Breakfast Birthday Cake

Yesterday was my birthday! In celebration of my joyous descent from the no-sugar wagon, I made cake for breakfast. Grapefruit cardamom cake.

I really liked the idea of the little rhubarb streusel cakes I made at Vif, so I based my recipe  on that one. (Although I didn’t taste them, the principal was definitely sound: moist butter cake, bright fruit, sweet crunchy topping.)

I gave the streusel some extra crunch with almonds, used fat grapefruit slices and grapefruit-vanilla syrup in place of the rhubarb compote, included whole wheat pastry flour in a nod to health and heft, and flavored the cake with cardamom and grapefruit zest. I conceived of it as a coffee cake, but it turned out to be really rich, with as much streusel as cake. SO good. Next time I make it, I’ll serve it for dessert with vanilla (or cardamom!) ice cream

i prepped it all the night before.


The best winter/spring fruit!
spring’s still citrus time.




Vanilla beans in evidence
vanilla and grapefruit, nuff said

I ate a big piece with whipped cream, lightly sweetened and flavored with vanilla and a spoonful of yogurt. And, of course, a cup of strong black coffee.

After the oven
skillet cake.


Nestled citrus
nestled slice

Here’s the recipe:

Grapefruit Cardamom Cake


¾ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup plus 2T whole wheat pastry flour
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
¾ t baking powder
½ t salt
1.5 t ground cardamom
1 t grapefruit zest
½ cup yogurt
6 T melted butter
1 egg
1 t vanilla

Grapefruit topping

1 large grapefruit, peeled, pith removed
¼ cup sugar
½ vanilla bean


½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
1 t cardamom
pinch of salt
6 T melted butter
¼ cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped

Prepare the grapefruit: Peel it, and remove the pith with a sharp pairing knife, keeping segments as intact as possible. Put them in a bowl with the vanilla, add the sugar, and toss gently. Let sit for at least two hours, or overnight. Pour the liquid from the bottom of the bowl into a saucepan and simmer gently with the vanilla bean for a few minutes, until you have a light syrup. Squeeze out the vanilla bean and discard the husk. (A note on vanilla beans: store them in booze so they’ll stay fresh and readily yield their innards. Rum works nicely.)

Make the streusel: Combine sugar, salt, spices, butter, and almonds. Stir in ¾ of the flour, adding more as needed, until you have chunky crumbles. You can make the streusel a day ahead and refrigerate it.

Make the cake: Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Thoroughly butter an 8×8 baking pan, a 9” cast iron skillet (if you want a nice crunchy edge), or 9 small ring molds. Whisk together flour, sugars, salt, cardamom, zest, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Whisk together yogurt, butter, egg, and vanilla in another (large) bowl. Fold dry ingredients into wet until just combined. Scrape into prepared pan (batter will be thick) and spread with a spatula to cover the bottom of the pan. Add grapefruit slices in a pleasing array, pour syrup over, and top with streusel (all of it!).

Bake for 35ish minutes, rotating halfway through, or until a knife or cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean (it’ll be a little wet under the streusel on account of the fruit and syrup). Let cool to room temperature before slicing. Serve with whipped cream and strong coffee or vanilla ice cream and good bourbon.

spot the flip phone
spot the flip-phone!

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