Grapefruit Cake

In college, I used to eat a grapefruit every day.  At least one, but sometimes two.  I would sprinkle a tiny bit of sugar on top and begin scooping away at it.  Looking back, the slurping sound that I made as I inhaled each spoonful must have been a bit off-putting, but at the time I didn’t think anything of it.

Citrus has always been my savior during the colder months.  I add lemon zest to pasta dishes, fresh orange juice to cocktails, and segments of grapefruit to salads.  It brings life to an otherwise dreary season.

I recently came up with the idea to do a new series here at A Thought For Food called “Back To Basics.” The purpose of these posts is to focus more on various cooking techniques and to spend time talking about the process of making things that one would normally buy at the store (is there anything better than homemade mayo?  freshly baked bread?).

This past weekend I featured a post on how to segment citrus.  It’s a technique that, up until recently, I had no idea how to do.  And, surprisingly, it isn’t difficult.

Along with these instructions, I wanted to give you all a recipe to use the technique and this cake is a wonderful way to showcase the punch and pow of grapefruit.  Normally, I’m a bit reluctant to bake with fruit as it can sometimes get lost in all of the sweetness, but this recipe really lets it shine.

Before you go off to bake this, it’s time for some exciting news!  I was recently asked by Edible Boston to write an article for them on the developing food scene in South Boston, which is the neighborhood Eric and I reside.  It was an honor to write this feature and I hope you all enjoy it!

Grapefruit Cake

(from Saveur Magazine)


3 pink grapefruits
2⁄3 cup unsalted butter, softened,
plus more
3 cups cake flour, plus more
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 3⁄4 cups sugar
2 eggs
3⁄4 cup milk
1 1⁄2 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 lb. cream cheese, softened
2 1⁄2 cups confectioners’ sugar


1. Zest 1 grapefruit to make 2 tsp. zest; set aside. Peel and segment grapefruits; set aside. Squeeze juice from remaining pulp, reserving 1⁄2 cup plus 1 tbsp.; set aside.

2. Heat oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 9″ x 13″ baking dish; set aside. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Into a large bowl, beat remaining butter and sugar with a handheld mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add 1⁄2 cup of the reserved juice, milk, and vanilla; stir. Add flour mixture; stir until combined. Line bottom of pan with half the reserved grapefruit; add batter; smooth top with a spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, 40–45 minutes; let cool.

3. In a large bowl, beat reserved zest, remaining juice, and cream cheese until fluffy. Add confectioners’ sugar 1⁄2 cup at a time; beat until smooth. Spread frosting over cake; top with the remaining grapefruit segments. Chill.


  • December 21, 2011 - 12:35 am

    Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence - Mmm this looks delicious. I love grapefruit as well.

    Great job on the article. We have some restaurants here in San Diego that are similar. Higher end bar food and craft beer. Love it! If I’m ever in Boston, I’ll be sure to check it out.


  • December 21, 2011 - 2:49 am

    argone - Congrats for the article and thank you for the recipe, I never use grapefruit in cakes but this is the opportunity to try !ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 6:45 am

    Heather - I absolutely love grapefruit! I grew up eating it all the time and it is certainly one of my favorite fruits. I rarely baked with grapefruits, since I enjoy them so much fresh, but not too long ago I made grapefruit scones that were wonderful. Now I can’t wait to make this grapefruit cake that looks heavenly!

    Congratulations on your feature!ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 7:25 am

    Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic - Congrats on the article Brian! I love Edible Boston! (and grapefruit) :)ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 7:39 am

    A Plum By Any Other Name - Congrats on Edible Boston! Your cake sounds fantastic too. Sometimes grapefruit don’t get no respect. 😉 And you’ll never heard a complaint about homemade mayo from me! Have a wonderful holiday!ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 7:41 am

    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar - I love how simple this recipe is! It’s beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 8:06 am

    Joanne - I hated grapefruits in college but now I ADORE them and eat them exactly the way you describe. Segment by segment with a little bit of sugar sprinkled on. LOVE.

    I’m pretty sure I could adore them even MORE in cake though. This sounds super fabulous!

    Also, CONGRATS on the feature in edible Boston! South Boston is actually one of the few parts of Boston where I didn’t get to spend much time so I’d love to learn more about the food scene there!ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 9:16 am

    Daisy - congrats on the edible Boston article! the grapefruit cake sounds most delightful.ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 9:41 am

    Winnie - Love the idea of this pink grapefruit cake Brian- it’s beautiful- and congrats on the Edible Boston feature! That is truly fabulous news :)ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 9:52 am

    Andrew Frishman - Mmnn. . . I loves me some grapefruit cake – especially when it gets hand-delivered to my door.

    Hay lo conocido, y hay lo desconocido, y en el medio. . . hay el. . . pomelo torta.ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 10:12 am

    Joy - The cake looks wonderful. Happy Holidays!ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 10:31 am

    Sukaina - Congratulations on your feature and may there be many more. Never had a cake with grapefruit but I love citrus of all kinds so I’m sure it will be good!ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 10:36 am

    Mary Ellen @ Pâte à Chew - I love anything with grapefruit, and I love that I’m seeing more recipes using it. Thanks for posting this recipe! And congrats on your feature!ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 10:53 am

    Lora @cakeduchess - Super exciting news to be in Edible Boston! Send me a copy, please:)Gorgeous grapefruit cake. I am spoiled w/all the beautiful citrus here this time of year. I can’t wait to try your cake out.xxReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 11:38 am

    Barbara | Creative Culinary - I’m not sure why but I seldom get grapefruit, yet I love it. This is so different and sounds so good. Citrus brings a touch of Lora’s sunshine to our bit colder environs and now I blame you entirely that I’m totally craving both grapefruit and this cake!ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 12:01 pm

    sippitysup - Grapefruit cake. I have a wonderfully old-fashioned recipe from The Brown Derby Restaurant I make this time of year. It has canned grapefruit if you can imagine such a thing! This version is much more modern and sophisticated. GREGReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 12:35 pm

    Deanna - Congrats on the article! I’m with you on citrus getting lost in baked goods. I normally keep it in tarts, but that means there is no need for me to show off my grapefruit segmenting skills.ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 1:17 pm

    Ashley - Congratulations on the article, Brian! That’s so huge. I love the edible communities magazines. And this cake – yes please.
    Happy Holidays!ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 1:48 pm

    foodwanderings - Congrats on the feature!ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 2:12 pm

    Lisa { AuthenticSuburbanGourmet } - Congrats on your article – super exciting!! This cake looks and sounds amazing. A must try! Happy Holidays!ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 2:37 pm

    Pepy @Indonesia Eats - Congrats on the edible Boston article!

    It sounds tempting! Another way to eat grapefruit in a cake :)ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 3:02 pm
  • December 21, 2011 - 3:02 pm

    Elizabeth - woops. Was trying to
    -Yum on the cake.
    – That is a fabulous “serious Brian” photoReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 4:24 pm

    Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. - so pretty! love this oneReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 4:27 pm

    Sneh | Cook Republic - Such a pretty looking cake. Great work on the published article and I love your argyle jumper!ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 4:29 pm

    Diane {Created by Diane} - looks and sounds DELICIOUS!ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 6:27 pm

    Ken⏐hungry rabbit - Congrats on a great article in Edible Boston. I also turn to citrus to lift my spirits in the gloomy months of winter and this cake is a fantastic fix.ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 6:51 pm

    MikeVFMK - Never thought about a citrus cake. It looks fab! And congrats on the Edible Boston article. They definitely came to the right man! Going to read it now. Happy holidays to you and Eric and your families!!ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 6:55 pm

    Lauren @ Healthy Food For Living - I also love citrus this time of year, and this grapefruit cake sounds delicious.

    Congrats on the article in Edible Boston!! Some of my favorite Boston restaurants are in the South End… I’m hopping over to read what you wrote right now =).ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 6:58 pm

    Lauren @ Healthy Food For Living - Just realized the article is about South Boston… not the South End – oops! I had it in my mind you guys lived in the South End. I will have to check out some of your recommendations! Sweet Tooth Bakery sounds like it is right up my alley.ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 7:44 pm

    naomi - Hey, congrats Brian! Love it that you are EVERYWHERE. Well deserved success!

    That grapefruit cake sound awesome good-bookmarking!ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 10:11 pm

    Rosie @ Sweetapolita - Yay for citrus! And cake! And your fabulous article! I’m really intrigued by this grapefruit cake–it looks (and sounds) incredible, and it has a really old-fashioned quality to it, which I love. Happy Holidays to you and yours, Brian. xoReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2011 - 10:30 pm

    El - Fantastic. Can’t wait to read it. Hope you have a great holiday!ReplyCancel

  • December 22, 2011 - 4:20 am

    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen - Perfect timing! I’ve been on a grapefruit kick lately.ReplyCancel

  • December 22, 2011 - 7:18 am

    Kaitlin - Yummy! I love grapefruit and grapefruit cake. Super tasty! I’m in college now and though I haven’t had a grapefruit since last year, I bought this year’s first batch just yesterday. When I lived in the dorms freshman year, they served them already halved in the cafeteria and I had at least two halves every day :)ReplyCancel

  • December 22, 2011 - 9:35 am

    April - Wow this looks good! I eat grapefruit all the time but have never though about making it into a dessert. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • December 22, 2011 - 9:58 am

    TidyMom - Congrats!!! and grapefruit cake? never thought of that! sounds incredible though!!ReplyCancel

  • December 23, 2011 - 3:44 am

    easyfoodsmith - Congrats on the feature!ReplyCancel

  • December 23, 2011 - 9:34 am

    MelodyJ - I didn’t know Grapefruit Cake existed until a few year ago. Someone on a message board asked what were the popular foods of your region. Someone commented that Grapefruit Cake was popular in their area. Ever since I have wanted to try it.ReplyCancel

    • December 23, 2011 - 9:35 am

      MelodyJ - Oh yeah, Congrats on the feature and making Food Buzz Top 9!ReplyCancel

  • December 23, 2011 - 11:43 am

    amanda - I love grapefruit and am looking forward to trying this! I don’t think of Southie as a foodie mecca (yet) but I always read Edible Boston and will definitely check out your piece. Maybe you’ll see me heading down there from Malden!ReplyCancel

  • December 23, 2011 - 5:17 pm

    Kim Bee - Congrats on your article being published. That’s incredible news. Also this recipe is remarkable. Love it to bits!ReplyCancel

  • December 24, 2011 - 12:49 am

    Dima's Kitchen - I have just stumbled upon your blog, have read through a few posts, and thoroughly enjoying them. I must say that I am very intrigued by the smoked Guda and pear tart, sounds fantastic, and would definitely give it a go. Your photos look great, and the grapefruit cake looks so mouthwatering. I too have a love for citrus fruits and agree they do liven up an otherwise dull season. Nothing like the smell the room after peeling some oranges! Divine!
    Fully enjoyed and will dropping by again for sure…

    PS congrats on the article :)ReplyCancel

  • December 24, 2011 - 4:54 pm

    Kasey - Citrus is my savior during the winter months, too. I’m excited to see blood oranges at my markets. Grapefruit cake sounds unique and totally delicious. Happy holidays!ReplyCancel

  • December 27, 2011 - 2:12 pm

    Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction - I love citrus, and grapefruit happens to be one of my favorites. Love the look of this cake!

    And, congrats on all of your articles… Definitely well deserved!ReplyCancel

  • January 2, 2012 - 7:03 am

    Back to Basics: How to Segment Citrus | Honest Cooking - […] If you are looking for a great way to use these grapefruit segments, check out this recipe for Grapefruit Cake. […]ReplyCancel

  • January 18, 2012 - 3:31 pm

    Susan - I’ve been hanging onto that recipe from an old Saveur wanting to make it for my blog one of these days … you beat me to it! :) Since my mouth is watering now, I’ll make it anyway! Nice job on the piece in Edible Boston, too. Cheers!ReplyCancel

  • January 18, 2012 - 3:34 pm

    Lynn @ Order in the Kitchen - I never was into grapefruits but the last couple of months I started eating them and I just LOVE them… they are so delicious! I need to get some of those grapefruit spoons though bc I look totally ridiculous trying to eat them with a fork or spoon haha (haven’t quite mastered the right way to do it). I’m definitely going to try this recipe though it looks fantastic! and congrats on the magazine article!!ReplyCancel

  • February 9, 2012 - 1:25 pm

    Kiri W. - Very interesting – I don’t like grapefruit fresh, but haven’t had a baked item with it yet. It looks like a beautiful dessert!ReplyCancel

  • February 15, 2012 - 10:07 am

    kita - Congratulations! What an awesome opportunity to write an article like that. :) You must be so excited.ReplyCancel

  • February 22, 2012 - 7:53 pm

    Ilan (IronWhisk Blog) - Mmm.. looks great!ReplyCancel

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