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Pink Grapefruit Cake

As we recover from piles of snow and blizzard blasts, winter citrus has a way of showing up just at the right time.  Meyer lemons, blood oranges, sweet limes, and more – there is nothing more refreshing than citrus season to chase away dreary skies and awaken the senses. Especially when it arrives as a cheery, tart yet sweet, grapefruit cake.

Pink Grapefruit Cake. A light olive oil cake filled with grapefruit curd and frosted with whipped vanilla buttercream - perfect for spring brunches, showers and birthdays | by Tessa Huff for TheCakeBlog.com

Sweet mixed with a touch of bitterness, grapefruit makes for a mellow yet unexpected flavor within a layer cake.  While grapefruit might not be as tart and mouth-puckering as some of its citrus cousins, it is perfectly vibrant yet smooth within a cake and filling.  Suffering from the post-holiday or just plain winter blues?  Brighten up your week with this grapefruit cake!

Pink Grapefruit Cake. A light olive oil cake filled with grapefruit curd and frosted with whipped vanilla buttercream - perfect for spring brunches, showers and birthdays | by Tessa Huff for TheCakeBlog.com

Citrus pairs perfectly with a fresh olive oil cake, and that is exactly what I’ve done here.  Using a light, extra virgin olive oil keeps the cake extra moist and slightly floral.  The added poppy seeds add a bit of texture within the tender layers of cake.  The grapefruit curd filling is silky smooth without being too rich or heavy.  Made with sweetened condensed milk instead of eggs, this curd is a game changer.  I decided to cut my cakes in half to make multiple layers for the curd to be spread in between and almost soak in, which moistened each layer of cake even further.  A simple whipped vanilla buttercream was used to frost the cake.  While sometimes this type of buttercream is too sweet for my palette, I find that it pairs well with the slightly bitter and floral elements of the rest of the cake.

Pink Grapefruit Cake. A light olive oil cake filled with grapefruit curd and frosted with whipped vanilla buttercream - perfect for spring brunches, showers and birthdays | by Tessa Huff for TheCakeBlog.com

PINK GRAPEFRUIT CAKE
a recipe by Tessa Huff

For the Olive Oil Cake:
1 cup cake flour
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk (scant 1 cup)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour three 6-inch cake pans and set aside.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Stir in the poppy seeds and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth.
  4. Add in the olive oil and sugar.  Mix together on medium speed for about 2 minutes.
  5. With the mixer running on low, add in the eggs and egg yolk – one at a time.
  6. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  7. In alternating batches (starting and ending with the dry ingredients), add in the flour and the buttermilk with the mixer on low.
  8. Once incorporated, mix on medium for no loner than about 20 seconds, or until the batter is smooth.
  9. Evenly distribute into the cake pans and bake for about 26 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.
  10. Let cool on a wire rack for about 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cake from their pans.
  11. Allow cakes to completely cool (or even chill in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic) before slicing the cakes in half.

For the Grapefruit Curd:
(adapted from Elizabeth Falkner’s “Demolition Desserts”)

2 teaspoons gelatin powder
3/4 granulated sugar
3/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice, divided
1 stick unsalted butter, diced
scant 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

  1. Sprinkle the gelatin in a small bowl.  Gently stir in a few tablespoons of the grapefruit juice and set aside to bloom (about 5 minutes).
  2. Meanwhile, place the sugar, grapefruit juice, and butter in a medium saucepan.
  3. While stirring, bring mixture to a simmer.
  4. Whisk in the gelatine mixture and continue to stir over low heat for a couple minutes, or until you are certain that the gelatine has dissolved.
  5. Remove from heat and place into a heat-proof container.
  6. Stir in the condensed milk and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until set.

For the Whipped Vanilla Buttercream:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 to 3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
splash milk, if necessary
gel food coloring (optional)

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium until smooth.
  2. With the mixer on low, gradually add in the sugar and vanilla.
  3. Once incorporated, turn the mixer up to medium-high for about 2 to 4 minutes, or until light,fluffy, and very pale in color.
  4. Add in milk or more sugar until desired consistency and mix until incorporated, if necessary.
  5. Use gel food coloring to tint the frosting, if desired.

Recipe Notes:

  • Cake recipe may be baked in two 8 or 9-inch cake pans.
  • Choose a more floral olive oil as opposed to a grassy one.
  • Use buttercream to create a dam for the grapefruit curd by piping a ring of buttercream around the edge of each layer of cake before filling with the curd.
  • Once filled with the grapefruit curd, crumb coat and chill to set (about 20 minutes) before frosting the cake – this helps to stabilize the curd a bit, making it easier to frost.
  • To create the buttercream watercolor effect, divide the buttercream into 3 to 4 bowls and tint each the color of your choice.  Starting at the bottom, begin frosting with your first color of buttercream, then gradually add in more colors as you make your way up the sides of the cake.  Use the last color to frost the top of the cake.  Use any leftover frosting in each color to add layers of color for a more integrated, watercolor look.  Use an off-set spatula to keep things looking rustic and organic.

Pink Grapefruit Cake. A light olive oil cake filled with grapefruit curd and frosted with whipped vanilla buttercream - perfect for spring brunches, showers and birthdays | by Tessa Huff for TheCakeBlog.com

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