


For the cake:
1 – Generously butter the bottoms and sides of three 7-inch cake pans.
2 – Zest and juice the two large pink grapefruit; remove the seeds. Some of the pulp will be in the juice – keep it in! This should yield about two cups of juice and at least two tablespoons of zest. 
3 – In a small saucepan, combine half of the zest, all of the juice, and the sugar and bring it all to a boil on high heat. After it comes to a full boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the mixture to reduce and form a syrup – this will yield about one cup of grapefruit juice syrup. Remove from heat, allow to cool down completely.
4 – In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and kosher salt with a whisk. Set aside.
5 – With a kitchen mixer (or hand mixer) on medium speed, blend the softened butter, vegetable oil, and grapefruit syrup, about a minute.
6 – Add the dry ingredients a cup at a time until fully mixed – scrape the sides of the mixing bowl as needed. 
7 – With the mixer on medium-low, add each of the three eggs, one at a time, then blend in the vanilla until everything is fully incorporated.
8 – Split the batter evenly between the three baking pans and bake at 325 for 25-30 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

This cake is intentionally dense with intense, grapefruity flavor – but you can make it fluffier by adding another half cup of flour. The pink grapefruit syrup I made to create this recipe produces a rich, fruity cake, and the grapefruit zest in the frosting helps balance the sweet with the tang. Yum!

For the frosting:
1 – Mix the softened butter, cream cheese, grapefruit zest, vanilla, and sea salt on medium until fully blended. 
2 – Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time on medium-low speed until fully blended. Add 2-3 tablespoons of sour cream and mix until you have a consistency you like.

C’est tout!

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Morris Ardoin’s book, STONE MOTEL – MEMOIRS of a CAJUN BOY can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indibound, and other booksellers, and is also available as an audiobook on Audible.

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