Food & Wine (November 2015)
Imagine the moistest, cakiest, most indulgent donut you've ever had.
Now imagine the flavors of a lemon-poppyseed muffin.
Now, in your mind, marry those bright, tart, sweet flavors to that cakey donut texture.
Now imagine it twice as tasty as whatever you're already picturing.
Ladies and gentlemen: Grapefruit Cornmeal Cake.
We test-drove four different Thanksgiving desserts this year, and our favorite was a tossup between this and the Cherry Spice Cake Trifle we wrote about a few days ago.
This cake is crazy good! The flavors are simple and straightforward, with the zesty grapefruit flavor (Citrus Trend Alert!!) adding a wonderful brightness to the cake.
It's super easy to make, and you can prepare the cake 3 days in advance. (The recipe is slightly ambiguous on this: We made the cake a couple days early; then, the morning of the day we served it, we reheated it slightly in the oven just to warm it a bit before pouring the warm glaze over. Our approach worked great.)
This is a fabulous addition to a Thanksgiving dessert table, and its unique flavors will be a welcome standout in a sea of pumpkin, apple and pecan. But this is also a cake that would work for tons of other occasions: It would be just as lovely for a tea or a brunch.
Or, you know, a Tuesday night.
Total time: 2 hours 30 minutes
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for greasing
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup medium-grind cornmeal
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon finely grated grapefruit zest plus 1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1/4 cup poppy seeds
- 1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 9-inch cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the cornmeal, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt. In another medium bowl, whisk the melted butter with the eggs, grapefruit zest and grapefruit juice. While whisking constantly, add the butter mixture to the flour mixture in a slow, steady stream. Whisk until well blended. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes, until golden and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Transfer the cake to a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Run a sharp paring knife around the edge of the cake, then invert it onto the rack. Peel off the parchment paper. Carefully flip the cake right side up and set the rack over a baking sheet. Let cool until warm, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the glaze: In a medium bowl, mix the confectioners’ sugar and poppy seeds. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the grapefruit juice until a smooth, thick glaze forms. Pour the glaze all over the top of the warm cake and spread evenly over the top and side. Let stand until set, about 30 minutes.
MAKE AHEAD: The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.