Winter would just feel too hard without one things: citrus. Well, winter would also feel hard without Mardi Gras but that’s just us, down here, living our truths.
There’s an order to things in the world. As the holidays come to a close, as we pack up our ornaments and lights and send the Christmas tree off to be recycled, as a chill and maybe a few anxieties settle into the new year – just when we need a bright light and a kick in the pants we are blessed with winter citrus. Queen among these blessed fruits – the gorgeously pink grapefruit.
Dreamy any which way. Particularly lovely when broiled with brown sugar. Considered a diet tonic when enjoyed just a juice. What can’t a grapefruit bring us? This latest rendition : a loaf of a cake. Simple and sweet and poppy seeded.
Every cake that comes out of a loaf pan I consider an everyday cake – the kind of cake you can eat at any time of day, everysingleday. Actually, I feel that way about every cake, no matter the shape but it’s an especially slippery slope when cakes are loafed. It’s science.
We’ll start by coaxing as much sweet, bright, and bitter grapefruit flavor out of the fruit. It starts with zest and granulated sugar. The oils in the zest will add so much grapefruit essence to this cake.
Run the zest into the sugar. We’ll know it’s worked when the entire bowl is fragrant and the sugar begins to clump together thanks to the oils.
Whip in the eggs.
This is when it gets velvety.
You can whip by hand, with a whisk and a little elbow grease OR you can use a set of electric hand beaters. Whatever feels easy for you.
Add melted butter to the sugar and egg mixture.
Beat to emulsify and add a splash of vanilla extract.
In a little bb bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
We’ll mix half of the dry ingredients into the creamy butter, sugar and egg mixture.
Whip until juuuust incorporated.
Time for yogurt. Thick whole milk Greek yogurt. The good stuff.
Add a few tablespoons of fresh squeezed grapefruit juice to the mixture to kick up the flavor.
Whip until smooth. You’ll know it’s right because the batter will become increasingly irresistible.
The last of the dry ingredients along with a tablespoon of poppy seeds.
I think this loaf bakes up best in a pan slightly shorter and more narrow than a 9×5-inch pan. This pan is 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch pan. I filled the cake until the batter to 2/3 of the way full.
I know a 9×5-inch pan is more standard and makes for a very lovely loaf so please feel free to bake your heart out in that pan!
Bake to golden and risen, until the kitchen smells like an actual dream come true – usually about an hour in the oven.
Cool to room temperature and glaze with a thick grapefruit yogurt frosting.
Sprinkle happily with more poppy seeds just after glazing so they stick.
The cake is tender and poppy seed spotted. The simplicity is what makes it so satisfying. Sweet and grapefruit. Sliced thick and appropriate with both morning coffee and afternoon tea. It’s the sort of cake you wish were always on the counter and ready this time of year – as though grapefruits could just flip themselves into this cake with the blink of an eye.
- For the Cake:
- 1 tablespoon finely grated grapefruit zest
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
- 5 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds, plus more for sprinkling
- For the Glaze:
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice
- 1 tablespoon plain whole milk Greek yogurt
- pinch of salt
- Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350°F.
- Grease an 8½x4½-inch loaf pan, preferably metal, with butter or non-stick baking spray. Line with parchment paper, leaving overhang on the long sides, and lightly coat the paper with nonstick spray as well. Set the pan aside.
- Place sugar in a medium bowl. Using your fingers, work grapefruit zest into granulated sugar until sugar starts to clump and mixture is very fragrant.
- Beat in the eggs, melted butter, and vanilla on medium speed until light and thick, about 4 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Reduce mixer speed to low and mix in half of dry ingredients, until just combined. Beat in the yogurt and grapefruit juice until combined. Mix in remaining dry ingredients followed by and 1 tablespoon poppy seeds. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
- Bake cake until top is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack.
- Whisk powdered sugar, remaining 1 tablespoon grapefruit juice and 1 tablespoon yogurt, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Drizzle over cake. Sprinkle with poppy seeds and let sit until glaze is set, about 30 minutes.
- Enjoy at room temperature with hot coffee. To store the cake, keep it well wrapped at room temperature for up to 4 days.