A few weeks before my nephew’s wedding, his fiancé sent me a message asking if I would make a cake for the evening buffet at the reception. I misread the message and went into panic mode, thinking she meant The Cake but thankfully no, just something to serve as dessert. Her step mum was making That Cake (and it was truly fabulous).
I decided that a chocolate Guinness cake would probably go down well, it always does at parties. I must have made dozens of them over the years and it always gets eaten up, loads of compliments and requests for the recipe. I just say "Nigella Lawson" and send people to Google it! Although these days I reduce the icing ingredients by one third.
It is however, not that much of a looker so I made a second cake that was a bit more glamorous. For a special occasion like this a Bundt cake fits the bill. They are usually easy to make, serve loads of people and, because the tin does all the heavy lifting in the glamour department, don't need much in the way of fancy icing.
There followed a few happy hours of browsing my cook books. Several candidates for the job stood out but in the end I settled for one from the most recent cook book from the Bake Off series called A Bake for All Seasons. Everyone loves a drizzle cake but this one's a bit different, using ruby grapefruit instead of lemons.
It was easy to make but I’ve given it two stars in the faff factor rating because preparing the crystallised peel for the decoration is a bit more time consuming and fiddly than I normally attempt. Preparing a Bundt tin is also time consuming but essential if the cake is going to turn out in one piece.
It looked the bees knees and got lots of compliments. It had a lovely texture and the grapefruit flavour was delightful. I managed to snaffle the last two slices to present to our neighbours who kindly let the dog out while we were out gallivanting.
Definitely a great cake for a party!
For the candied peel and the drizzle
1 ruby grapefruit (reserve the juice)
6 tblsp white caster sugar
For the cake
175g unsalted butter, softened (I used Sainsbury's Buttersoft spread)
250g golden caster sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ruby grapefruits, zest and juice
200g plain flour
150g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3 tblsp full fat Greek youghurt
For the icing
150g icing sugar
1-2 tblsp grapefruit juice reserved from the first grapefuit
pink food colouring gel
The first step is to make the crystallised peel for the decoration as it takes a long time to dry. I made mine the night before I made the cake.
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the grapefruit in wide strips. Slice each strip into thin slivers. (This is the time consuming part.) Put the shreds of grapefruit peel into a small bowl with 2-3 tablespoons of the caster sugar and mix together so that the peel is well coated. Tip onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper and leave to dry for at least four hours until crisp. I left mine overnight.
To make the sponge, prepare a suitable Bundt tin using the non-stick cake release paste which you can see here. Preheat the oven to 170°C / 150° fan / gas mk 3.
Using a stand mixer if possible, beat the butter or spread with the golden caster sugar until paler and creamy. Add the eggs in thirds, beating well between each addition, then beat in the vanilla extract.
Measure out 6 tblsp of the grapefruit juice and reserve the rest. Beat it into the mixture along with the zest. Don't worry if the mixture curdles.
Add the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt and mix on low speed to combine. Then add the yoghurt and mix briefly or until thoroughly mixed.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin. Level the top and tap the tin on the worktop or table to release any air bubbles. (I find putting a folded tea towel on the worktop or table makes me less nervous that the hard ridges in some of my Bundt tins might cause some damage if I tap too hard!)
Bake for about 45 minutes until done and the cake passes the skewer test.
While the cake is cooking make the drizzle by mixing the juice from the peeled grapefruit and mix with the remaining 3-4 tblsp of white caster sugar.
This is where I deviate from the recipe in the book which suggests you should turn out the cake after 2 minutes and leave to cool for another 15 minutes. Turning out a Bundt cake so soon is a recipe for disaster as it could break up.
Instead, leave in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Leave to cool on the rack for another 5 minutes and, while the cake is still warm, poke holes in the top with a skewer or cake tester and pour the drizzle over.
Leave to cool completely before icing.
To make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl and beat with enough of the reserved grapefruit juice to make a consistency of single cream, just runny enough to run down the grooves in the cake according to what design of Bundt tin you have used. You can leave the icing as it is because it will have a faint pinkish hue, or you can add pink food colouring gel to get a colour you like. I used just two drops to achieve a very soft pink.
Place the rack over a dinner plate so that icing that runs off can be collected and reused to build up the icing as you like. Spoon the icing over the top of the cake and let it run down and pool in the grooves of the pattern.
Scatter the crystallised grapefruit peel over the top of the cake.
Cuts into 18-20 slices.
The wedding cake. I would never attempt anything like this. The bottom tier was the most delicious fruit cake. The top two tiers were sponge cake and they were hoovered up by hungry guests on the night. Much of the fruit layer was cut up for guests to take away but there was about two thirds of it left. We have a good supply of it in our freezer!
How on earth do you cook that size of fruit cake and end up with it all cooked through perfectly? Respect to the bride's step mum who achieved the magnificent feat!