This perfectly tender and incredibly flavorful Vegan Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake may just be the best cake I have made yet! It doesn't get much better than a soft, fluffy, & eggless grapefruit cake with grapefruit glaze on top.
The best vegan grapefruit cake recipe
The inspiration for this vegan grapefruit cake recipe came from two places.
First, way back when I went to a cooking-based study abroad program in Italy and we made the most incredible Olive Oil Cake. This recipe was one of my favorites because it was so simple, yet the flavors were so distinct and the cake was so moist and fluffy. I knew I needed to create a vegan version someday!
Second, I had been really looking for a way to incorporate Grapefruit into my baking. Given that most olive oil cakes are paired with lemon or orange, grapefruit felt like the perfect way to spruce up a traditional Italian olive oil cake. Even if you aren't Grapefruit's biggest fan, I promise you will love the way it pairs with the olive oil in this delicious cake!
Can I really make a cake without butter and eggs?
The short answer is... YES!! But first, let's dive into what makes a vegan olive oil cake so difficult in the first place.
The first is the lack of butter. When you are baking a traditional cake you usually beat the sugar and butter together to start, a process called creaming.
This process helps incorporate air pockets into the batter. These air pockets work hand in hand with the leavening agent during the baking process to create that perfectly fluffy and tender cake we all love. While vegan butter can definitely lead to a similar effect, this cake relies on olive oil which is denser and cannot be creamed.
The second hurdle with baking a vegan olive oil cake? No eggs! Eggs provide structure for cakes while they rise and also help to provide that golden brown color that is so desirable.
How to make a vegan olive oil cake
When it comes to making a vegan olive oil cake you have to rely on chemical agents like baking powder and baking soda for rising and enough flour for structure. Now, that may sound easy, but finding the right combination of these ingredients together takes some experimenting.
At first, I tried using baking powder without any baking soda, but my cakes hardly rose and were dense and gummy. Next, I tried a mix of both agents, but there wasn't enough acidity in the cake batter, so the baking soda left behind an undesirable metallic taste. If you're a baking science geek like me, baking soda needs liquid AND an acid to produce gas to help your cake rise. Baking powder already has a powdered acid called cream of tartar in it already, so it only needs a liquid to activate.
It was only when I tripled the amount of baking soda, reduced the baking powder, and doubled the amount of grapefruit juice in the recipe that I achieved the perfect grapefruit cake!
The grapefruit juice served as the acid to activate the baking soda and doubling the amount of grapefruit juice perfected matched the amount of baking soda I was using to get rid of any bad taste. Plus, baking soda helps to brown your cake, so more baking soda meant a nicer color after baking.
I'm still learning as I go, but I hope these vegan baking discoveries help you in your own kitchen.
The Final Step? Grapefruit Glaze, Of Course!
To give this grapefruit cake the perfect final touch, pour on this super dreamy Grapefruit Glaze. It's so good that, frankly, you might end up doubling this part of the recipe!
PS. If you are hoping to decorate your cake with some beautiful dried grapefruit, I followed this recipe by Rachel Ray! All you need is an extra grapefruit, an oven, and about 4-5 hours of time to get the beautiful dried grapefruit topping for this cake.
I hope you have fun making this eggless, dairy-free, & Vegan Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake!
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Vegan Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake
- ¾ cup almond milk
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice strained (about 1 grapefruit, freshly squeezed and strained to exclude flesh/seeds)
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons grapefruit zest
- 2 cups pastry flour or cake flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 Tablespoon grapefruit juice
- 1 teaspoon grapefruit zest
- Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease an 8 or 9 inch springform pan and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together your almond milk, sugar, grapefruit juice, olive oil, vanilla bean paste/extract and grapefruit zest.
- Next, sift together your pastry flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a separate mixing bowl. Once evenly mixed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the large mixing bowl until a smooth cake batter is formed.
- Add the batter to the greased springform pan. Before putting the pan into the oven, tap the cake pan on the counter to release any large bubbles. Bake for 48 minutes-60 minutes until the cake is browning on top and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle.
- Remove the cake from the oven and let cool to room temperature.
- While the cake is cooling, make the glaze by adding the powdered sugar, grapefruit juice, and grapefruit zest to a small bowl and whisking until a thick but smooth glaze forms. If you want a thinner glaze, you can add additional grapefruit juice.
- Apply the glaze once the cake has reached room temperature so that it does not melt. Slice into 8 even pieces and enjoy!
- Leftover cake can be stored in a closed container at room temperature for 2-3 days, in the fridge for 4-5 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month. The cake does tend to dry out in the fridge, so the freezer is my recommended method of storing.
- Grapefruit can be subbed 1:1 with any other citrus like lemon, lime, or orange in this recipe.