Good Eats and Sweet Treats from My Small Boston Kitchen

Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake

Last weekend was one of those times when nothing was going my way. I had a really fun couple of days planned and was super psyched come Friday evening, but by midday Sunday I found myself moping in bed with a great pout going. By no fault of mine, or anyone else’s really, all of my carefully laid plans dissolved, and I ended up spending hours curled up in bed with my kitties and a new book. In many instances that’d have been a great use of a day, but last weekend it just felt like a waste.

Come 4pm on Sunday, after hours of laying around feeling sorry for myself, I decided I’d had enough of wasting my day, so I put on some real clothes and schlepped myself to Whole Foods. In case you’ve never tried shopping at a Whole Foods in a metro area around 4pm on a Sunday, I’ll tell you what it’s like: not fun. Lines for days, grumpy people ambling all over, and getting in each other’s way as they pour over produce and compare ingredients to stock up for the workweek ahead. I am usually that person — reading the fine print on labels, seeking out just the right apple, or the most perfectly yellowed bananas, but last Sunday I wanted nothing to do with it. I just wanted to grab my grapefruits and a bottle of olive oil and get out of there. I was going to make a cake.

Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake - Sweetly Serendipity

My good friend has raved about this cake from Smitten Kitchen over and over, and when I was pouring over cookbooks lazily in bed Sunday afternoon, I came across said recipe and knew I had to make it. Even though the Whole Foods trip was not the most fun one ever (which is saying something for someone who normally LOVES grocery shopping), I’m glad I went. I’m glad I made this cake. For one – it’s delicious – bitter, sweet, salty, savory – unlike any other cake I’ve made before, but totally incredible and unique. But also, this cake was like an hour of (mostly) free therapy – it reminded me to ground myself, and to not sweat the small stuff so much. It reminded me of the things that I love, which are often so easy to forget. It reminded me how precious time is, and how important it is to fill it with good, happy things, and not bitterness and negativity.

Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake - Sweetly Serendipity

Last night I started watching the final episodes of the TV show Parenthood, and in this particular episode, one of the main characters is rushed to the hospital. After the major crisis has been averted,  the rest of the episode is spent making the point that life is short. The pursuit of dreams is important, the cherishing of moments imperative — through different story lines the point kept being driven home, and it really resonated with me. As I watched I thought back to this past Sunday again, and how aggravated I was with myself for wasting that time. Life is too short. It’s just not worth those lost moments.

Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake - Sweetly Serendipity

I’ve shared here before that I decided to start dating again, and it’s largely been a comedic effort. I’ve met plenty of people and had lots of interesting experiences, but until recently, no one I’d met had made me feel anything other than sure of what I DON’T want in a partner. But then one day I met someone interesting, and he gave me hope that good men are out there, and that more importantly, I might be lucky enough to find one someday. He made me feel something good again – hope – and it FREAKED ME OUT. Cue the endless hours of cuddle time in bed with a book and my kittens, hiding from everything uncertain. Life in the real world – trying to fall in love, weathering the disappointments, being vulnerable – it’s scary business! And sometimes holing up and hiding inside seems like a much better idea, because the thought of putting yourself out there at the risk of being hurt, again — sometimes it’s just too much.

Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake - Sweetly Serendipity

But then I think – what if tomorrow comes, and something bad happens? What if I miss an opportunity because I’m scared, or angry? Our supply of tomorrow’s is limited to begin with, so it’s not at all worth wasting moments unless we absolutely have to. That might seem like a pessimist’s view, but in all honestly – if you think of how precious life is, it’s hard to justify being mad. On the flip side, it’s also hard to put yourself out there, to stay positive and strong in moments that feel defeating, and to just trust that good things will come. It’s all really HARD, but we’ve already established that life is hard… and often that hard stuff is so very worth it.

Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake - Sweetly Serendipity

So next time one of those crummy weekends rolls around, or one of those more vulnerable moments appears, I will choose baking over bed, and I will remember what’s really important.

I hope you will, too. Warm cookies and tasty cakes have a way of making any day just a little bit brighter.

Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake

Ingredients

    Cake
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup spelt flour
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated grapefruit zest, from 2 large grapefruits
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup raw or turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
  • Syrup
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice
  • Glaze
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

    Make the cake
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the grapefruit zest into the sugars with a spatula until well incorporated. This will bruise the zest and help it release as much oil as possible. Whisk in the oil until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition until combined. Scrape down the bowl.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine both flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a second bowl. In a liquid measuring cup, combine 2 tablespoons of grapefruit juice and the buttermilk or yogurt.
  4. Add the flour and buttermilk/yogurt mixtures to the eggs and sugar, alternating between the two, beginning and ending with the flour.
  5. Spread the batter evenly in your prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a cooling rack while you make the syrup.
  6. Make the grapefruit syrup
  7. Combine 2 tablespoons of sugar with 1/3 cup grapefruit juice in a small saucepan, and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves.
  8. Once the cake has cooled 10 minutes in the pan, invert it onto your cooling rack, and set it over a tray. Poke holes in the cake with a skewer or toothpick, then spoon or brush the grapefruit syrup over the cake. Let the cake cool completely while it absorbs the syrup.
  9. Make the glaze
  10. Once the cake is almost entirely cooled, combine the confectioners' sugar, grapefruit juice, and pinch of salt in a bowl, whisking until smooth. Pour the glaze decoratively over the top of the cooled cake, and allow glaze to drizzle down the sides. Let set, slice up, and serve!
http://www.sweetlyserendipity.com/dessert/cakes-and-cupcakes/grapefruit-olive-oil-cake/



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