Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Grapefruit Olive Oil Pound Cake


I used to read about this plight of new moms -- that every time they had a few minutes to themselves (a blessed few minutes when the baby is asleep!), they would spin around in a circle trying to decide how to spend those minutes. Your brain starts overheating with all these suddenly urgent things you need to do: Shower! Nap! Do some laundry! Empty the dishwasher! Do yoga! Read a chapter of that book that's been sitting on the coffee table for weeks while you watched all 11 seasons of Frasier (who did that? certainly not I.)!

By the time you've decided what to do, say, made yourself a cup of tea and sat down with that book... the baby wakes up. And then you slap yourself in the face for wasting all that time deciding how to spend your time.

What to DO?!


I figured out last week that if I made a list of daily goals, I would with absolute certainty not accomplish them, and then at the end of the day I would look around the living room and wonder where all the time went. HINT: It went into the tiny human being who needs to be held and fed about 18 hours a day. Worth it! Still, I'd like to be able to get some things done. So my new idea is to start having a weekly list of goals -- manageable things like fold the laundry, try one new recipe, read a chapter of that darn book, finish writing the thank-you notes -- and just try to pick one every day. Similarly, I would like to make a list of things to do while the baby is napping, so that when I start spinning in my circle, I just glance at my list, pick a thing, and get to it. I'll let you know how it goes.

This year, we celebrated my birthday a little at a time. Gifts from my family, a few cards in the mail, a bottle of Zinfandel from a vineyard we toured on our honeymoon in Napa. A few days later, two different varieties of local honey from the Bay Area, lavender bath salts, a book of quotes by Desmond Tutu, and little sticky page flags with watercolor prints of fruits and vegetables on them. With every box I opened, I thought how lucky I am to have a few close friends who really know me. On Saturday, we took Anne with us for lunch at a new Thai restaurant/sushi bar, and then I went (all by myself!) to have a massage. Little by little, in this new year, we are creating a life for ourselves that is rich and extraordinarily satisfying. We're making plans and growing and learning more each day about love, sacrifice, balance, and priorities.


My favorite cakes are the everyday ones; simple cakes that are baked in one pan, that come together quickly and with few ingredients, but leave nothing to be desired in terms of flavor. This cake is a perfect thing to bring to a tea party on a cold January morning, which is just what Anne and I did.


Grapefruit Olive Oil Pound Cake
from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

For the cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons freshly grated grapefruit zest
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons grapefruit juice
1/3 cup kefir (or buttermilk or plain yogurt)

For the syrup:
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup grapefruit juice

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons grapefruit juice
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8.5x4.5-inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, combine the sugars and grapefruit zest, and blend them well with your fingertips, to infuse the sugar with as much citrus oil as possible. Whisk in the oil, and then add the eggs one at a time. Mix well.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a second bowl, and fluff them together with a fork. Combine 2 tablespoons of grapefruit juice and the kefir in a liquid measuring cup. Add half the flour mixture to the oil and sugar mixture, then the grapefruit juice and kefir, and then the rest of the flour, mixing well after each addition. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan while you make the syrup: combine the grapefruit juice and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring just until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Invert the cake onto a cooling rack set over a pan, poke holes all over the top with a toothpick, and carefully spoon the syrup over it. Allow to cool completely.

To make the glaze, combine powdered sugar, grapefruit juice, and salt in a bowl, and whisk until smooth. Pour the glaze over the top of the cooled cake.

Note: if you are bringing this cake to a tea party, wrap the cake and glaze separately, and pour the glaze over when you get to your destination.


  1. Oh my. This looks like heaven. I will have to try it!

  2. Dang it! It's breakfast time and this is NOT in my pantry. So sad.

  3. I am so SO glad that your birthday was delightful and that you were able to steal a little time for yourself for a massage :) Your pound cake looks amazing, of course!

  4. Very important question: what do I do with the syrup? This is baking right now and I feel like a step was skipped somewhere.

    1. You pour the syrup into the poked holes to made on top of the cake. The cake should absorb it. The glaze is the white coating on TOP of the cake.