The amount of excitement I feel in sharing this recipe today is pretty much insurmountable. If you’ve been following my Instagram adventures, then you know that I went through a lot of trial and error to reach the absolute perfect olive oil cake. So without further ado, let me introduce you to this perfectly tender and incredibly flavorful Vegan Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake!
Jump to that Grapefruit Cake here: Jump to Recipe
The inspiration for this 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. I knew I needed to create a vegan version some day! 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 spice up the citrus and olive oil pairing. 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!
If you’re wondering what makes a vegan olive oil cake so difficult, it comes down to two main things. 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 so there is no creaming involved. 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.
So to sum that up, when it comes to a vegan cake you essentially have to rely on chemical agents like baking powder and baking soda. 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 too dense. 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. I also attempted a version with some applesauce as a potential egg replacement, but this only made the cake more dense. 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 cake! I’m still learning as I go, but I hope these vegan baking discoveries help you in your own kitchen.
To really give this 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! Oh and PS, if you’re hoping to decorate your cake with some beautiful dried grapefruit, I followed THIS easy to follow recipe from Gretchen at Kumquat (minus the chocolate!). 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. Hope you have fun making this cake and eating it too!
In case you are looking for some of the tools & ingredients used in this recipe, I’ve put a few of my favorites for you here:
- I use the Wilton 8″ Springform Pan for this recipe and it makes it so easy. No flipping upside down and hoping the cake still looks pretty. Yay!
- As always, I added vanilla bean to this cake and the glaze for that extra oomph of flavor. My favorite brand is Heilala Vanilla. It’s a little pricey, but I truly feel the quality and flavor is unmatched!