Nobody writes songs about New York in January. It’s cold, grey, sleety and unpleasant. And this January I’ve felt the blues at times, particularly while watching the sun set at 4:45pm and while waiting for the car to warm up (while breathing into my hands to keep my fingers from falling off).
But there is an upside to this time of year–it’s citrus season! Grapefruits, easy to peel navel oranges, big organic lemons from Californian backyards (shout out to my Aunt Jill’s lemon tree), blood oranges, clementines, pomelos, and the list goes on. There’s also something about the cold that makes me crave citrus so much that my usual dessert (a scoop of vanilla ice cream) has turned into a cold navel orange, straight from the fridge.
I think it’s something biological that tells my body, “no scurvy this winter!” I’ve even gotten Colin on the “orange for dessert train” and he hasn’t even been complaining…
And in honor of the beautiful citrus season we are having thus far, I want to share this seriously delicious Grapefruit Brown Butter Cake. It’s one of those recipes that came together beautifully on the first try which never happens (it’s mashup of a Smitten Kitchen’s grapefruit yogurt cake and Ina Garten’s lemon yogurt cake).
This recipes swaps brown butter for the oil and uses buttermilk instead of yogurt. It also doesn’t call for as much sugar, which makes it a great afternoon snack cake (right at around 4pm when I need an emotional and sugar pick me up). I’ve tested this one a few more times since and I can assure you, it’s awe-some.
I even took the cake to work and a colleague of mine said, “It’s so citrusy that when you’re done eating it your mind gets tricked into thinking you ate something healthy.” And that’s exactly what I was going for.
So I hope you enjoy this recipe too and happy January! Hopefully you’re somewhere nicer than New York while baking this cake. But if you’re not, this cake will definitely help brighten your week.
Grapefruit Brown Butter Cake
(makes one loaf cake or 8 inch bundt)
For the cake:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs (at room temperature)
Zest from 1 organic ruby red grapefruit (at least 1 tbsp)
1/2 cup brown butter, melted and cooled (1 stick)
For the glaze:
2-3 tbsp freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (from 1/2 grapefruit, you should have more than 2-3 tbsp. Drink the excess, it’s good for you!)
1 cup confectioners sugar
Segments from 1/2 grapefruit, cut out as if you were eating it for brunch.
Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour loaf/bundt pan and set aside. If using a bundt pan make sure to butter the nooks very well.
Melt one stick of unsalted butter and whisk until the milk solids are toasty brown and it smells nutty. Take off heat and pour into bowl (don’t leave it in the pan or it will burn). Let cool.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl add sugar and grapefruit zest. Rub zest/sugar with fingers to blend the aromatics of the zest into the sugar.
Add buttermilk and eggs to the sugar/zest. Whisk well.
Working in small batches, add flour a little bit at a time. Whisk consistently.
Lastly, fold in the brown butter with a spatula until just incorporated.
Bake for 45-50 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
Cut the zested grapefruit in half and juice one half (you will have more that 2 tbsp of juice). Add one cup of confectioners sugar to 2-3 tablespoons of juice.
Cut segments out of the second half and add to the glaze. Mix well and pour over the cake while slightly warm.