February 19, 2010

Pink and sunny

Looking for something to turn into an "everyday" sort of cake, something to bring a little sunshine to your kitchen in these late winter months, between the cloudy days and fleeting rain?  Then a well crafted yogurt cake is just the thing for a mild February afternoon, spiked with a little pink grapefruit.  Citrus fruits are everywhere these days.  'Tis the season to make good use of them, from freshly squeezed orange juice in the mornings to freshly baked cakes utilizing a good measure of zest.

Ever since the idea for this recipe came to mind, other ideas keep popping up for switching the typical lemon zest in baked goods with pink grapefruit.  Now, I have no complaints with lemon.  If you've read any of my previous posts, you've seen how much I favor the fruit in baking.  It's just that as a baker, I'm always tempted and inspired by different flavors and the changing seasons to try something new and experiment a little, even if by only modifying one ingredient.  Sometimes the creativity pays off, sometimes it doesn't.  It did with this cake.

With grapefruit zest and juice in the batter as well as juice in the glaze, there's enough flavor to enhance the basic recipe and turn it into something extra special for your average weekday.  Citrus has a way of brightening things up a bit, you know.  One slice will lift your spirits.  Unless you have wheat or dairy issues.  Then I can't help you, because the cake relies heavily on both flour and yogurt, and I'm not good at making use of wheat and dairy substitutes.  But that's all beside the point.

The cake has a soft, moist crumb due to the yogurt and is just sweet enough to satisfy.  Now, if you're expecting an intense mouthful of grapefruit, you won't find it here.  There's definitely flavor, but it's light.  Don't try using yellow grapefruit.  They're much too bitter.  The pink variety is much more alluring, any way, and ruby reds are the least sour.  Make sure you use the glaze, which is more like a syrup -- it adds a bit of juiciness to the edges and a kick since it isn't heavily sweetened.  I enjoy citrus because of the tang that it adds as well as the taste.  I'll be tempted to bake it again soon, as long as the grapefruit holds out.

This recipe is based on a cake of French origin, traditionally made with lemon, but other citrus options would work just as well besides the pink grapefruit, so you might try some variations, like a lime yogurt cake, or Meyer lemon, or blood orange.

Grapefruit Yogurt Cake
Inspired by Orangette and Bon App├ętit, February 2005

For cake:
½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 Tbsp fresh pink grapefruit juice
1 Tbsp finely grated pink grapefruit peel
½ cup safflower oil
For glaze:
¼ cup fresh pink grapefruit juice, strained
2 Tbsp powdered sugar

To make cake: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter and flour an 8 or 9-inch round cakepan. Cut a round of parchment paper to fit in bottom of pan, and butter and flour it as well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar, eggs, grapefruit juice and peel, stirring until well blended. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just to combine. Fold in the oil. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or when a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, cake feels springy to the touch, and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then invert onto rack, peel off parchment, and cool completely.

To make glaze: Meanwhile, combine the grapefruit juice and powdered sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring until sugar dissolves. Let cool. When the cake is ready, brush glaze over the top and sides with a pastry brush, letting the it soak in between coats, using up every last bit.

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