Disney Inspired Grapefruit Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Disney Inspired Grapefruit Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

A Hollywood Brown Derby (located at Disney World's Hollywood Studios) favorite, this luscious cake was on the menu at the original Hollywood, California, restaurant.
I recommend making this cake over 2 days (although you can certainly make it in 1). Spreading the work over 2 days makes cutting the cake easier and life in general less stressful. On day 1, you can make the grapefruit puree and the cake itself. On day 2, you'll make the frosting, then cut and decorate the cake. You don't have to aim for 4 layers (that's just showing off, but it does look awesome). If you're in a pinch, just cut the cake in half horizontally once and add icing between the two layers and on top. It's still delicious.
There is a great how-to video for this recipe that I include a link to in the notes. I also include a link to a Martha Stewart how-to cut perfect cake layers.


Grapefruit Puree

  • 3 fresh grapefruits you can also use 1 can (16 ounces) grapefruit sections (no added sugar) - reserve 3 tablespoons of the juice for the cake batter (see below) and drain the rest of the segments
  • cup simple syrup (see instructions below)

Cake Batter

  • cups sifted cake flour (you can make homemade cake flour - see instructions in the Notes section)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 tbsp grapefruit juice (juice ½ fresh grapefruit leftover from the puree or use juice from the can)
  • ½ tsp finely grated lemon zest (save the lemon for the frosting)
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Grapefruit puree

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 packages cream cheese (8 ounces each), softened (see instructions in the Notes section on how to soften cream cheese in a jiffy)
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest (use the partially zested lemon from the cake batter)
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 4-6 drops yellow food coloring (optional but it adds a little more dimension to the look of the frosting)


Simple Syrup

  • Take 1 cup white sugar and 1 cup water and combine them in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool (leftover syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 month).

Grapefruit Puree

  • Cut 2½ fresh grapefruits into sections (reserve remaining half to be juiced for cake batter). You should have about 2 cups of grapefruit segments.
  • Place grapefruit in blender and puree with ⅓ cup simple syrup until smooth.
  • Strain the grapefruit mixture through a fine-meshed strainer into a bowl, cover and place in the refrigerator.

Grapefruit Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9-inch by 2-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with waxed paper and lightly grease the bowl (to ensure the perfect fit, place the cake pan on a piece of wax paper and trace an outline of the bottom with a marker and then cut out the circle). I greased the pan with unsalted butter (don't forget to do the sides)
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, oil, water, grapefruit juice, and lemon zest until smooth. Whisk in the flour mixture.
  • Beat the egg whites and the cream of tartar in a stand mixer in a medium bowl until stiff peaks start to form. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture, until just blended. Pour into the prepared pan (the video link has a great example of this technique).
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake springs back when touched lightly in the center. Invert the cake, still in the pan, and cool on a wire rack (if the cake slides out of the pan, that's fine too - it didn't seem to make any difference when this happened to me). If making this recipe over 2 days, run a spatula or a table knife around the edge of the cake. Carefully remove the cake from the pan and place the cooled cake on a plate and store in the refrigerator overnight (this makes it easier to cut the layers).
  • With a serrated knife, remove the dome to make an even top. Then cut the cake horizontally into the desired number of layers (cut it in half once to have 2 layers or or cut it evenly twice for a 4 layer cake). There is a how-to video link in the notes below.
  • Spread the grapefruit puree onto the top of the bottom layer. Wait a few minutes to ensure the puree completely soaks into the cake. `Next, spread the Cream Cheese Frosting on top. Place the next layer on top of the frosting and repeat this step (if your cake will have 4 layers, repeat twice).
  • Frost the top and sides of the cake. Drizzle some of the puree on top (if you have leftover grapefruit sections, you can use these as garnish.)

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese at high speed until light and fluffy.
  • Add the lemon juice and the lemon zest. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar and beat until well blended (if you add all the sugar at once while the mixer is spinning, it will cause a sugar cloud to explode and make a mess of your kitchen). Add food coloring, if desired.


Step 1: Measure 2 cups all-purpose flour. Remove 4 Tablespoons.
Step 2: Measure 4 Tablespoons of cornstarch. Add to the flour. Cornstarch contains less gluten than flour, so it's a wonderful tenderizing ingredient to help make cake flour.
Step 3: Sift together SIX TIMES. Basically, sift into a mixing bowl once. Then run it through the sifter one more time into a separate bowl. Repeat this step three times. Sifting not only mixes the two ingredients together appropriately, it aerates the mixture so the consistency is similar to real cake flour.
Step 4: Measure 1 1/2 cups from this mixture. You'll have leftover cake flour that you can either keep for another recipe (or not).
Place each slab of unwrapped cream cheese into a Ziploc bag and submerge both bags in a bowl of hot water. Make sure the sealed edge of the bags are above above the waterline to ensure water down not get in and mix with the cheese. It typically takes anywhere between 5 to 10 minutes to soften. You can also microwave an unwrapped slab of cream cheese on a plate for 15 second intervals until the desired temperature is reached.

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