This easy Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake is bright and fresh with fresh squeeze grapefruit juice and comes together in a snap with no mixer needed!
Sometimes a dessert can just give you a vibe—and I love the vibe of this grapefruit olive oil cake. It makes me think of being at a beach in Italy in Springtime, based on nothing really, other than the vibe it gives. It’s a similar vibe to these Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes but I’m really just a sucker for all things citrus.
Bringing olive oil into a cake not only is delicious, but also it adds an extra depth that can’t be beaten. Pairing that rich olive oil with a bright citrus like grapefruit and a savory herb like rosemary is a beautiful balance.
Olive Oil in Cakes
Using olive oil in cakes may seem like an odd choice at first if you’ve never tried it before, however these cakes are hardly new. They are a traditional staple in Italian, Spanish and Arabic cultures. Olive oil is, or was it seems, the cheaper choice over butter in cakes.
As a bonus, oil cakes create a moi—sorry soft—texture, a fine but light crumb, and a wonderful ability to stay this way days longer than a butter cake. Olive oil has the additional benefit of adding a richer, deeper flavor than using a vegetable oil.
I have used a lighter olive oil here because I wanted the grapefruit to still shine through, but if you want to go all in and use a darker extra-virgin olive oil that is completely up to you.
It is important to use a decent quality oil, no matter the variety. Top shelf isn’t necessary, but the cheapest option will not have the flavor depth. Decent is your sweet spot.
Tips for Success
The great thing about this cake is how easy it comes together. Two bowls, 1 whisk and a loaf pan is all you need.
- Make sure your ingredients are all room temperature
- Sifting your flour first will make it easier to incorporate into your wet ingredients without needing to over-mix the batter. It will keep your cake tender and ensure no dry patches remain.
- Massaging the sugar with the grapefruit zest and rosemary isn’t *technically* required, but it does strengthen the flavor of the ingredients.
- Feel free to adjust the ratio of powdered sugar to juice in your glaze for your preferences. More sugar will be a stiffer glaze, more juice will be thinner.
- A quality Loaf Pan will help bake evenly. If your pan is too thin, the exterior will become crusty before the interior is baked through
Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake
- 9" x 5" Loaf Pan*
Olive Oil Cake
- 297 g granulated sugar
- Zest of 1 grapefruit
- ½ to 1 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary to taste
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- ¾ cups olive oil
- ½ cups whole milk room temperature
- ½ cups grapefruit juice about 1 grapefruit
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 300 g all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 57 g confectioners' sugar
- 1 tablespoon grapefruit juice
Candied Grapefruit Slices (Optional)
- 4 1/4" thick grapefruit slices
- 198 g granulated sugar plus 50g for dusting
- 1 ½ cup water
- Olive Oil Cake:Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour 9"x5" loaf pan.
- Place sugar, zest, and rosemary in a large bowl. Using your hands, massage the zest and rosemary in the sugar to release the oils and aromatics.297 g granulated sugar, 1/2 to 1 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, Zest of 1 grapefruit
- Whisk in eggs and olive oil until combined. Add milk, grapefruit juice and vanilla and whisk thoroughly.3 large eggs, 3/4 cups olive oil, 1/2 cups whole milk, 1/2 cups grapefruit juice, 1 teaspoon vanilla
- In separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.300 g all-purpose flour, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt
- Slowly whisk dry ingredients into wet until just combined.
- Pour into prepared pan. Bake 55-60 minutes until toothpick comes out dry.
- Cool for 30 minutes in pan, then let cool completely on wire rack.
- Grapefruit Glaze:Whisk together confectioners' sugar and grapefruit juice. Spoon over cake after completely cool.57 g confectioners' sugar, 1 tablespoon grapefruit juice
- Candied Grapefruit Slices:Boil a small pot of water. Allow slices to boil for 30 seconds. Drain pot, refill and repeat.4 1/4" thick grapefruit slices
- Fill deep saucepan again with 198g (1 cup) Sugar and 1 1/2 cup water. Bring to a simmer and add slices in even layer once sugar is dissolved.198 g granulated sugar, 1 1/2 cup water
- Allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
- Remove from heat and place slices on wire rack to dry.
- After about 1 hour, dust slices with remaining sugar.
- Allow to dry completely, about 6 hours.
- Slices can be made of time and stored in fridge.
- Rosemary can be removed completely if desired
- Candied Grapefruit can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container
- Store cake at room temperature in airtight container
Looking for other Italian classics?
Try this Tiramisu Layer Cake out!