Lemon and Grapefruit Buttermilk Cake

This Lemon and Grapefruit Buttermilk Cake is one of the absolute best-tasting cakes I’ve made.  It’s infused with lemon zest and the juices of both grapefruit and lemon.  A grapefruit glaze is poured over the top of the cake after it’s baked which gives the cake an incredibly moist crumb. To further enhance the bold citrus flavor, a lemon icing is drizzled over the top.

Lemon Grapefruit Buttermilk Cake | ZagLeft

Developing a recipe is kind of a funny thing.  I’m sure most food bloggers and recipe developers go through pretty much the same methods of creating and writing about recipes.  My process for recipe testing may appear unorganized, but it’s really quite the opposite.  For someone looking in, I would imagine that I can be quite a sight in the kitchen.

I’m blessed to have a very large kitchen with a countertop that is super-long.  When I’m working on a new recipe, I tend to take up the entire length of the counter with bowls, ingredients and my recipe notebook.

As I work through developing a recipe, I constantly write down all the tiny details I notice about the recipe as well as ingredient amounts.  Most days, I am pretty organized, even though I know I don’t look like it.  On other days, I feel as if I’m truly experimenting and don’t have a clear idea whether or not a recipe will turn out at all.

This Lemon and Grapefruit Buttermilk Cake is one of my successful kitchen surprises and I love those.  When recipes turn out way better than I ever expect them to, I’m thrilled and I can’t wait to share them here.

Lemon Grapefruit Cake | ZagLeft

Lemon desserts are my oldest daughter’s favorite kind of dessert.  When she came home for a visit last month, I thought it was the perfect time to experiment with the citrus infused cake I’d been thinking about for months.  As I went through the baking process, I jotted down notes about this cake and the ingredients as I always do.   The aroma of the lemon and grapefruit was so vibrant, I really did hope this cake would turn out well.

When I pulled the cake out of the oven the color was gorgeous.  It had a beautiful crust that was tinted with a hint of orange, but the real test would be in the taste.

As it turned out, this cake was actually so much better than I imagined it would be.  It was delicious and moist and perfect for any springtime gathering.  Although grapefruit is typically tangy, there’s an underlying sweetness to the grapefruit which intensifies in baked goods, so adding it to this recipe was a very good call.

I made this Lemon and Grapefruit Cake a few days later following my notes as I went along.  The cake tasted just as good as the first time.  I went on to make two additional cakes for two separate events and both times the cakes were a success.

I guess you could say this Lemon and Grapefruit Cake has been tested, retested and tested again and it’s just about perfect.

Lemon Grapefruit Buttermilk Cake | ZagLeft

There are so may things I love about this cake…

First off, it’s pretty.  No matter what kind of pan you use, the pretty golden crust with the shiny glaze and citrus infused white cream is lovely.

It’s also ultra moist.  It isn’t dry or dense at all.  The cake also has a wonderful lemony flavor that everyone seems to love.

After the cake bakes and is cooling, I prepare a glaze made with sugar and grapefruit.  I dissolve the sugar in the juice over a medium heat.  When the sugar is dissolved, I pour it over the top of the cake.

lemon Grapefruit Buttermilk Cake | ZagLeft

As the glaze soaks into the cake, I prepare a lemony icing to drizzle over the top.

Lemon and Grapefruit Buttermilk Cake | ZagLeft

Lemon and Grapefruit Buttermilk Cake | ZagLeft

I adore this pretty cake.  It’s everything a citrus cake should be…pretty, bright, buttery and incredibly moist.

Lemon Grapefruit Cake | ZagLeft
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Lemon and Grapefruit Bundt Cake

Lemon and Grapefruit Buttermilk Cake, infused with lemon zest and the juices of both grapefruit and lemon, topped with a citrus glaze and lemony icing.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time55 mins
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Dessert
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Joanie Zisk


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 16 tablespoons butter , softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons grapefruit juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup buttermilk


  • 1/3 cup grapefruit juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Spray the inside of a bundt pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  • Whisk, flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • Combine sugar, lemon zest and butter together in a large bowl.
  • Add in the eggs, one at at time, beating after each addition and scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  • Add in the vanilla and the juices and continue mixing for about 30 seconds longer.
  • Reduce mixing speed to low and add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in two additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.
  • Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Place the pan on a cooling rack and cool, about 30 minutes.
  • Carefully invert the cake onto rack; remove pan and let cake cool completely.
  • While the cake is cooling, prepare the glaze.
  • Combine 1/3 cup of grapefruit juice with 1/3 cup sugar in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Spoon the grapefruit syrup over the cake.
  • Whisk together the powdered sugar and the lemon juice until smooth. (If the icing seems too dry, add a little more lemon juice. It the icing appears to watery, add a tiny bit more powdered sugar until the desired consistency is achieved).
  • Drizzle icing over the top of the cake.
  • Serve.

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36 thoughts on “Lemon and Grapefruit Buttermilk Cake”

  1. 5 stars
    What a gorgeous cake!! I love that you used grapefruit juice in it – yum! I’m the same way with recipe development! My kitchen is always a crazy mess but somehow in my head, it’s all organized, lol!

  2. oh YUM! I’m not a big grapefruit person, but I love lemon and this looks delicious so I’ll have to give it a shot!

  3. Wish I was there for all the testing and retesting! 😀 I’m also crazy about citrus desserts and this beautiful cake would definitely feed my obsession!

  4. Sometimes I feel like poor grapefruit gets the short shrift; it doesn’t show up near enough in recipes compared to it’s cousins lemon and lime. And I love it…so I will remember this, I’ve got a pink one in the fridge now that needs to be used soon so now I’m thinking cake!

  5. I probably would have wanted to try this even if you hadn’t perfected it so perfectly…just the thought of tangy buttermilk and bright citrus makes me hungry. Plus, it’s beautiful!

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