I’ve been dancing around doing this recipe for a long time… While I’m a big fan of cakes, I really don’t make them all that often. They always seem like a major commitment in time and I have this abnormal fear of messing them up.
Plus, I don’t have the patience to wait until they’re cooled all the way before frosting them. I know this all sounds utterly ridiculous, but it’s true.
But this cake… Something about this cake sounded so, so good. I know it has a huge, devoted following of people who swear this is the greatest cake at Disney.
And researching this cake was actually pretty fun. It’s been on the menu forever, and it’s gone through numerous updates and changes, so it was neat to see how it’s evolved over the years. I was pretty excited to give this recipe a try.
The downside to a cake that has such a long history is that it has numerous recipe variations (all of which are official), and a lot of them suffer from being scaled from Disney’s massive batches to a single batch for the home chef.
The recipe I used is the most recent available and it came out flawlessly in terms of taste, but unfortunately, in order to get 4 layers (like they serve now), it really needs to be doubled. The recipe as-is (and the way I’m sharing it), is only enough for two, maybe three very, very thin layers. While this is almost exactly like it used to be served, now it’s served with 4 layers.
I have to say, for somebody who doesn’t make cakes, I’m pretty proud of how this turned out. It’s so light, fluffy, and fresh tasting, really unlike any cake I’ve ever had. It’s spring on a fork. I did use pink grapefruit because, for some strange reason, I couldn’t find white anywhere… But I love, love, love the color contrast that the pink grapefruit gives, and I know it’s not unheard of for it to be served using pink grapefruit at the Brown Derby.
The cream cheese goes brilliantly with the airy cake and the sweet grapefruit, and it’s deliciously creamy, without being gooey. I’m not sure why, but I was so terrified this would fall apart when I sliced it, but it held together brilliantly. All the little elements of it just meshed together beautifully.
Had I to do over again, I’d probably keep the pink grapefruit, but I’d double the recipe (including frosting) and divide it evenly between two pans (or cook this recipe twice) so I’d be able to get those extra layers, and use way more grapefruit.
I was also reminded of how much I hate to frost cakes. I had way better luck frosting the inside and then frosting the sides and tops after I had my layers assembled. Not sure if this is the right way to do it, but hey… It’s what I did. And, for the record, I didn’t use the food coloring.
I can completely see why this dessert has stood the test of time and survived several updates to the Brown Derby menu. It’s exotic and clean-tasting, relatively easy to make (though it is time consuming), and it looks really dramatic when sliced and garnished with the pink grapefruit. This for sure is going into the recipe file I crack out when I want to impress people with my cooking awesomeness.
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Grapefruit Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting – The Hollywood Brown Derby
Grapefruit Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
As is served at The Hollywood Brown Derby, Hollywood Studios
- 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 tablespoons grapefruit juice
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 can (16 ounces) grapefruit sections, well drained, dried
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 6 drops yellow food coloring (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch cake pan or springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and lightly grease, if desired (not necessary with a springform pan). Set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks (reserve egg whites), oil, water, juice, and lemon zest until smooth. Combine into the flour mixture, stirring until just moistened.
In a third bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula or folding tool, fold stiff egg whites into batter until just blended. Pour into prepared pan. Tap down pan to help larger air bubbles to rise and ensure the mixture is evenly distributed.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in the center, or a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. If using a cake pan, invert cake over a wire rack to cool, leaving the cake in the pan.
When cooled, run a knife around the edge of the pan and carefully remove it from pan. If using a springform pan, run a knife around the edges of the cake, release the springform mold, and cool inverted on a wire rack.
Using a serrated knife or cake layer cutter, cut the cake horizontally into 2 layers, making sure both layers are even.
Prepare the cream cheese frosting by beating cream cheese until fluffy, adding lemon juice and zest, and gradually adding sugar until blended, as well as food coloring (if desired).
To frost the cake, spread cream cheese over the bottom half of the cake and top with 2/3 the grapefruit slices. Cover with second layer and frost the top and sides. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
Before serving, garnish the cake with remaining grapefruit segments, cut, and serve.