Next to yogurt cakes, I’m a big fan of any cakes that use olive oil and show it with pride right in the recipe name. Despite the kind of citrus used in this recipe, the cake actually has more of a lemony flavour than grapefruit, as my brother described it; he was my first taster and loves this cake.
The original recipe, which I found on Smitten Kitchen, uses the grapefruit segments in the cake. I used a small amount of the grapefruit segments, cut up, into some of the batter and baked a test batch in a little cupcake liner. While I loved the extra fruit in the cake it left a bitter aftertaste that I wasn’t fond of, which I did not get when I ate the grapefruit raw. I’ve read about citrus becoming bitter after baking, even with copious amounts of sugar, but had never experienced it in my own baking until then. Oh well, it did look pretty.
One particular aspect about olive oil cakes that does inevitably rear its head at some point is the quality of the olive oil used if it is supposed to be prominent in the cake or doesn’t really contribute flavour or anything else except allure. Good olive oil does not have to be expensive; the extra virgin olive oil I used in this cake is the same olive oil I use for cooking and, depending on the brand bought and where, it ranges from five to seven bucks (Canadian). It has a strong, prominent flavour and a lovely aroma but it isn’t fancy. It has good character, as olive oil tasters would say.
That being said, do use good olive oil for this cake because I think it contributes to the cake’s flavour and it blends beautifully with the citrus.
This cake is also, accidentally, gum-free (by which I mean xanthum or guar). I forgot completely about it, only realizing after the cake had already been in the oven for a good while. As you can see, the cake worked out and I was very thankful for that.
Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake
Adapted from A Good Appetite by Melissa Clark via Smitten Kitchen
If you choose to bake this cake or the orange variation (below, following instructions) in a loaf pan instead of a square cake pan, you may want to bake it for an extra 10 minutes.
3.5 ounces honey (just shy of 1/2 cup)
About 1/2 cup So Delicious Original Coconut Milk Beverage (or other non-dairy milk of your choice)
3 medium or large eggs
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
56 grams (about 1/2 cup) millet flour
56 grams (about 1/2 cup) brown rice flour
27 grams (about 1/4 cup) coconut flour, sifted
27 grams (about 1/4 cup) cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Zest the grapefruits (I used a microplane) and stir the zest into the honey, letting steep to infuse the honey. [In retrospect, I think this kind of muted the citrus flavour. If you want it to come through more, add the zest to the batter last.]
Juice a quarter of one of the zested grapefruits to yield 1/4 cup of juice. Mix the juice with the coconut milk (it may separate and look a bit flakey; that’s fine) and add to the grapefruit zest-infused honey, mixing with a fork. Mix in eggs and olive oil.
Blend the flours, baking powder and soda and salt together in a separate bowl.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet, gradually stirring in – still with the fork – until there aren’t any lumps left and the batter has thickened. It will be velvety smooth.
Pour batter into a 9-inch square pan lined with parchment paper, spreading evenly, and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown, rotating the pan a full degree at 20 minutes to ensure even baking. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature on a wire rack.
Serve plain or with leftover grapefruit segments if desired, or make a compote with the grapefruit. Enjoy!
Working with other citrus fruit – I made an orange version of this cake, using three oranges and replaced the amount of millet flour with an equal amount of brown rice flour since I was out of millet flour. I zested the oranges and added it to the batter. I also separated the eggs and whipped the whites separately, folding them into the batter after adding the orange zest and gently folded in the orange segments, cut in 1/4-inch pieces, last. The crumb is slightly denser and fluffier, without any bitter aftertaste from the orange pieces.