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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12 Responses to “triple citrus bars – lemons and limes and oranges, oh my!”

  1. 1
    Dawn@CocinaSavant — June 11, 2010 @ 7:45 am

    this looks heavenly. i may have to go to the store and try to make these right now!

  2. 2
    Heather @ The Single Dish — June 11, 2010 @ 11:08 am

    So pretty and they look delicious! Lemon bars are so light (well maybe not on the waistline) and refreshing!

  3. 3
    Jason Phelps — June 11, 2010 @ 12:01 pm

    My wife makes a triple citrus cheescake that makes magic with the same flavors. So good! Awesome photos.


  4. 4
    Cook with Madin — June 11, 2010 @ 12:45 pm

    These looks sooooo good. I have to make these. I like citrusey flavours. Thank you for sharing.

  5. 5
    the Housewife — June 11, 2010 @ 1:03 pm

    These look so very heavenly! I love lemon bars and one with triple citrus… mmmm! Great picture!

  6. 6
    Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle — June 11, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

    Like you…love the lemon bars. I’ve been making the same ones for, well, FOREVER! I have a cookbook from the St Louis Art Museum called ‘The Artist in the Kitchen’ with a copyright of 1977 so am not kidding. I’ve not wavered from them until the day I had no lemons and made some lime bars and have thought to try orange too…so of course this combo of all three of those citrus flavors sounds intriguing and yummalicious.

    Have you ever had the lemon bars from Nordstrom Cafe? My daughter and I ordered them one day and was surprised but oh so pleasantly. Made with toasted coconut and a layer of mascarpone cheese frosting…I’ll have to make sure you have that recipe to try one day; love that Nordstrom’s so generously will share their recipes (even if it makes a sheetpan size but who’s counting; they still disappear!).

  7. 7
    Chef Dennis — June 11, 2010 @ 4:00 pm

    OMG…..you take my breath away!!!! what a decadent display of citrus love…….sigh
    that graham crust was enough to push me over the edge….

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  8. 8
    Magic of Spice — June 11, 2010 @ 7:00 pm

    Fantastic to use this combination…looks wonderful!

  9. 9
    Jean — June 11, 2010 @ 9:46 pm

    There are so many recipes that I want to try in my Cook’s Illustrated books–this is one of them. I’m glad to see your post so I know what to expect. I like your addition of coconut in the crust.


  10. 10

    These look and sound so good!

  11. 11

    These are right up my alley! I will have to try them asap!

  12. 12
    Megan — April 4, 2011 @ 10:15 am

    I love a good citrus bar no matter what juice you use. I like the addition of the coconut to the crust too.

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