Saturday, February 2, 2013

grapefruit yogurt cake

Grapefruit must be one of my favorite things about winter.

And I'm not a winter person. But there's always something to appreciate every season. For me, winter = citrus. Perhaps there's a reason nature intended it to be this way - so that we get a healthy dose of vitamin C at the time of year when we're always cooped up indoors and susceptible to catching a cold or flu.

I just realized that there's been a grapefruit theme all over our home lately. I've been loving grapefruit hand soap, dish soap, dishwasher detergent (all from Method - and no, I'm not getting paid to write this), and most recently - a grapefruit scented candle.

Caldrea citron ginger (grapefruit, ginger and basil), purchased at clearance price. Target does it again...

But back to the real grapefruit.

There's something about the refreshing scent of the fruit as you slice it open...the beauty of the jewel-like pink segments with teardrop-shaped pulp that just burst with juice and flavor in your mouth.

Whether I eat it as a snack by itself, juice it for a "mocktail" (homemade grapefruit IZZE!), add segments to a shaved fennel salad - somehow it makes me feel all virtuous despite the chocolate/ice cream/Cape Cod salt + vinegar chips I had not long before.

The other way I enjoy it, is in cake.

I started stress-cooking last night; you'll see why here. Then I decided, after making 2 batches of soup -- split pea and pumpkin coconut curry (don't ask) -- that cake was in order. 

This cake is adapted from the Barefoot Contessa's (my imaginary BFF) lemon yogurt cake. It's one of the easiest cakes ever -  you don't even need an electric mixer. I've professed my love for olive oil-based cakes before, such as this tangerine olive oil pound cake. Citrus and olive oil together are just a match made in heaven. Those Mediterranean folks were definitely on to something.

Along with the olive oil, the yogurt adds moisture - as well as tang - to the cake. I actually had Greek yogurt on hand, but I only had 3/4 cup remaining, and the recipe calls for a full cup. But, since Greek yogurt is generally yogurt that is drained of whey, I decided to just add enough water to make it a full cup, and it worked out just fine. But whatever you do, please do not use nonfat yogurt. For that matter, let me go on a soapbox for a little bit: please don't use nonfat anything unless nature intended it to be nonfat. Consider this my public service announcement.

When zesting the grapefruit - or any citrus fruit for that matter, make sure you just use the outer layer, not all the way into the white bitter pith. I love the Microplane for this task - it makes really fine zest; it's so sharp that you only need a gentle hand, so there's less risk of going into the bitter pith.

Grapefruit Yogurt Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • zest of one grapefruit (a little over 2 teaspoons)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Grapefruit simple syrup
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (I got about 1/2 cup from my grapefruit)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a loaf pan (I used 8x5x3) and line the bottom with parchment paper. I use a long narrow strip of parchment so that the paper goes up the sides of the pan for easy removal later. No one likes cake stuck to the pan, right? (Then again, I have eaten cake straight out of the pan before...) For good measure, grease and flour the pan.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into one bowl. Whisk it together so that the baking powder and salt gets incorporated into the flour.

3. In another bowl, add 1 cup of the sugar and the zest. Mix them together with your fingers, rubbing the zest and the sugar together so that the oils from the zest perfume the sugar. The original recipe didn't call for this step, but I like doing it to make sure that a) the grapefruit flavor permeates throughout and b) there are no lumps of zest sticking together. I actually enjoy doing this - I tend to use a lot of citrus for cooking, and the zest is just great for flavoring a lot of things. I do the same with lemon zest and salt - rubbing them together to make a citrus salt, which you can then add to salads or other dishes that need an extra boost of flavor.

4. Crack the eggs into a large bowl and lightly beat them to break the yolk, then whisk in the yogurt and vanilla. Add the sugar and zest mixture and whisk everything together to make sure there are no lumps of sugar throughout. Every time I bake, I make sure that I mix the wet ingredients really well, so that once I add it to the dry ingredients, I don't overmix the batter.

5. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the olive oil into the batter until it's incorporated but not over-mixed. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester/toothpick/knife inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

6. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, on a cake rack.

7. Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup grapefruit juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.

8. Place the cake rack over a sheet pan. Loosen the cake from the pan, and lift it out of the pan (the excess length of parchment paper up the sides of the pan helps with this!) and place it on the cake rack. While the cake is still warm, pour the grapefruit simple syrup over the cake and allow it to soak in.
You can use as little or as much of the syrup as you want, but I probably only used half of it as I didn't want the cake to be too sweet. I figured I can use the syrup for a mocktail later, with sparkling water and perhaps some fresh thyme or rosemary, either of which pairs very well with grapefruit.

I actually debated whether to add herbs to the syrup for the cake -but I decided against it for now, so I can just have one main flavor in the cake for this first try. I might give it a try the next time. If you do, let me know how it turns out!

Barefoot Contessa's cake also calls for a glaze, which is 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (or grapefruit, for this cake) and a cup of confectioner's sugar, mixed together and poured over the cake. I'm not a huge fan of glaze, and didn't feel like I had to add even more sugar to the cake - but if you like glaze, go for it!

And on that note, I am off to have a slice of cake. Grapefruit and yogurt - that counts as breakfast, right?

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Cassaendra said...

This recipe sounds lovely, especially in winter. I am the same way - craving citrus. I'll definitely have to try this. Thanks for sharing. (The code authentication isn't a bother)

Mia (Savor Everyday) said...

Hi Cassaendra! I hope you try it! Let me know what citrus fruit you end up using and how it turns out :)

PS - glad the code doesn't bother you!

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