Grapefruit & rosemary olive oil cake

I work with a whole load of cake lovers. So far in 2013, not a week has gone by that hasn’t seen a collection of lawyers and journalists clustered around the goodies table, eagerly waiting for a slice whatever’s been bought from the bakery around the corner. We’re working our way through the whole cake menu, with a different option each week according to whose birthday it is, or, increasingly, what craving the purchaser had. We don’t need a birthday as an excuse for cake. A craving will do.


That said, I stumped the office a bit last week when I rocked up with this grapefruit and rosemary cake. My colleagues dived into the banana cake no questions asked, but steered clear of the grapefruit, wincing distrustfully as I told them that really, it does taste surprisingly nice, until one brave soul finally tried a slice. And liked it. After that, the pile soon went down.

It is an unusual flavour combination, there’s no getting around it. But it also tastes really good, even when you overbake it like I did (my bad). Grapefruit is a tricky ingredient – sure they’re good for you, but I’ve heard there’s a chemical in them that messes with estrogen levels, particularly in ladies on birth control pills*. I never expected a cake recipe to touch on contraception, but there we go. Let’s get onto the cake now, shall we?

*I’m no medical expert. Worth at least giving it a Google before you take my word as gospel.


Grapefruit & rosemary olive oil cake

Adapted from Desserts for Breakfast
Makes one 10 inch cake or two 7 inch cakes


1 medium grapefruit
400g sugar
375 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
4 eggs, at room temperature
6 tbsp olive oil

250g icing sugar


1) Trim the top and bottom of the grapefruit, till the flesh is just peeping through. In a small pan, cover the grapefruit with water and bring to a boil. Cook for about 1 minute and drain, discarding the water. Do this 3 times.
2) Combine the blanched grapefruit, 100g sugar, and 3 cups water in the same pan over medium heat. Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves and the grapefruit rind can be easily pricked by a fork. Remove the grapefruit from the cooking liquid, saving the liquid for later. Allow both cool.
3) Preheat the oven to 160C and grease/line your tin(s).
4) Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chopped rosemary in a bowl.
5) Cut the grapefruit in half and remove the flesh – you might find it easiest to scoop it out using a soup spoon, or to cut it away from the pith and rind using a sharp knife. Next, cut the rind from the pith, discarding the pith. Put the flesh and rind into a food processor along with the eggs, and pulse to combine.
6) Add the remaining sugar (300g) to the food processor, as well as the olive oil, and pulse to combine. Add the flour mixture in two batches, pulsing briefly until just (guess what?) combined.
7) Pour into your tin and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until golden brown and a knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If it browns too quickly, cover with foil for the remaining time.
8) Remove from oven, transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool.
9) While the cake cools, combine the icing sugar with half the cooking liquid saved from step 2. Discard the rest. I found that using a hand blender and adding the icing sugar a tablespoon at a time ensured a nice smooth icing.
10) When cool, transfer the cake to your serving plate and pour the icing over the top, allowing it to cascade down the sides.

6 thoughts on “Grapefruit & rosemary olive oil cake

  1. riversidebaking says:

    That looks gorgeous, I’ve been wanting to try an olive oil cake for ages but hadn’t thought of grape fruit. What kind of olive oil did you use? I also had no idea about grapefruit having an effect on hormones :S beautiful pics as always Hannah x

  2. Hannah Jade says:

    Thanks! I used a really cheap olive oil actually – original recipe called for extra virgin but cheap was fine!

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