I’ve been enchanted with the Brown Derby ever since I was 16 and went to visit a friend of mine in Anaheim, California. We were old enough to drive, so with her father’s permission to use the family car, we toured the Los Angeles area and hit all the in-spots of the day. One was the Brown Derby. The only thing I remember about the experience, aside from dining in a posh, elegant and hat-shaped restaurant, was that a group of salesmen were having a lunchtime meeting at a table next to us. “You know,” said one, “soap is merely a catalyst to get the dirt off your skin.”
It’s funny what sticks in our minds. That was it for me. I think I had a Cobb Salad for my entrée, and I don’t remember if Natalie and I even ordered dessert. But had we considered it, the Brown Derby would have offered this famous cake on their menu. I can see why they created it. I bet it was for the “ladies who lunch” so that they would not feel guilty indulging in a sweet. After all, grapefruit played a part in so many diets of the day, that it couldn’t possibly add any pounds to your hips as it passed through your lips.
When making this cake I made two changes. Canned grapefruit, which is called for in the original recipe, is a big no-no in my kitchen. So, I segmented a fresh one. I also find that most cakes taste so much better with a bit of liqueur sprinkled on the layers. In this case, I chose Grand Marnier. Now, revised and updated, I present to you the New Pink Grapefruit Celebration Cake.
1 ¼ – 1 ½ sifted cake flour (the smaller quantity for unbleached all-purpose flour)
¾ cup superfine sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup water
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, separated
3 Tablespoons grapefruit juice
½ teaspoon grated lemon rind
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl.
Make an indentation in the dry ingredients. Add water, oil, yolks, grapefruit juice and lemon rind. Beat until smooth.
In a large mixing bowl beat the whites and cream of tartar until the whites are stiff but not dry. Slowly, pour the yolk mixture over the whites and fold in with a spatula until just blended. Do not stir or that will deflate the whites.
Pour the batter into an ungreased 9-inch pan, or into two or three 9-inch pans. Bake the single layer for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. If baking the multiple layers, adjust the baking time accordingly. The cake or layers are done when it springs back to the touch.
Invert the pan(s) on a rack and cool. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and carefully remove from the pan(s). If you have baked the single layer, gently cut it in half with a serrated knife.
12 ounces cream cheese
3 teaspoons lemon juice
1-2 teaspoons lemon rind
1 cup powdered sugar
1 large pink or ruby red grapefruit, peeled and sectioned, skins removed
½ cup Grand Marnier
Soften the cream cheese and then beat until fluffy. Add the lemon juice, rind, and continue beating, gradually adding the sugar. Crush several grapefruit sections to measure 2 teaspoons. Blend into frosting.
Place your first layer on a cake plate and sprinkle with half the Grand Marnier. Top with some frosting and repeat this with the additional layer(s). Frost the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with the remaining grapefruit sections. Serves 10.
Set aside a half-cup of the frosting and tint it pink. Pipe that around the outside of the cake for a more festive look.