Fresh Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake

Simple and bright cake perfect for brunch, afternoon tea, or dessert. This cake features grapefruit zest and olive oil for a light and flavorful treat. This delicious cake is easy to make and best served with a dusting of powdered sugar and/or fruit. Recipe makes one 9-inch round cake and serves 12. Vegetarian.

I love using citrus in baked goods because it’s beautiful, bright, and fresh. The variety of citrus fruits available means lots of options for flavor, and each type is unique and delicious. Orange zest is sweet, lemon zest is sour, lime is tangy, and grapefruit is tart.

Grapefruit is one of my favorite flavors to use in baking because it’s less common. When paired with olive oil, tart grapefruit zest makes a cake that’s delicious and light.

This Fresh Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake is amazingly simple and great for the beginning of spring. It can be served any time of day, and the flavor pairs with almost any type of cuisine or menu.

If you’ve never baked with grapefruit or olive oil, this recipe is the perfect way to start! It comes together in no time, and you’ll want to make it again and again!

Ingredients in this Grapefruit Cake Recipe:

  • Citrus sugar– rubbing citrus zest into the sugar distributes it evenly and forms the flavorful base of the cake
  • Eggs– provide protein, structure, and texture
  • Sour Cream– brings moisture, provides richness (from the fat in the dairy), and makes the cake tender
  • Olive Oil– gives light flavor and the fruity notes pair well with the citrus
  • Grapefruit Juice– provides flavor and moisture in lieu of added oil
  • All-Purpose Flour– AP flour helps retain cake structure and crumb
  • Dry mixture– baking powder, salt, ginger, and nutmeg
  • Vanilla Extract– not too much to overwhelm the delicate fruit but enhance and sweeten it

Fresh Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake is light and fluffy but has the right balance of moisture so it holds together well-enough to be a handheld snack cake.

How to Make Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake:

  1. Preheat oven and prep a 9 inch round cake pan by greasing or using baking spray. Lightly dust the pan with powdered sugar for easily releasing.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, nutmeg) and set aside— combing them first, in a separate bowl, ensures the dry ingredients (like baking powder) are activated at the right time.
  3. Make citrus sugar: combine the grapefruit zest with the sugar for about 30 seconds. Rubbing the zest into the sugar with hands brings out the oils in the zest and ensures the flavor of the fruit throughout the cake (zest tends to clump if added later in the batter).
  4. Beat in wet ingredients (eggs, sour cream, olive oil, grapefruit juice, and vanilla): these can be beaten on medium-low with a mixer or by hand with a whisk. Batter should be smooth and thin, with a few bubbles.
  5. Fold in dry ingredients: add in dry ingredients all at once and working from the outside of the bowl inward, stir batter together until just combined. The baking powder is reacting with the sour cream and acid in the juice now, so we don’t want to overmix the batter (and risk a cake not rising well).
  6. Pour batter into the pan and bake: add the cake to the oven promptly for best results. Bake until top springs back and is golden brown, and edges are lightly browned– about 35 minutes. This may take a few minutes more or less, depending on your cake pan or your oven.
  7. Let cool then serve: let stand in the cake pan for 15 minutes then remove and let cool completely before serving with powdered sugar and/or as desired. Cooling the cake before dusting with sugar keeps the sugar from ‘melting’ into the top of the cake.

What Pairs Well with Citrus Olive Oil Cake?

  • Hot or cold tea
  • Fresh citrus segments or fresh berries
  • Whipped cream, custard, frozen yogurt or ice cream
  • Honey
  • Prosecco, Cava, or champagne
  • Fresh mint

For a simple and beautiful presentation, generously dust with powdered sugar. A grapefruit glaze would also work, although it will make the cake more suited for dessert.

Try These Other Citrus Desserts:

Fresh Grapefruit Cake on a serving platter

Fresh Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake

Emma J. Watling
Simple and bright cake perfect for brunch, afternoon tea, or dessert. This cake features grapefruit zest and olive oil for a light and flavorful treat. Recipe makes one 9-inch round cake and serves 12. Vegetarian (contains eggs and dairy).
No ratings yet
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Resting Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Brunch, Dessert
Cuisine American, Holidays
Servings 12
Calories 220 kcal


  • cups All-purpose flour (210 g)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup sugar (201 g)
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp grapefruit zest (zest of 1 grapefruit)
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp grapefruit juice (~1/4 of a medium grapefruit)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • powdered sugar, for serving


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray or grease a 9 inch round cake pan and sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar (just to coat, no excess). In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), add the sugar. Zest the grapefruit over the sugar and working with hands or a fork, rub mixture together until fragrant and evenly distributed, about 30 seconds.
  • Add in eggs, sour cream, olive oil, grapefruit juice, and vanilla. Beat on medium-low speed until thin and smooth (ingredients should be fully incorporated and a few bubbles will appear).
  • Using a spoon or rubber spatula, fold in the dry ingredients until just combined (no visible streaks of flour remain; batter may contain a few lumps– don't overmix).
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 35 minutes, or until crust and top are golden brown and toothpick inserted comes out clean. *depending on your oven and baking pan, bake time may be between 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Let cake cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar, if desired. Cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to 4 days.


Serve cake slices with powdered sugar and fresh fruit, if desired. 
If topping with fresh grapefruit segments, only do so just before serving (to prevent cake top from sweating)
Cake may be frozen for longer storage: wrap individual slices in freezer safe wrap (plastic then foil and add to a freezer safe bag). Thaw to room temperature and enjoy. Frozen cake should be used within 2 months.


Serving: 1sliceCalories: 220kcalCarbohydrates: 29.8gProtein: 3.4gFat: 10.2gSaturated Fat: 2.5gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 119mgPotassium: 121mgFiber: 0.5gSugar: 16.8gCalcium: 55mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Brunch, Citrus Cake, Grapefruit, Olive Oil, One-Layer Cakes
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

If you’re looking for an easy and light cake to add to your Easter brunch, give this one a try! It’s perfect for those who don’t want something super sweet or over the top, but it’s flavorful and fresh–and definitely delicious.

Happy Spring, everyone! Be on the lookout for more fresh recipes coming soon!

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