the narrowboat baker

Baking on a narrowboat named "One Thing After Another"

Grapefruit, Rosemary and Honey Cake

I’ll be honest… I didn’t want to make this cake. I’ve had a lot going on lately and to be honest the thought of baking anything isn’t really appealing right now, which is why I suppose its been so long since I’ve posted. However, despite my current ill health which has made me feel this way, I figured I needed to do something and maybe try a new adventure in the kitchen! That would snap me out of my dark phase!

The idea of grapefruit in a cake didn’t really do much for me to begin with, until I started thinking…

I’d been wanting to try something different in a cake for a while, after becoming a bit complacent with the “classics”. For some reason I had grapefruit in my head. (I’m going through a phase at the moment where I’m in love with eating half a red grapefruit as part of my breakfast). Now, as I said, despite me having grapefruit in my head, the idea of some sort of grapefruit cake did nothing for me to begin with, nor could I even think of how to incorporate it into a cake without it messing up ratios etc.

Anyway, all this debating got me thinking of a fantastic Grapefruit and Rosemary Cocktail I’d had in Paris a few years back and remembering that cocktail filled me with a burst of enthusiasm! Whilst grapefruit is renowned for being somewhat bitter, the cocktail I’m talking about was surprisingly smooth. It was sweet, but not to the point of being overly sweet or sickly. So that was it….I decided to make a Grapefruit and Rosemary cake. 

It sounded weird enough to give me a curiosity and excitement about what it would taste like (rosemary is for savoury things, no?)and if nothing else, it would kill a few hours…

I was shocked with the result. In a good way! I always get incredibly upset when I think up something and then spend hours making it, only for it to turn out as a disaster (well, what I consider a disaster anyway!). And believe me, more often than not, the things I dream up and then attempt to make turn out as disasters more often than not ( I just dont document them on here!) This was amazing and I was really pleased with it – really moist and gooey but light and refreshing at the same time – not leaving you feeling bloated or sick after you’ve eaten a piece, or two ;)

I really have to say, I think that this is one of my favourite cakes of all time. What was lovely about it was the fact that the grapefruit provided the citrus “zing” whilst the mearest hint of the rosemary rounded it off and smoothed it out, creating a really rounded, pleasant flavour for a cake. Pawel was incredibly nervous about eating the cake too, as he was confused why I was putting rosemary into it(!?) whilst making, but even he loved it. It’ll definately be a regular in here now!

I find it doesn’t need any rich icings, buttercreams or anything else. Any other adornments like that would simply take away from the subtle flavours. I kept mine simple and elegant, with just a heavy dusting of icing sugar at the end, using a stencil I drew onto greaseproof paper (inspired by the leaves of our little birch tree outside on the mooring)

* * * * * * * * * * * * 

Makes one 9″ cake – you will need a deep 9″ spring-form cake tin


  • 2 medium sized red (or pink) grapefruits
  • 225g plain flour
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 30g ground almonds + an extra 2 heaped tbsp
  • 5 medium eggs, room temperature
  • 60ml good quality olive oil
  • 60ml honey
  • 1 heaped tbsp of really finely chopped, fresh rosemary
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp salt


1. Preheat your oven to Gas 4 or 180c/350f. Oil the 9-inch cake pan and dust it with the 2 heaping tablespoons of ground almonds. This will help you unmould the cake after baking.

2. Next, finely grate the zest of both grapefruits. Cut one of the grapefruits in half and juice it so you have 185ml of juice. Combine this juice along with the zest and olive oil in a small bowl. 


3. In your stand mixer, with the flat beater, or by hand in a bowl, beat the eggs until frothy and light and then start slowly adding the sugar, followed by the honey. Mix until the mixture becomes a lighter hue and is quite thick – it’ll take about 2-3 minutes.


 4. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, the ground almonds, salt and baking powder together. Gradually beat the flour mix, about a third at a time, into the egg mixture. Mix until combined, follwed by gradually foldingin the zest mixture until just combined.


5. Now simply fold through the finely chopped rosemary until evenly distributed in the cake mixture.


6. Pour the cake mixture the batter into the cake tin and bake for around 45-50minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the top has just turned an amber-golden brown colour. Start checking the cake after about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes in the cake tin followed by removing it from the cake tin to finish off cooling.

 7. When ready to serve, simply dust the top with plenty of icing sugar. I cut out an intricate stencil that I created to decorate with and I used greaseproof paper as the cake is slightly sticky, so it was perfect to use that as it stuck to the cake whilst I dusted with the icing sugar. You could do something similar to mine, using either a bought stencil or even your own design. The result is really elegant and I feel that the cake needs nothing else. 



* * * * * * * * *

This definitely is one of my favourite cakes now. It is so simple yet elegant and doesn’t really need anything else other than a good cup of coffee or a pot of tea. I served mine with a dollop of creme fraiche which beautifully rounded off the zing of the grapefruit. I could eat this for days!!



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7 comments on “Grapefruit, Rosemary and Honey Cake

  1. lemongrovecakediaries
    September 1, 2013

    What a great combination of flavours, the clean fresh taste of grapefruit would go so well with the more savoury and fragrant rosemary and the smooth mellow sweet taste of honey – it sounds delicious. I also love what you have done with the stencils, very creative.
    Great blog, I’m looking forward to following and checking out more of your recipes!

  2. themondaybaker
    September 1, 2013

    It looks beautiful -the stencil is particularly attractive.

  3. Paula @ Vintage Kitchen Notes
    September 3, 2013

    I really like grapefruit zest in a simple cake, and recreating the flavors of cocktails. This one sure looks wonderful! Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  4. delicieux
    September 4, 2013

    What a gorgeous cake! I’ve had a cocktail with grapefruit and rosemary in it before too, and if it tastes anything like that cocktail did, it would be amazing.

  5. Experience Food Intl.
    September 8, 2013

    Quite creative. Sounds delish. Loving the stencil idea.
    Hope you are feeling better.

  6. rachsmith
    September 14, 2013

    Sorry you’ve not been well…I do find that baking is a great way of raising spirits. Hope you’re feeling a little better. I’ve never seen anything like the design on the top of the cake. It’s just beautiful. Such a clever idea.

  7. Michelle
    March 9, 2014

    Oh this looks absolutely gorgeous :) Love the design in icing sugar. I always forget to do that, even though I was taught at school :) Must try this next time I’m in the mood for baking.

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This entry was posted on August 18, 2013 by in Uncategorized.

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