Grapefruit and Cardamom Pound Cake
Buttery, tender, juicy pound cake flavoured with zesty, sweet and bitter grapefruit and spiced with citrusy/woody cardamom. It’s a moist cake with great texture. All ingredients are playing together perfectly - grapefruit, cardamom, coconut, rum - one not overpowering another - and all creating perfectly refreshing and tender pound cake. The cake is then glazed (brushed) with warm grapefruit-salted butter glaze.
Added bonus - this cake keeps fresh for up to 7 days and gets better as time passes. We would recommend to bake this cake an evening before it’s served - to allow all the flavours to blend in.
If you are a fan of heavy and sugary icing - the topping from this recipe is not that. It's more of a glaze which is brushed on top of the pound cake when still warm. Salted butter cuts through the sugar nicely. We are also using higher amount of grapefruit juice for stronger zesty taste.
We love to use zesty, bitter-sweet grapefruit in our bakes. Check out our recipes for:
Grapefruit and Cardamom Pound Cake Recipe
Yield: 16 -18 servings
Time: 30 minutes prep + 70-75 min baking
Tin: 12 cup bundt form (25.4 x 25.4 x 10.2 cm), or long 11x35cm loaf tin
For grapefruit pound cake:
- 275g unsalted butter, room temperature (soft)
- 2 cups (400g) caster sugar
- zest from 2 grapefruits (2 Tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 and 2/3 cups* (400g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom (or ground seeds from 5 pods)
- 3/4 cup (186ml) heavy/double cream, room temperature
- 1/4 cup (62ml) grapefruit juice (juice from 1 medium grapefruit), room temperature
- 1 Tablespoon (15ml) rum
- 2 Tablespoons (14g) desiccated coconut
For grapefruit-salted butter glaze:
- 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 cup (62ml) grapefruit juice
- 1 Tablespoon (15g) salted butter
- 1 Tbsp rum (optional)
*cup = 250ml cup
1. Preheat oven to 170C. Brush bundt tin with a thin layer of butter and dust with flour (sift flour, tap and then remove excess).
2. Prepare dry ingredients: Sift flour with baking powder, salt and cardamom.
3. Prepare wet ingredients: Squeeze grapefruit juice (process through sifter as you want to get a clear grapefruit juice). Mix grapefruit juice with double/heavy cream and rum. Set aside.
4. Prepare fluffy pound cake base: In a large bowl beat butter for 2 minutes until soft and pale (stand mixer - paddle attachment, or use handheld mixer). Start adding sugar - 2 Tablespoons at a time, mixing on medium to high speed. It should take some 5-8 minutes to incorporate the sugar fully. Scrape sides of the bowl every so often to maker sure sugar is incorporated evenly. If you work with stand mixer - make sure there is no un-mixed residue at the bottom of the bowl. Add grapefruit zest, vanilla extract and mix for 1 minute, then start adding eggs (reduce speed to medium) - one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
5. Combine: Using spatula or mixing on lowest speed start adding wet and dry ingredients (from Step 2 and 3) to your fluffy cake base (from Step 4) - add in 4 turns alternating between dry and wet ingredients (dry/wet/dry/wet etc)., mixing only until combined. As a last step fold in 2 Tablespoons of coconut. Don’t over mix but make sure no flour pockets remain. The batter should be light and fluffy. Transfer cake batter onto pound cake form, spread evenly.
6. Bake at 170C for first 35 minutes, then lower the temperature to 160C and bake for another 35-40 minutes. After 70 minutes check with the skewer if fully baked through - it should come out clean with no uncooked streaks of batter (it may come out moist which is ok). Once baked, take out from the oven and let it cool in the bundt form for 30 minutes, then tap few times gently to release edges and take out onto the cooling rack. Apply the glaze on warm cake. Leave the cake to rest overnight before serving (to let all the juices and flavours to blend in).
7. Prepare grapefruit-salted butter glaze: Mix confectioners’ sugar with grapefruit juice until smooth (if you are not using rum - substitute here with additional 1 Tbsp grapefruit juice). In a small pot melt salted butter and add sugar mixed with grapefruit juice - cook on low-medium heat for about 1 minute until smooth (use pot with heavy bottom). Take off the heat and add 1 Tbsp rum (if using). Apply on warm pound cake (brush). This glaze sets quickly so apply when still warm or place pot on small heat to warm it up when it starts setting.
1. Use ingredients at room temperature where specified. This will help to avoid soggy cake bottom and will contribute to light texture.
2. Butter - leave for 30 minutes to 1 hour at room temperature before using. You want it to be soft - this way it will absorb sugar easily and will create fluffy base for your pound cake. Take your time at this stage - beating butter with sugar and zest will take some 12-15 minutes.
3. Sugar - if you can’t get caster sugar you may opt to process/grind sugar for few seconds to achieve finer texture. You may also bake on granulated sugar - just make sure that in Step 4 (preparing fluffy cake base) sugar is fully incorporated into butter (with larger structured sugar it may take up to 15 minutes).
4. Flour - we recommend sifting twice - first when mixing all dry ingredients, then when adding in 4 turns to cake batter (just before adding to the batter).
5. Don’t substitute heavy cream with buttermilk or milk in this recipe - it’s all about the texture here and moisture - we are reducing butter content and infusing moisture with cream and grapefruit juice. To do so, fat content in proper pound cake has to stay intact - hence using heavy/double cream (at least 36%) is required here.
6. Grapefruits - you will need 2 large grapefruits for this recipe. You will use juice (split between glaze and cake) and zest (going into the cake only). We recommend using ruby grapefruits but cake works well using white grapefruits or oroblanco if you want to go for stronger zesty (and bitter-sweet) flavour.
7. Zest - make sure to wash fruit with hot water and brush before using (we use regular, clean hand brush and leave fruit to rest for 1-2 hours before we zest the fruit). Use unwaxed, organic grapefruits.
8. Cardamom - this spice brings out citrusy and woody notes in grapefruit. You can up the content to 2 teaspoons if you are a fan of this spice. If you can’t get ground cardamom - mill seeds from 5 pods (will yield approx. 1 tsp ground) with small amount of flour. If you don’t like cardamom you can skip it or replace with nutmeg (read Jazz it up section to see what spices work well in this pound cake).
9. Coconut and rum - coconut mellows the taste somewhat and brings softer side of grapefruit in this recipe. It does not overpower the taste (hardly noticeable) but brings a little crunch in the texture and keeps moisture intact. Rum - complements grapefruit and is hardly noticeable as well - helps in keeping the pound cake fresh for longer. You will get stronger rum taste if you opt to use it in icing.
10. Bake time - quite few recipes recommend baking pound cakes at 160C - that works great with many pound cakes. In our recipe (which is high in juice) that temperature was too low. 170C in initial 35 minutes allows the cake to rise, 160C in the last 35 minutes prevents the pound cake from drying out. In the same time 175-180C - is too high for this pound cake - you will end up with burnt surface and dry middle.
11. Let the pound cake rest overnight before serving to let juices and flavours to blend in. This cake is moist and juicy and gets even better with the time! Store at room temperature (21C) for up to 7days.
Jazz it up:
1. Zest - you can use any citrusy fruit in this recipe. We recommend going with grapefruit - it just gives a different, sweet-bitter dimension and great zesty kick (finishing punch - first you get sweet flavour, the buttery, cardamom-coconut and at the end zesty and bitter grapefruit punch). So if you really have to change it - go with orange, lemon, lime (use lime juice but lemon zest - lime is our second top choice for this pound cake!), blood orange, white grapefruit.
2. Alcohol - we baked this cake on Bourbon - definitely more boozy than rum (rum is almost unnoticeable) but complements the flavours well.
3. Coconut - if you are a fan, this pound cake can take up to 4 Tbsps coconut (with other ratios staying the same). You may also opt to toast coconut flakes (5-6 minutes at 170C) and sprinkle on the glaze.
4. Spices - nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, rosemary (grind with flour) - all will work well in this recipe.