grapefruit, rose & cardamom loaf cakes

grapefruit rose cardamom loaf cakes

I don’t know whether there is a grapefruit rose soap, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the flavour combination subconsciously entered my head via a soap. I mean, it sounds pretty soapy – in a good way. (I always find myself wishing that displays of fancy handcrafted soaps were edible. Oatmeal, honey and goat’s milk soap? I’d eat that for breakfast any day. Especially if it wasn’t actually soap.)

These soap bars cakes are also actually grapefruit cakes. I’ve tried making “grapefruit” cakes a couple times before following a similar approach as I would with a lemon cake – throw in some zest – and always ended up with a very plain cake. Because I am very susceptible to the power of suggestion and have an active imagination, I could taste grapefruit if I waved my hands and thought hard enough about it… but that doesn’t help others taste the flavour.

grapefruit rose cardamom loaf cakes
grapefruit rose cardamom loaf cakes
grapefruit rose cardamom loaf cakes
grapefruit rose cardamom loaf cakes

Given my history of poorly grapefruit-tasting grapefruit cakes, when it came to these cakes, I was determined to take all the measures I could think of:

  • use plenty of zest in the cake – 2-3 grapefruits worth (I gradually build up a stock of frozen grapefruit zest over a few weeks by zesting each fruit I eat)
  • stir some chopped candied grapefruit peels into the batter
  • soak the just-baked cake in grapefruit juice
  • glaze the cake with a grapefruit juice-based glaze

If all this didn’t work, I would be confused and a bit lost as to how to proceed next. Thank goodness it did work! One doesn’t need any imagination to taste the grapefruit, bolstered by floral rosewater and slight citrusy cardamom.

grapefruit rose cardamom loaf cakes
grapefruit rose cardamom loaf cakes
grapefruit rose cardamom loaf cakes
grapefruit rose cardamom loaf cakes
grapefruit rose cardamom loaf cakes

The cakes are floral, sweet, dense and as emphasized thoroughly above, very grapefruit. Soaking the crown of each cake with grapefruit juice transforms the first bite of each piece into tart, saturated, buttery crumbs. As with my favourite week-end citron, the cakes are glossed all over with a crackly doughnut-like sugar glaze. It does make them a bit sweeter than usual though – in small cake form, the ratio of area of glaze to volume of cake increases, but it is compensated for through the bitterness of the grapefruit.

have gifted people half-loaf cakes before but it always seems a bit strange. Three mini cakes is the perfect set up to save one and give two away.

grapefruit rose cardamom loaf cakes

mini grapefruit, rose and cardamom loaf cakes

  • Servings: 3 mini loaves
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Makes 3 small loaves, in tins about 5×3″. Alternatively, see note at end to make 1 large loaf cake.

  • 238 g a.p. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp b.p.
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 125 g sugar
  • finely grated zest of 2 grapefruits
  • 4 room temperature eggs
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp rosewater (or more or less, depending on the strength of yours)
  • 80 mL heavy cream
  • 1 stick butter, melted and cooled
  • 50g drained candied grapefruit peel (1/3 cup), chopped into 1-cm chunks (recipe below)

first glaze

  • 5 tbsp strained grapefruit juice

final glaze

  • 150g icing sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp strained grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 tsp rosewater (more or less, depending on the strength of yours)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line three mini loaf pans (5×3″ approximately) with a parchment paper sling and butter the exposed sides of the pans.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom.

In another bowl, rub the grapefruit zest into the sugar until very aromatic. Add the eggs and whisk thoroughly to combine, then whisk in the rosewater, vanilla extract and the heavy cream. Mix in the flour mixture with a spatula, and finally add the butter in 2-3 additions, folding in the butter completely each time. Lastly, mix in the chopped candied grapefruit peel until just combined. Distribute the batter, which is beautifully ribbony, into the prepared pans.

Bake for 25 minutes or until an inserted skewer is removed clean. Remove from the oven, prick lightly all over with a wooden skewer, and brush with the “first glaze” of grapefruit juice. Let cool around 10-15 minutes before removing from the pan and placing on a wire rack to cool completely.

For the second glaze, I recommend doing this the day you’re planning to serve the cake. Usually I bake the cake the night before, and then finish glazing next morning so it is freshly set before bringing it as a gift/to the workplace. Whisk together the icing sugar with the grapefruit juice and rosewater, adding grapefruit juice as needed to get a drizzly icing. Keeping the cakes on the pieces of parchment paper, place the cooled cakes on a wire rack over a pan. Pour the glaze over the cake, using a small offset spatula to spread the glaze evenly over the sides of the cake until it is completely coated. By keeping the cakes on the parchment paper, it will catch a bit of the glaze along the sides so you can scoop it up with the offset spatula and spread it over the sides. Once fully glaze, lift the cakes off the parchment paper and place directly on the rack to allow the glaze to finish setting.

Note: for 1 large loaf cake instead – Use the batter to make one standard loaf cake. You may wish to increase the sugar in the cake to 150g as there will not be as much glaze. Bake the cake for longer, around 45-55 minutes. Prepare only a 2/3 glaze recipe.

candied grapefruit peel

peel of 1 grapefruit


Cut the peel from the fruit and slice into strips.

Place the peels in a small saucepan, add water to cover and bring to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes, then drain and rinse and return to the pot. Repeat boiling, draining and rinsing twice more.

Return the peels to the pot and add around 1/2 cup of water (or however much is needed to just cover them) and scant 1/2 cup of sugar. Boil the mixture for about 10 minutes or so, or until the liquid appears syrupy. By now the peels should be tender and the pith should have a translucent character.

Store in their syrup in the fridge. Drain before using, and pat off any excess syrup with a bit of paper towel.

4 thoughts on “grapefruit, rose & cardamom loaf cakes

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