Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Grapefruit cakes

I've mentioned the grapefruit situation with the fruit box at work. So. Much. Grapefruit.

Not very pink, pink grapefruit
There were a couple of office birthdays coming up, so I decided to make a cake utilising the grapefruit glut. In my last job, birthday cakes were very political. They were discussed in team meetings and policies were argued, formulated, and then ignored in favour of the unhappy status quo.

My new workplace is not like that at all. They are a thoroughly charming group of young people. I'm the oldest in the office by a reasonable margin, which is a bit of an odd experience for me, but I am so delighted to be working with this extraordinary bunch I just can't tell you. My mother might make a plea for the Shore boys of my generation, but really, at 23 most of them were still struggling to walk upright. These kids are an entirely different kettle of fish - clever, articulate, polite, radiant with youth. Totally awe-inspiring, magnificent creatures. A lot of them are volunteering for a brief period, and I haven't quite figured out how I am going to deal with the regular little bereavement of these beautiful people moving on to other things. 

So in my continued karmic journey towards reincarnation as an Italian mother (or journey away from foie gras farmer...), I am enjoying feeding them. And the thing about clever, articulate, polite people is that they are very sweet and gracious guineapigs for my experiments.

I think we can agree that my cake decorating needs some development
Right, this grapefruit cake then. My first attempt used this recipe, using evaporated milk instead of fresh (I was deeply sceptical about fresh milk and grapefruit juice not curdling. It might have worked but I didn't want to find out) and making it in one 8" square cake tin. Needed cooking for a bit longer than the recipe, obviously, but sticking a toothpick in it worked as an indicator.

I split the cooled cake in half (really must get a serrated knife, if snazzy cakes are going to become a more important part of my repertoire). I brushed the cut edges with a simple grapefruit syrup (i.e 1:1 grapefruit juice and sugar), and sandwiched it with fresh grapefruit curd mixed 50/50 with white chocolate buttercream. For some reason, I had been absolutely convinced that the white chocolate buttercream recipe contained cream cheese.  It doesn't, but I'd already bought it, so in it went. I used strained grapefruit juice and some zest instead of the cream and vanilla to carry the flavour through a bit more and moderate the sweetness of the frosting.

Really good crumb
I iced it with more of the buttercream, without the curd added, and got a bit fancy with the piping bag and some pink cachous. It was delicious - and very popular in the office - but the grapefruit flavour was very subtle. Almost undetectable, in fact.

There were more grapefruit in the following week's box, so I made another cake. This time, I used the grated zest of 2 grapefruit in the cake itself. I reduced the grapefruit syrup down a bit further to concentrate the flavour and melted a couple of my remaining pâtes de fruits into it before brushing it onto the cut surfaces of the cake (which was a 9" round). I filled it with grapefruit curd mixed with cream cheese, then iced it with the grapefruit-flavoured white chocolate buttercream (without cream cheese in it). I was playing with food colouring, aiming for a sort of ombre effect, but I didn't quite get it. Much better flavour though.

I've cancelled the grapefruit in the fruit box now. They make a pretty good cake, but I'd really rather use lemons. And if there are always grapefruit cakes, where does that leave chocolate?

Some of my colleagues have said they read my blog. I am seeing how closely they read it.


Suelle said...

I love the multi-coloured frosting on the second cake!

It's a lovely use of excess grapefruit, if you can intensify the flavour enough, but it's probably better to just cancel them, as you have done!

The Cat's Mother said...

I too am impressed by the competence (and confidence) of the modern 20 year old.

Not sure why you pick on the Shore boys?

leaf (the indolent cook) said...

Having made grapefruit cake myself, I can tell at a glance that the original recipe was too lacking in grapefruit. More is good! And well done for making two! :D

Rachel said...

I love your cake decorating skills. Those swirly frosting flowers make me want to cut off a big slice and dive in!

Alicia Foodycat said...

Suelle - it is strange, I expected much more of the flavour!

Mother - because they were the pick of my friends!

Leaf - I might need your recipe.

Rachel - thank you! Very kind.

kat said...

I think your cake decorating skills are great!

Rebecca said...

Hello! I have just discovered your blog (via Hungry and Frozen) and its fab - I love it. You sound brilliant :-) Now I am not sure if its because its Friday night here and my brain is fried, but I cant find the button on your blog to follow you - help! Becks

Alicia Foodycat said...

Kat - aww thanks!

Becks - there is a follow button on the top bar, plus twitter & facebook and RSS feed buttons/links in the right hand column! I am a bit brilliant, thanks for noticing! ;)

Couscous & Consciousness said...

I love pink grapefruit - they always seem like a bit of a luxury to me - never would have thought of using them in cake though. Definitely something to try. And I'm totally impressed by your cake decorating skills :-)

Angie's Recipes said...

That multi-layered frosting looks amazing!

Heather S-G said...

Oh, I like the effect of the food coloring in the frosting on the second cake. But I do like the swirls 'n pearls on the first. And I think a grapefruit cake every once and again would be nice. Though, I am partial to lemon. Sounds like a nice new workplace...hate dealing with the nit-picky politics in some places!

Caroline said...

Love the frosting on both those cakes, but that second one looks particularly spectacular - how on earth did you achieve that effect? Like the idea of using grapefruit syrup for a more concentrated flavour.

Dharm said...

The cakes look great! Never would have thought of a grapefruit cake... now that is interesting!

Unknown said...

Love all your experimenting to get this cake just right - both of them look delicious to me and very moist!

Alicia Foodycat said...

Couscous - I like pink grapefruit, they are just not something I get around to eating.

Angie - thanks!

Heather - it really is nice. Such a difference!

Caroline - just dropped a couple of random drips of colouring paste into the piping bag.

Dharm - thanks!

Cafe Sucre - the cakes themselves were a wonderful texture.

grace said...

what a lovely use for grapefruits! i've never had them in ANY baked goods, but a ruffly and heavily-frosted cake sounds grand. :)


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