Grapefruit yogurt cake: a light and tender, subtly sweet, bright and flavorful bundt cake made with Greek yogurt, olive oil, grapefruit juice, and grapefruit zest. Don’t skip the glaze on this one – it’s where all the vibrant citrus flavor comes from.
Why you’ll love this recipe
I am so excited to share this grapefruit cake with you today. It’s one of my favorite things to come out of my kitchen in quite a while – and I actually don’t say that all that often. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t post things I think are mediocre on here (and just to be clear, there are plenty of experiments that turn out mediocre in my kitchen, lest you think I’m some sort of superhero).
But some recipes shine above the others. Some sort of flavor combination, or technique, or texture breakthrough may set them apart. This has all of those things!! And I’m not exaggerating when I say Brian already requested it for his birthday this year, after we already consumed two whole cakes in two weeks.
- (a) you DON’T need a mixer to make this – just a bowl and whisk or fork will do;
- (b) the yogurt, olive oil, and citrus combine to make a light and airy cake with the most tender crumb, so you can feel good about having more than one slice;
- (c) this cake is a surefire way to brighten up a winter brunch or dinner, when we all need as much help as we can get.
The primary ingredients in this grapefruit yogurt cake are simple:
- Grapefruit juice and zest (OR another citrus fruit!)
- I know grapefruit is a polarizing fruit, so I guess I won’t be offended if you say you don’t want to try it merely because you find grapefruit offensive. The great thing is, you can use ANY citrus fruit in its place in equal measure of juice/zest, and it will turn out just as well. I’ve made this cake with lemon, and I bet it would be delicious with orange – maybe even lime, though if I’m going to put limes in a dessert you better believe it’ll be pie.
- The zest is used in the cake and juice is boiled with a bit of sugar to create a homemade glaze that is poured over and soaked into the hot cake for ultimate bright flavor.
- Greek yogurt
- This produces a light and airy crumb and replaces some of the oil most recipes contain. Use PLAIN yogurt, not flavored. I recommend using full fat but reduced fat will work too. You can substitute regular plain yogurt in for the Greek yogurt if desired.
- Olive oil
- Makes for a tight crumb and great texture in combination with the yogurt. If you don’t like the flavor of olive oil, use another neutral oil like sunflower or grapeseed oil.
These ingredients sound humble, but this cake is truly more than the sum of its parts. I’ll show you why.
There are three elements to this cake, every one of them bursting with bright citrus flavor:
- the batter (simply whisked together with grapefruit zest + juice),
- the glaze (juice and 1 tbsp sugar boiled together and poured over the hot baked cake), and
- the icing (glaze + confectioner’s sugar poured over the cooled cake).
I know you’re looking at me and saying that’s not necessary, but it’s really not a tremendous amount of sugar in the aggregate — and the three components together make an incredible cake with much more flavor than you’d get if you just baked the juice and zest into the cake batter with nothing else. I encourage you to try it out.
Tips for the best grapefruit yogurt cake
Let’s talk about a few technique items here, because it’s integral to the success of this cake:
- Rub the zest and sugar together before adding to the rest of the ingredients.
- You can just do this in a bowl with your fingers. This releases the oils in the zest and makes the sugar fragrant and much more citrusy – which leads to a more flavorful cake. Just rub it through your fingers until you smell that citrus scent, and you’re done (should take 30 seconds or less). 100% worth it.
- Grease your cake pan extremely well
- especially if you have an intricately designed bundt cake like the heritage bundt pan I used in these pictures. Pretty, yes, but not if you have to spend half an hour trying to dislodge an unwilling cake in pieces from the pan.
- I use (a lot of) butter, but some people swear by Baker’s Joy spray, and others have said dusting the pan with granulated sugar after the butter or spray helps too. Whatever you do, make sure you really grease that pan.
- Poke holes and glaze the cake immediately after it comes out of the oven, while it’s still hot.
- I use a toothpick to poke holes all over the top of the cake (which will be the bottom when you turn it out), then SLOWLY pour the glaze over it so it sinks into the cake and keeps it perfectly moist (ugh, there is no other word). Seriously, the glaze keeps this cake for 4-5 days with no loss in moisture.
- Don’t forget to save 2 tbsp of the glaze to make the icing (optional, but delicious!)
- Turn it out after 10-15 minutes cooling time.
- Otherwise the sticky glaze will adhere it to the pan as it cools. I like to run a knife or spatula along the edge of the cake and the inner ring before flipping it onto a wire rack.
- If the cake doesn’t release immediately, bang on the top of the pan a few times with your fist, and that sometimes releases it.
- If that doesn’t work, just leave it sitting upside down for a while, and it should release on its own.
- If THAT doesn’t work, try running the spatula around the edges and down to the bottom more assertively, and try again.
- If all else fails – frosting fixes a lot of things.
So, to sum up, there are three elements to this cake: the batter, the glaze, and the icing. Four, really, if you count technique with the bundt pan.
My bundt pan is a 10 cup pan – any 10-15 cup bundt will do, just check the cake periodically after 35 minutes in the oven to see if it’s done. It shouldn’t take as long as most bundt cakes (usually they take 50-60 minutes) because there isn’t quite as much volume of batter.
After all that, you may be thinking it’s no longer worth all the time and effort to make this grapefruit yogurt bundt cake, but let me assure you that it is.
Did I mention Brian and I ate two cakes in two weeks? Ok, I’ll leave it at that.
More Citrus Recipes
- Single Layer Lemon Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
- Lemon Meringue Pie with Graham Cracker Crust
- Blood Orange Pound Cake
- Blood Orange Upside Down Cake
- Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Blackberry Sauce
Grapefruit Yogurt Cake
- 1 10-15 cup bundt pan
- Glass measuring cup
- Food scale (for most accurate results, always weigh your ingredients!)
For the cake batter:
- 2 and 1/2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon grapefruit zest (from about one large grapefruit)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup (227g) plain Greek yogurt (or regular, low fat or full fat, it's all fine)
- 1/2 cup (118ml) olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (118ml) fresh grapefruit juice (about 3/4 of one large grapefruit)
For the glaze:
- 1/3 cup (78ml) fresh grapefruit juice (just over 1/4 of one large grapefruit; it’s ok if you skimp a little)
- 1 tablespoon (12g) granulated sugar
For the icing:
- 2 tablespoons glaze (see below)
- 1 cup (113g) powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
- Pinch of salt
For the cake batter:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10-15 cup bundt pan EXTREMELY well. I use butter; you can also use cooking spray, and some people say sprinkling granulated sugar in afterwards also helps, but I haven't tried that. Set prepared pan aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
- In a large bowl, rub the sugar and grapefruit zest together with your fingers until the mixture is fragrant; this releases the oils of the zest and makes your cake extra flavorful.
- Add the eggs, yogurt, olive oil, vanilla, and grapefruit juice to the sugar, and whisk it all together until well combined.
- Dump the flour mixture into the wet mixture, and stir it all together until smooth and combined — but do not over-mix. We want a tender crumb, and over-mixing will make it tough! It’s ok if there are still a few small lumps.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared bundt pan, smoothing out the top and rapping the pan on the counter a couple times to get rid of air bubbles.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, until cake springs back when tapped and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean or with a couple crumbs attached.
Meanwhile, make the glaze and icing:
- Glaze: Place 1/3 cup fresh grapefruit juice and 1 tbsp granulated sugar in a microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl. Microwave on high until bubbling and sugar has melted, about 1 minute. Whisk together and set aside to let cool; reserve 2 tbsp of the glaze for the icing.
- Icing: whisk together 2 tbsp of the prepared glaze, the powdered sugar, and salt in a small bowl until smooth and pourable. Set aside.
Assemble the cake:
- When the cake comes out of the oven, immediately poke holes all over the surface of the cake with a toothpick or fork. Slowly pour glaze over the hot cake to soak in. Don’t pour too quickly or it will just run and pool down the sides, and that would be sad.
- Let the glaze soak into the cake for 10-15 minutes, then run a spatula along the edges of the cake and the inner tube of the bundt pan to separate, and invert the cake onto a wire rack. If the cake doesn’t immediately release, bang on the top of the bundt pan with your fist several times. If that doesn’t work, just let it sit upside down on the rack and it should eventually fall out.
- Once the cake is released and fully cooled, pour the icing over top. Serve!