grapefruit pound cake


Why does lemon get to have all the fun? You see lemon everywhere in baking, but poor ruby red grapefruit tends to be forgotten. Thank goodness Deb Perelman of “smitten kitchen” remembered it. She saw the sweetness and tartness of grapefruit and created a lovely pound cake to highlight its best assets.

Confession: I once ate exactly half of this cake in one sitting. And the other half in the next sitting. No regrets.


  • Yields: 1 loaf


For the cake:

  • butter, for greasing the loaf pan
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour + more for greasing the loaf pan
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly grated grapefruit zest (from 1-2 large grapefruits)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup raw or turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil *Deb says the olive oil compliments the bitterness of the grapefruit well, but you could use canola if you prefer
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp. grapefruit juice, fresh squeezed
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk *You can use plain yogurt if you don’t have buttermilk

For the syrup:

  • 2 Tbsp. white sugar
  • 1/3 cup grapefruit juice, fresh squeezed

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 Tbsp. grapefruit juice, fresh squeezed
  • tiny pinch of table salt


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and butter & flour a 9×5 loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, rub the grapefruit zest and sugars with your fingertips. This will cause the zest to release its essential oils into the sugars.
  3. Whisk the oil into the sugars until smooth. Then whisk in the eggs, one at a time.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. In a large measuring cup or another small bowl, whisk together the 2 Tbsp. of grapefruit juice and the buttermilk/yogurt.
  6. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and 1/3 of the buttermilk mixture to the oil mixture and whisk until combined. Repeat this process until everything is mixed.
  7. Spread the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top out. Tap the pan a couple times on the counter to pop any air bubbles. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until a toothpick comes out clean. (Mine took 45 minutes).
  8. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. While it’s cooling, you can make the syrup. Combine the 2 Tbsp. of sugar and the 1/3 cup of grapefruit juice in a small saucepan. Bring it up to a boil while stirring and then take it off the heat.
  9. Poke holes using a toothpick or skewer throughout the cake. Using a spoon or brush, apply the syrup to the cake. Once the 10 minutes is up, take out the cake and allow to cool on a wire rack until completely cool.
  10. Once the cake is completely cool, you can make the glaze. Combine the sifted powdered sugar, grapefruit juice, and tiny pinch of salt in a small bowl, whisking until smooth. Pour or drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake and allow it to run down the sides.

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