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Ad Hoc Grapefruit Cake Recipe – Delicious idea for Grapefruit!


Grapefruit is the last citrus fruit that I usually think of – it sort of gets lot in the fuzz among the stars: lemons, oranges and limes.  This is unfortunate though, as I absolutely love the flavor of grapefruit, especially when the bitter flavor is mixed with sugar and sweet ingredients.  This cake was a rather odd recipe that really stuck out in the Ad Hoc cookbook from Thomas Keller’s restaurant in Napa Valley.

mixed dry ingredients

Part of the draw of this cake for me was the way that you were supposed to bake the cake first, then poke holes all over it and brush it with a grapefruit syrup (a good amount too).  Doing this reminded me of a Tres Leches cake – trust me, every cake should be infused somehow with liquid – you just can’t deny the moisture it adds. I thought when I was adding the liquid that it was going to turn the cake into mush, but trust me, keep going and add all of the syrup the recipe calls for, you’ll like the results.

Grapefruit cake mixing

I topped the cake with some simple powdered frosting, packed it with grapefruit zest and served it up and it was a hit.  If grapefruit isn’t your think, try using another citrus fruit like lemon or lime.  The other benefit of this cake? It’s totally simple to create.  Here’s what to do:

Wet Ingredients:

Grapefruit cake batter
  • Zest of 1 whole grapefruit – around 2 Tbsp. diced up
  • 1 cup of grapefruit juice (fresh squeezed – you’ll need around 2-3 grapefruits total here)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup + 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla paste if you can find it

Dry Ingredients

baked grapefruit cake
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 and 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

Grapefruit Frosting Ingredients

Grapefruit cake
  • 3/4 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh grapefruit juice


Again, the cake is fairly easy to produce.  Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Start by bringing together all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl – sift them together.

In a separate bowl or in the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the 2/3 cup of sugar and eggs and mix together with the whisk attachment (or your whisk) for a few minutes until well combined.  Whisk in the milk, then the oil and finally the vanilla and grapefruit zest.  Whisk all together until well combined, then lower the speed of your mixer and add the dry ingredients in three parts, one at a time, until well incorporated.  The cake batter will be fairly wet, this is to be expected.

Lightly oil a loaf pan or other cake pan (7 cup capacity) and pour in the batter.  Cut a small length-wise slit down the cake with a paring knife before placing in the oven – this will create a nice crack in the cake once it’s done.  Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.  Then turn the cake 180 so it browns evenly, then bake for another 30 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out with just a few crumbs clinging to it.

While the cake is baking, prepare the syrup and the frosting.  For the syrup, simply add the cup of granulated sugar and grapefruit juice to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Let simmer until the sugar dissolves, then kill the heat and set aside for the cake to finish.  For the frosting, simply whisk or stir together the powdered sugar and 2 Tbsp. grapefruit juice.  Add some more sugar if you aren’t happy with the consistency.

Once the cake is finished, remove it from the oven and poke holes all over the cake with a small skewer (every 1/2″ or so).  Then proceed to brush all of the syrup into the cake, you may need to let it soak in for a minute before proceeding, but make sure you put all of the syrup into the cake.  Finally, remove it from the baking dish and top with the frosting before serving.  Enjoy!


5 comments for “Ad Hoc Grapefruit Cake Recipe – Delicious idea for Grapefruit!”

  1. Cool, I have not seen a grapefruit cake yet, this sounds great. I love grapefruits and I will definitely try this one. yummy.

    Posted by Barbara | April 13, 2010, 3:17 am
  2. This was so VERY good – thanks Adrian!

    Posted by Katharine | May 6, 2010, 8:32 am
  3. Totally LOVE the cookbook, this cake is one of the highlights in my opinion.

    Posted by Adrian Mott | May 17, 2010, 6:22 pm
  4. The cake looks yummy…it has turned out so well…and the recipe looks easy to follow….will try it…thank you

    Posted by Jo | July 22, 2010, 4:27 pm
  5. I made this recipe as is and it was great. Just a warning-it is very sweet! I will make this again definitely!

    Posted by Christine Sz | October 26, 2011, 10:57 pm

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