Pink Grapefruit, Brown Butter and Bay Leaf Cakes

Pink Grapefruit, Brown Butter and Bay Leaf Cakes

(Pink Grapefruit, Brown Butter and Bay Leaf Cakes)

There are no flowers in my garden at the moment. Zilch. Not from lack of trying, mind you. It’s just that everything feels as though it has come to a standstill. I could blame Winter, or I could just feel a bit grateful that the nasturtiums, lovage and bay tree are still moderately flourishing despite my attempts at love (read : possible over watering).

The bay tree is probably the oldest survivor of our garden. A gift from my mom many years ago, it has proven useful in flavouring soups and stews, as well as custards, ice-cream and cakes like the ones below. A few fresh bay leaves are even said to be the prescribed natural remedy for preventing an infestation of weevils in your kitchen cupboards.

Pink Grapefruit, Brown Butter and Bay Leaf Cakes

Despite the lack of flowers, it’s hard to begrudge Winter its lack of colour when there are pears and quinces to poach and all manner of citrus fruits to eat and bake with. Left with a single pink grapefruit languishing in the fruit bowl on our kitchen counter, I decided to turn it into a batch of small cakes. The cakes are pretty easy to put together, and can be customised to suit the season (blueberries in Summer, cherry blossoms in Spring..).

Pink Grapefruit, Brown Butter and Bay Leaf Cake

Pink grapefruit, brown butter and bay leaf cakes :
(makes 12 little cakes)

110g unsalted butter
3 bay leaves
3 large eggs
180g plain Greek-style yoghurt
finely grated zest of 1 large pink grapefruit
225g plain flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of sea salt
170g caster sugar

Grease a 12-hole mini bundt tray. Preheat oven to 170’C.

Brown the butter with the 3 bay leaves. Strain, discarding the solids. You should have 80g of bay leaf-infused brown butter. Allow to cool a little before using.

In a large bowl, combine the plain flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the brown butter, eggs, yoghurt and grapefruit zest, and add this to the dry ingredients. Mix well. Pipe mixture into the greased bundt tray. Bake for 18-20 minutes. The cakes should spring back when lightly pressed.

Unmould the cakes and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Make a drizzly icing with icing sugar and some of the juice from the pink grapefruit (to make the icing more pink, tint it with beetroot powder) and decorate the cakes with as much or as little icing as you please. Finish by dusting with bay leaf powder (dry a handful of fresh bay leaves in a low oven for 10-15 minutes until crisp. Blend to a powder in a spice grinder).

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Orange and yoghurt drizzle cake

(Orange and yoghurt drizzle cake)

Icing a cake, it has to be said, is purely an optional exercise 99% of the time. At the discretion of the baker, a cake may be garnished with a pelmet of extra sugar to either hide inadequacies or enhance its visual appeal (ie. hide inadequacies). The icing I’m speaking of here is plain water icing; icing sugar and a tablespoon or two of lemon juice or water, mixed to a flowing consistency. Chocolate frosting, as everyone knows, is an entirely different matter altogether, as it is almost always a compulsory addition to any chocolate cake!

From the point of view of someone whose parents were fairly strict about their cake and sugar intake, I must admit this cake was iced with a large amount of childish glee, perhaps to the point of being over-iced. Take that, Choc-Top-free childhood, banned Jacobs gem biscuits with crispy frosting and total and utter lack of fairy bread! Hmm.. Maybe this is why I can’t have iced things.

Oranges are such a bargain at the moment, so orange and yoghurt cake was made twice this week. One cake served us well over many tea breaks. This iced one will hopefully take us through the weekend.

Orange and yoghurt drizzle cake :
(adapted from a recipe in Mix & Bake by Belinda Jeffery)

450g plain flour
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3 eggs
400g sugar
250g softened butter
250g thin yoghurt (or kefir)
grated zest of 2 oranges, juice from 1 orange

Preheat oven to 150’C.

In a Thermomix or food processor, process the eggs and sugar until pale. Add the butter and continue processing until well incorporated. Pulse in the yoghurt, zest and juice, followed by the flour, baking soda and salt. Scrape the mixture into a greased and floured large bundt tin. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool for a few minutes before turning it out onto a plate or wire rack. While the cake is still warm, brush it with the orange syrup then allow to cool completely before icing (if you wish).

Orange syrup :
110g icing sugar
50g orange juice

Mix the icing sugar with the orange juice. Set aside until ready to use.

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