So apparently this is just basil and grapefruit week over here. Well, in fairness it's because I had leftover grapefruit and basil simple syrup from the Basil Rathbourbon and I didn't want that to go to waste. We were already having a few friends over earlier this week and I'd promised to have a dessert on hand, so that seemed like a promising potential vehicle for my leftovers.
I thought at first of doing our family recipe for a Grapefruit Chiffon Cake, but I'd just used that as a template for Aaron's earl grey birthday cake and I was in the mood for a cake with a bit more density. So after some brainstorming and indecision, I landed on adapting another family classic - our lemon pound cake - into a vanilla pound cake, bringing the grapefruit in as a curd between the three layers, and integrating the basil simple syrup into the whipped cream instead of sugar.
Friends. This was a good choice.
The curd mellows out the grapefruit flavor a bit, so it is more of a sweet citrus than the tart punch I'd expected. But I actually don't mind that with this cake combination. The pound cake holds up well to it and the basil cream cuts through with that wonderful almost licorice-y herbal note to keep the whole thing quite fresh.
I apologize for not getting a picture with a slice cut out. I couldn't quite bring myself to chop it up before the guests arrived. I know it doesn't really matter if I serve a cake with a slice taken out, but my pride wouldn't let me this time around. I promise I'll steel my nerves up enough to do that one of these times so I actually have a full set of cake photos on one of these posts. Just... not this time.
vanilla pound cake with grapefruit curd & basil cream
yield: 1 3-layer 6" cake
½ cup butter
1⅓ cups sugar
1½ cups flour
¼ tsp salt
⅛ tsp baking powder
½ cup Greek yogurt
½ tsp vanilla extract
Zest of one grapefruit
¼ cup sugar
4 TB butter
⅓ cup grapefruit juice
Pinch of salt
½ cup heavy cream
5 tsp basil simple syrup (see the Basil Rathbourbon recipe for instructions)
For the Cake
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease three 6" cake pans and dust with flour.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the sugar and softened butter until the mixture is very light.
Add eggs one at a time., beating well after each addition.
Add the Greek yogurt to the butter mixture alternately with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Add vanilla extract and combine.
Pour batter into greased and floured tube pan.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
Cool on rack 5 minutes, then turn out of the pans and finish cooling.
For the Grapefruit Curd
Add the grapefruit zest and sugar to a food processor (this miniature version is perfect) and pulse until the zest has combined thoroughly with the sugar.
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and beat in the sugar and zest mixture.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Finally, add the grapefruit juice and salt and mix until thoroughly combined.
Pour the mixture into a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the curd thickens. This should take approximately 10 minutes or so.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and cool, then pour into an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Basil Cream
In a medium mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment) beat the cream and simple syrup until the cream just holds its shape. You can whip it into stiff peaks if you prefer, but I like the more drapey texture.
Level each layer of cake with a serrated knife.
Place the first layer on the serving plate, top with half the grapefruit curd, and spread it evenly. Be sure not to allow the curd too close to the edges unless you want to have a bit ooze down the side for appearance.
Top with the second cake layer and repeat with the remaining grapefruit curd.
Add the top layer of the cake and then spoon the basil cream on top, gently easing it outwards to cover the top of the cake. If desired, you can allow a bit to drape down the sides, but I opted to keep the sides clear so the grapefruit curd could do the draping for this cake.
Top with a basil sprig or a wedge of grapefruit.