As the title suggests, we're all over the spring cocktails. I must say this is the most fun research I've done because obviously I had to try out a few different recipes and taste them ALL.
This recipe is inspired by a lovely floral twist on the traditional Greyhound cocktail, which consists mainly of grapefruit juice and vodka or gin. There are loads of recipes out there for this, all with their own fun flare, and I really wanted to bring this "overly extra" element to what could otherwise be a simple but delicious cake to make.
That being said, there is some extra prep at the beginning that adds time to the recipe. Having my reliably impatient personality, I understand how annoying it is to find a recipe you want to make IMMEDIATELY and then find that you can't. If you're like me, you can always opt out of the first few steps. It will just result in a traditional Greyhound flavoured cake and without the decoration - equally fabby.
So let's get to it.
Ingredients - Sponge
200g Granulated sugar
1 Sprig Rosemary
220ml Vegan Milk (I used Oat Milk)
75ml Vegetable Oil
200g Caster Sugar
250g Plain Flour
1/2 TBSP Baking Powder
1 Pinch of Salt
Red Food Colouring (Optional)
Ingredients - Frosting
25ml Gin or Vodka
300g Icing Sugar
50g Vegan Spread
2 tbsp Grapefruit Juice
A few Sprigs of rosemary to decorate
A few grapefruit slices to decorate
Method - Prep
Tip: You can skip any of these steps if you're after a speedy cake recipe! All you'll have to do is juice the grapefruits before you make the sponge, or opt for store-bought juice to save time.
1. Fresh Squeeze
Cut the grapefruits in half and squeeze as much juice out of them as humanly possible. Set aside for later. I usually opt for an airtight container in the fridge.
2. Candied Grapefruit
Next we need to make the garnish for the top of the cake. Scoop out any of the remaining flesh in the grapefruit peel and cut the remainders into thin strips. Put the peel into a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Then, drain out the water, recover with fresh water and simmer for another 30 minutes.
3. Drain and sugar
Drain the peel from the water, reserving the cooking water, and set aside the peel. Add 100g sugar to every 100ml water you have, I used 200g. Gently heat the sugar and water in the pan until dissolved. Add the peel back in the sugar mixture and gently simmer until it is translucent. Remove from the heat and leave to cool in the syrup.
4. Turn up the heat
Remove the cooled peels with a slotted spoon or spaghetti ladle and place evenly on a papered baking tray. Cook on the lowest temperature setting in your oven to dry them out.
Tip: If you have one, laying the peels over a wire rack gives a better drying technique.
5. Sweet like [candied grapefruit]
Finally, remove the peel from the oven and toss lightly over a sprinkle of sugar. Leave to air-dry for at least and hour. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
Tip: The best thing about these candied peels is, not only are they a beautiful and completely edible garnish for your cakes, but they will keep for 6-8 weeks in the correct storage, meaning if you make a whole batch you can always remake this cake again with ease the next time.
6. Last bit of prep - I promise!
Take about 120ml of the vegan milk for the sponge and add in a sprig of rosemary to a jar or air-tight storage container. Give it a good shake and store in the fridge overnight to let the flavours of the rosemary infuse into the milk.
Tip: You may also want to add some floral notes to your frosting. If you do, add in an extra 25ml of milk here to use later when making it!
Method - Sponge
1. Turn up the Heat
Preheat the oven to 170C. Line your chosen tin with a little vegan spread or oil and greaseproof paper.
2. Back to Basics
Most of our recipes have the same base vegan sponge method, with the necessary added flare that makes each one unique, so if you've been reading our blog until now you'll be well versed. Take the remaining milk and add the grapefruit juice squeezed earlier. Here, we're using the grapefruit instead of the usual lemon to curdle the milk - the acidity still gives the same reaction, but provides a different flavour in the end product.
3. You know this by now!
Next, pop the caster sugar and vegetable oil into a bowl and mix - I used a standing electric mixer (because I'm lazy) on a low speed - until incorporated. You can also use melted coconut oil or vegan spread for this, TREX vegetable fat is a great alternative.
4. Those beautiful sandy beaches, again...
Continue to combine the rest of your dry ingredients - flour, baking powder and salt, until the mixture resembles the beautiful white sand of beaches a absolutely cannot afford to visit. Be sure to scrape the sides and re-mix a few times to ensure everything is incorporated nicely. Add in a little grapefruit zest here if you want the grapefruit flavour to come through strongly, but this is optional.
5. Milk it
Give the prepared vegan buttermilk a quick whisk - or shake if you stored it in a jar. Start adding slowly allowing the two mixtures to incorporate properly. Be sure to scrape the sides again, and make sure there isn't any dry mixture stuck at the bottom of the bowl - most food mixers leave a little island hiding in the bottom of the batter. Once fully incorporated, beat the mixture, or turn the mixer to a medium-high setting for 30 seconds - 1 minute. This will introduce air and make the cake fluffier, be careful not to over beat as this will cause the cake to sink.
6. Now for the weird bit
By now the mixture should be slightly gloopier than a regular cake mixture. Strain the rosemary from the milk prepared earlier and gently fold it into the mixture. Find any way you feel comfortable with this. In tests, I've used coffee filters and loose-weave fabric, but I've found that a regular sieve does the job just fine. If you want to add a little blush to the sponge, you can pop in a couple drops of red food colouring here also!
7. Get Baked...
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tin and place in the centre of the oven for 45-55 minutes. You'll know it's ready to go when the sponge bounces back, and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Method - Frosting
1. Rinse and repeat
Pop on a whisk attachment on the electric mixer and combine the vegan spread, grapefruit juice, gin and icing sugar on a low-medium speed until well incorporated. Then turn up to high until the mixture is light and fluffy.
2. 'I'm not even sure what slathering is, but I definitely wanna be a part of it.'
Cover the top of your cooled cake with the frosting by making 'S' shapes with the spatula down the length of the cake - or do whatever you want it's your cake.
3. Give 'em the old razzle dazzle
This the the fun bit. Arrange the candied grapefruit curls and a few sprigs of rosemary on the cake. Some fresh slices of grapefruit are also lovely to add if you're serving immediately. And voila!