I suppose it started when I found myself saying “Yes” to every kid from Charlottesville High School Band that asked me to buy fruit in their fundraising drive late last fall. We’ve always bought fruit to support the local high school marching band, because my better half, having done that himself, likes to support the local band, although I have to admit that these last few years I’ve been a supporter knowing these are the same families we’re going to hit up when Edie starts fundraising for orchestra next year. Some of our family are big citrus fans and eat it up rather quickly, but I found a few pieces languishing in the drawer (no doubt a testament to how many times I said YES), so I thought I’d get crafty with it and try my hand at baking with it.
A few years ago, I tried a grapefruit cake that came from a reputable internet source – I’m not linking to it, but trust me, it’s one of those foodie websites that has produced a cookbook and people swear the author is AMAZING. You know the type. So I made said grapefruit cake recipe and it was a dud, but a few years had gone by and I needed to use up some of the grapefruit in the drawer, so I gave it another go. This time, I had Edie assist me, because you know she does everything To. The. Letter. in the kitchen, especially when baking. And the result? Let’s just say, I took my boss a piece and he declared it ‘healthy cake’ as did the friends of Edie that she shared it with at school. And if there are two words that should never, ever be used anywhere near each other, EVER, it’s healthy and cake.
So I agreed to toss the cake recipe. We need no more attempts at a grapefruit cake that results in something that does not taste like grapefruit, but “healthy” (it called for olive oil, no butter and whole wheat flour and no frosting. It seemed like a good idea….like a pound cake, with grapefruit! but I know, what was I thinking? I mean, I can read a recipe and tell it sucks and this one screams HEALTHY and I still went with it!). Still, I wanted to experiment with baking with grapefruit. So I thought I’d try subbing grapefruit for lemon in my favorite lemon bars recipe. I mean, it seemed like a good idea, right? It seems like you could just be able to substitute one citrus juice for another, yes?
The resulting squares were brown and flavorless. No lovely citrus zing to them. Not entirely defeated, I decided to google the topic. Because when all else fails, look at the instructions, yes?
Turns out, grapefruit is not nearly as acidic as lemon and so not a good substitute in baking. That would explain it I suppose. I mean, even using the zest didn’t add the same flavor as lemon zest does. So my grand ideas of a fabulous ruby red grapefruit square didn’t turn out. C’est la vie. The episode made Edie girl remind me I need to make my lemon squares again soon, with lemon, because they really are all that. And it serves as good lesson that just because there’s multiple recipes for something on the internet doesn’t make it good. I mean, anyone can publish recipes on the internet and hello, I would be exhibit A on that. Although in my defense, I only publish recipes that I know work. I do this blogging thing for fun, I don’t have sponsors and I’m not under any pressure to constantly produce content and new recipes. My approach to sharing recipes is more along the lines of, holy crap this is good and I need to share this with my friends. Which probably explains why I’m not entirely a food blogger, you get all the life stuff thrown in, but then, I know at least some of you read here regularly for that and not the recipes.
All that said, I still do have one more grapefruit recipe I want to try, but it comes from a cookbook and an author I totally trust. So I think I might try that and if it turns out, I’ll share it with you.
Wasn’t it Abraham Lincoln that said not to believe everything you read on the internet? That applies to recipes as well. Except mine. I know what I’m talking about.
(The bluebells have absolutely nothing to do with this post, other than they are infinitely better looking than the poor excuses for baked goods that are the actual subject of this post.)
9 thoughts on “Lessons.”
I love grapefruit and I really love cake, but don’t think I’d want to combine them!
I was thinking it would be like a good lemon cake, but grapefruit! Sigh. It was not.
But now you know!
I cannot abide grapefruit. I’m not surprised it makes a shitty cake.
I wish you could have seen the face of the girl from my cooking class as I was telling the kids about my experiment – when I called it ‘healthy cake’, my girl totally said, ‘that’s just not right’. I know. Bless her heart, she gets it.
I loved this post and I love your fearless experimenting. Poor grapefruit. it is the sad sister of the citrus family. Lime, lemon, and orange get all the glory. Still, it goes nicely into a cocktail, so it has that going for it.
Every fruit pairs with some sort of booze, although grapefruit is especially lovely, isn’t it? Probably to make up for the fact that it is the red haired stepsister of the citrus family.
I have never ever tried to do anything with grapefruit other than cut them in half and spoon them out at breakfast. Now I’m definitely not trying! Not even the broiled-with-sugar thing that is retro. Thanks for taking one for the team 🙂