Rich and refreshing grapefruit cake with grapefruit curd

All photos: Moriah VanVleet

It’s not unusual for my husband to come home with a full shopping bag from Moe’s Books, but when he arrived and the bag was lumpy and rounded recently, I had to give him a funny look.

“They’re grapefruits from Harvey!”

My strange face changed to a smile. It was a day of generosity, it seemed. Another friend had given us a basket of her chickens’ eggs, rich and vibrant with glowing orange yolks.

Little time passed before I found myself creating a new chiffon-style cake with fluffy egg whites whipped into the batter, and a luscious batch of grapefruit curd to serve alongside it.


While the moist cake is delightful with just a simple dusting of powdered sugar, the creamy curd amps up the citrus flavor as well as the decadence.

Buttery with a zesty bite, my new dessert proved rich and refreshing at once. With a nod to the growing trees and giving friends that abound, may you enjoy every bite.

Grapefruit Cake with Grapefruit Curd

Serves 8 to 10

Grapefruit Cake
2 large egg whites (save the yolks for the curd)
3/4 cup sugar
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fresh grapefruit juice, seeds removed
Finely grated zest of one grapefruit
Powdered sugar, for serving (optional)

Grapefruit Curd
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks (from above)
Finely grated zest of two grapefruits
Dash of salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened


To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Prepare an 8-inch cake pan by greasing the inside and lining the bottom with parchment paper.

Beat the egg whites using an electric mixer on high speed until just foamy. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar and keep beating until the whites are opaque with medium-to-stiff peaks.

In a separate large bowl, beat the butter, vanilla, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar on medium-high speed until creamy and even.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl with the butter mixture. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl often as you stir in the dry ingredients. Gradually pour in the grapefruit juice, mixing until even and well combined. Fold in the zest until evenly dispersed.

Gently scoop one third of the egg whites into the bowl with the cake batter. Gently fold the them into the batter until just combined. Add the remaining egg whites in two more batches, folding just until no traces of the whites remain. Do not overmix.


Immediately transfer the batter to the prepared pan and use a spatula to spread into an even layer. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the edges and top of the cake are becoming golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

Let the cake cool completely in the pan. Flip cake out on to a serving platter and remove the parchment. Keep the cooled cake covered at room temperature until you’re almost ready to serve. (It will stay good up to 24 hours.) If desired, sift powdered sugar over the cake before serving.

To make the curd: In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk together the sugar, grapefruit juice, eggs, egg yolks, grapefruit zest and salt. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water. (It should be near the water but not touching the surface.)

While whisking constantly, cook the custard until it is thick enough to hold a deep trail when whisk is pulled through it, about 15 minutes. Carefully remove the bowl from the heat. Keep whisking for a minute or two while bowl cools down.

Add in the butter in two batches, continuing to whisk each addition until it disappears and is fully incorporated. Push the warm curd through a fine mesh strainer into a clean bowl. (The whisk or a spatula will be useful here.) Be sure to gently scrape the backside of the strainer with a clean spatula. Custard tends to hide there.

Let the curd cool to room temperature, then cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before serving with the cake. (It will stay good for up to 3 days.)

Moriah VanVleet is the voice behind butter, sugar, flowers, where this recipe first appeared.