Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Discover all the ways you can make a difference.
Support Icon
The Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams are here to help.

The Brown Derby's Grapefruit Cake Recipe

Support Provided By
Photos by Ryan Kellman
Photos by Ryan Kellman

The grapefruit cake is one of those unlikely recipes that only needs one bite to sell a person on it completely. You really can taste the grapefruit in it, making it almost, strangely enough, refreshing. But never fear, it's also as sweet as you'd want a cake to be.

The cake, which seemed to disappear from Los Angeles culinary culture for a few decades, was a beloved dessert at the legendary Brown Derby, Hollywood comfort food hotspot we wrote about here.


Fresh or canned (and well drained) fruit both work here, so it's an anytime recipe even for a locavore. We're making this cake for Mother's Day, along with the Brown Derby Cobb salad.


Grapefruit Cake
1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, separated
3 tbsps grapefruit juice
1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Grapefruit Cream Cheese Frosting
2 - 6oz packages cream cheese
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon rind
3/4 cup powdered sugar
6 to 8 drops yellow food coloring (optional)
1 -1 lb can grapefruit sections, or fresh grapefruit in segments

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in mixing bowl.

Make a well in center of dry ingredients. Add water, oil, egg yolks, grapefruit juice and lemon rind. Beat until very smooth.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar separately until whites are stiff but not dry.

Gradually poor egg yolk mixture over whites, folding gently with a rubber spatula until just blended. Do not stir mixture. Pour into an ungreased pan.

Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly touched with finger.

Invert pan on cake rack until cool. Run spatula around edge of cake. Carefully remove from pan. With serrated knife, gently cut layer in half.

Let cream cheese soften at room temperature. Beat cheese until fluffy. Add lemon juice and rind.

Gradually blend in sugar. Beat until well-blended. Add coloring.

Crush several grapefruit sections to measure 2 teaspoons. Blend into frosting.

Spread frosting on top of bottom half of cake. Tap with several grapefruit sections. Cover with second layer. Frost top and sides, and garnish with remaining grapefruit pieces.


Special thanks to Kevin Van.

Support Provided By
Read More
Mizuki Shin, a middle-aged woman of Asian descent, is wearing a vertical-striped black and white apron and a red bandana on her head. She's learning against a glass pastry case displaying rows of pastries and other baked goods.

Roji Bakery’s Tender Milk Bread is a Slice of Japan in L.A.

Roji Bakery has served the Mid-Wilshire neighborhood for the past 20 years, serving up warm, fluffy Japanese shokupan (milk bread) and other baked goods. Owner Mizuki Shin talks about the yudane technique that makes milk loaf unique and reminisces on her memories eating shokupan as a child in Japan.
Jennie Fou Lee is wearing a pink tie-dye hoodie and a white apron as she holds out a tray of doughnuts from a glass case. There are two kinds of doughnuts on the tray — a line of Oreo/cookies and cream doughnuts and a doughnut topped with Fruity Pebbles.

DK's Donuts Capture Sweet Memories in Golden, Fluffy Donuts

In this video, Jennie Fou Lee of DK's Donuts talks about how their family-run store has become a community staple and how their doughnuts hold memories for the community they serve.
A sepia-toned photo of Duke Kahanamoku surfing a wave while Viola Hartman stands on his shoulders. The two have their arms outstretched as they ride the wave.

Duke Kahanamoku and the Origins of Surfing in Orange County

If we were to trace back to a single place and time where California surf culture began, it was likely Corona del Mar in the 1920s. And the person who gave birth to it was Duke Kahanamoku — fittingly known as the "father of modern surfing."