a true spring break, and a recipe: ruby red grapefruit pound cake

It took a good 36 hours, but eventually, the stress of the past weeks (months) abated and I felt the anxiety lift from my shoulders. I made a conscious effort to disconnect from life back home, to simply be present in the moment, with my husband and my children. And it took effort, initially, as thoughts of my father and work deadlines and obligations clouded my mind like an oppressive, grey fog.

Eventually, it became easier.

bowmans beach, sanibel island

We woke early in the mornings, eating our breakfast on the patio of our east-facing one-bedroom villa. Each morning, we watched the sun slowly emerge from the horizon and rise over the mangroves and over the grey-blue water of Pine Island Sound. We lounged about, reading the New York Times or watching the mangroves for signs of life, until mid-morning, when we donned swimsuits and slathered on sunscreen.

The days were spent at the pool or at the beach or wandering the marina, watching the manatees and dolphins and ogling the yachts. Though the temperatures dropped into the chilly lower-60s, the kids took advantage of the heated pool and the hot tub, while Sam and I claimed lounge chairs and sprawled in the sun’s warmth. I read and I occasionally thought about napping, but I never did. I didn’t want to miss anything.

seashells, sanibel island

We wandered the beaches and the rocky inlets, searching for the seashells to take home. Sam hunted for the elusive unbroken (and unlived in) conch shells. Oliver picked up smooth pieces of chalky sand dollars and any shells that resembled a pattern – this one that looked like a giraffe, that one that looked like a leopard’s hide. Madeline searched for shiny shells, or big shells, or cute little curvy shells. I preferred the pink-hued scallops, so perfectly symmetrical and delicate. It was a treasure hunt, and we became hooked.

We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Pringles by the pool. We ate pepperoni pizza and licked scoops of mint chocolate chip or cookie dough ice cream at the local pizza slash ice cream parlor. The grown ups drank fruity cocktails by the pool, garnished with pineapple triangles and orange wedges and bright red maraschino cherries. We shared a slice of coconut cake from the Bubble Room as a mid-morning snack.


I didn’t call my mom to check on my father one single time. (I felt guilty for this, later.)

For those several days at Captiva, I allowed myself to give in to the crashing of the waves on the beach, the rustling of the ocean breezes through the palms and mangroves, the screeches of the nesting ospreys defending their young, the laughter and squeals of the children in the pool. I became absorbed in the blue water of the Gulf of Mexico and in the pinks and whites and yellows of the seashells beneath my feet. For those days at Captiva, I was fully engrossed in my family.

It was perfect.


Leaving was hard, and we dragged out our last day as long as possible. This spring break had been a real one for me, a true intermission from our lives back home.

On the almost-5-hour drive home from Captiva, we stopped at a citrus stand off the interstate. My husband adores grapefruit, and the yellow mesh bags of Ruby Reds called to him from their bin. He listened.

ruby red grapefruit pound cake

Pound cake was on my mind that final weekend, and I knew I wanted to incorporate those beautiful grapefruits. Pound cake is always comforting, easy, and no frills. The simplicity of the dessert matched the tone of my week at the beach — flip-flops, t-shirt, wet hair, no make-up. Easy and relaxing. And the touch of Ruby Red grapefruit in the pound cake and in the glaze was the pineapple slice in the fruity cocktail.

ruby red grapefruit pound cake

Ruby Red Grapefruit Pound Cake with Grapefruit Glaze

Ruby Reds are the sweetest of the grapefruit, and their flavor is subtle here. Don't have grapefruit on hand? Feel free to substitute orange or lemon.


For the Pound Cake:

1 cup (7 ounces; 200 grams) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons Ruby Red grapefruit zest
2-1/4 cups (9 ounces; 215 grams) cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces; 227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 large eggs, room temperature
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed Ruby Red grapefruit juice

For the Glaze:

1 cup (4 ounces; 120 grams) confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons Ruby Red grapefruit juice


Prepare Pound Cake:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and place oven rack in center position. Butter a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and place it on a cookie sheet.

In a small food processor, to make the grapefruit sugar, process the sugar and grapefruit zest until well incorporated; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and grapefruit sugar on high speed for 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1-2 minutes after each egg is added. Add in the grapefruit juice and mix until blended. Reduce mixer speed to low and add in the flour, mixing just until incorporated. In order not to overmix the batter, you may wish to fold in the last of the flour. Spread batter evenly into the prepared loaf pan. Bake the cake (on the cookie sheet) for 70-75 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If the cake is browning faster than you’d like, cover the cake gently with a piece of foil.

Let cake cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then turn cake out onto the rack to cool completely. Serve plain or with grapefruit glaze.

To make ahead: Cover the cake in plastic wrap and store at room temperature overnight.

Prepare the Grapefruit Glaze:

Whisk together the sugar and grapefruit juice. Pour glaze over cooled pound cake. Slice and serve.

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10 Responses to “a true spring break, and a recipe: ruby red grapefruit pound cake”

  1. 1
    Kathryn — April 8, 2013 @ 4:57 am

    A lovely cake and I’m so glad that you had the chance to unwind and disconnect from life for a few days.

  2. 2
    Di — April 8, 2013 @ 8:34 am

    What a perfect place to unwind. Captiva is one of my favorite Florida resort towns. Hope re-entry is not too difficult for you.

  3. 3
    Nutmeg Nanny — April 9, 2013 @ 12:08 am

    These are wonderful photos, it looks like the perfect getaway 🙂 the cake looks lovely!

  4. 4
    Nisrine — April 9, 2013 @ 9:08 am

    What a gorgeous cake and beautiful glaze. Glad you enjoyed your spring break.

  5. 5
    Brian @ A Thought For Food — April 9, 2013 @ 9:49 am

    I’m not sure how I’d do on a true vacation… I think it’d take at least 48 hours to get into the swing of things. Sounds like you had a wonderful time… you really deserved some time off.

    I’m in love with this grapefruit cake. I enjoy grapefruit in all fashions, but rarely do you see it in baked goods.

  6. 6
    Dina — April 9, 2013 @ 3:23 pm

    i love grapefruit but have never tried baking with it. it sounds refreshing!

  7. 7

    The true vacation. I need one of those. Glad you got yours and this cake is the perfect way to ease back into “real life”. Hugs xo

  8. 8
    Lauren @ Dallas Duo Bakes — April 10, 2013 @ 9:41 pm

    Sometimes we just all need to get away. Especially with the constant pressures and technology that follows us around this day and age. Glad you could relieve a little stress. A grapefruit pound cake sounds so refreshing! I’m definitely going to bookmark this one!

  9. 9

    I am glad you had some time off 🙂 I am a big fan of ruby red but never baked with it. lovely pound cake- it looks like it will melt in your mouth

  10. 10
    Aggie — April 11, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

    I’m so glad you were able to get away MJ, especially to such a truly serene piece of paradise. Your kids smiles make me happy…and so does this pound cake. I love grapefruit and pound cake, your combo is just perfect. xoxo

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