It wouldn’t be January in the Misanthropic kitchen without a grapefruit recipe. In fact, I started thinking about what to make way back in November (I am convinced there is a relationship between losing the light as the year grows old and craving the brightness of vitamin C-packed fruit). This year there were two front-runners. However, as it is my enduring goal to have my cake and eat it too, I decided to use one with a different kind of citrus (to be continued in February) and chose a new twist on an old recipe for my beloved grapefruit.
We’ll start with the twist: grapefruit and basil syrup. I know, I know basil is generally a summer flavor. But, I couldn’t shake the idea and so decided that if I could find it at my local, generally understocked grocery store, it might be something others could also find this time of year. For frame of reference, on the day I went in search of ingredients, there were no mushrooms to be found at the store we lovingly refer to as Ghetto Ralphs. But, there was basil. It was on the expensive side. But remember, it’s grapefruit season which means they were practically giving them away.
Grapefruit rind+ a couple of cups of fresh basil leaves+sugar and water+heat=the kind of smell you’d like to dab behind your ears.
Now for an oldy but a goody, Ina Garten’s lemon yogurt cake. Riffing on a recipe is always easier when you know the original is a ringer.
I just swapped-out the lemon zest for grapefruit zest and, because I was feeling adventurous, used a runnier, European style full-fat yogurt. Both substitutions were a success.
The loaf on its own is lovely. But, we know the key to this cake is the syrup poured over the top while still warm. And this is where our basil and grapefruit syrup makes its debute. The result? Refreshing! The basil adds complexity to the flavor without being overwhelming.
For an added bonus, the leftover syrup will store nicely in the fridge for a few weeks because really, who wouldn’t want a little grapefruit-basil-vodka cocktail on a Friday afternoon?
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adapted from Ina Garten
Grapefruit and Basil Simple Syrup
- 2 C basil leaves
- 1 C sugar
- 4X1 inch strips of pink or ruby red grapefruit zest
- 1 C water
- Bruise the basil leaves bit with your hands to release the oils.
- Place basil, sugar, water and zest in medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Turn on medium heat and let it come to a boil and allow the sugar to dissolve.
- Turn off heat. Allow mixture to steep for at least an hour while it cools to room temperature.
- Strain syrup through a fine-meshed sieve and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
- 1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
- 3 extra-large eggs
- 1 TBS pink or ruby red grapefruit zest
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup grapefruit and basil simple syrup
For the glaze:
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease, flour and line pan with parchment.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, grapefruit zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
- When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pierce cake all over with a bamboo skewer than pour the grapefruit and basil syrup over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.
- For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and grapefruit juice to desired consistency and pour over the cake.