Sleepless in Nottingham

Its 4 a.m. in the morning. There’s a grapefruit and lemon cake in the oven. And I still haven’t been able to sleep in spite of all the fluffiness I’m surrounded with, in the form of pillows and an extra large duvet.

Sometimes you have turn away from chocolate. Its excruciating not to reach into the bottom shelf of my refrigerator, flick away a bundle off rosemary, squeeze through the beer bottles, push that old withered cabbage to its side and grab a neatly packed slab of chocolate. So, instead I reached for a grapefruit. I had bought a handful of them a couple of days ago and they have been sitting pretty on the top shelf since I found out that they’re way too tart to dig into, early in the morning for breakfast.

I came very close to broiling them after reading about Ottolenghi’s version. It seemed like the only other appropriate thing to do to a grapefruit. And besides, a tart grapefruit against a mysterious star anise sounded like something I could curl up in bed with. After a slew of options that included macarons (yeah right), plain juice and cupcakes, my tummy finally settled softly on cake. I honestly thought I was on a hiatus from cake after a gorgeously rich chocolate-orange cake, of which I had feasted on just one measly slice….
What? Don’t look at me like that, I have hungry house-mates.

I spent the next 5 minutes watching a very young-looking flat-haired Nigella Lawson make a clementine cake in which she boiled the clementines till soft and podgy before blitzing it with eggs, flour and sugar. No shortening…which is always a plus when you’re trying to get rid of a few wobbly bits here and there (and a big bit smack in the middle).

My current cake tin can hardly be called that. Don’t get me wrong. It is a cake tin. A very odd one. It is the size of a well-built tart, the height of a deep-dish pizza and it simply does not hold enough batter. At least not the amount produced by a proper recipe that almost always will call for a 9″ cake tin. So I laboriously halved Nigella Lawson’s recipe, added a few twists and threw in a lemon for good measure, popped it in the oven and trudged sleepily to my room back to the second half of Moonstruck.

Coconuts and a buttery chocolate icing counter the intense acidity of the cake. In a very good way. In a party-in-your-mouth way. Now the addition of coconut was not pre-meditated, neither was the chocolate butter-cream, but it was one of those bake-with-whatever-you’ve-got-in-the-pantry moments.

Grapefruit and Lemon Cake
(Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Clementine Cake and heavily modified)


1 grapefruit

1 lemon

125gm sugar

140gm self-raising flour

3 eggs

1/2 cup dessicated coconut + extra for sprinkling over icing

Pre-heat oven to 180 C. Grease a 6″ diameter cake tin. Boil the grapefruit and lemon for 2 hours. Cool. Delicately squeeze out extra water and blitz together in a processor. Add sugar, flour, eggs and coconut and mix together. Pour in baking tin and bake for about 30 minutes. I usually start checking the centre of the cake after about the 25 minute-mark. Cool the cake and turn out on a plate/stand. The recipe doubles easily for all your normal cake tins.

Chocolate butter-cream


50gm unsalted butter

50gm sugar

80gm dark chocolate

100ml double cream

Melt chocolate on a double-boiler or in a microwave. Leave to cool. Cream butter with sugar in a stand-mixer or with electric mixers or if you’re looking for a quick workout, with your hands. add chocolate and cream and whip till fully incorporated with a workable texture. Sprinkle toasted coconut shreds on top of cake after icing with butter-cream.

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  1. Hello! Thats a very interesting combination. Tart, chocolate cake with (my favorite) coconut, yum!

  2. Wow. It looks absolutely delicious! Grapefruit. Who’d a’ thunk it?

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