Vintage Recipes: Grapefruit Coconut Cake




I’m writing this intro from cold and windy Chicago, lusting after this cake that takes tender and bright to all new levels. Grapefruit and coconut combine to offer a rich tang. Thanks for sharing a special vintage recipe, Michelle! – Maggie

When I saw this recipe in my grandmother’s vintage recipe book it initially caught my eye because of the citrus and coconut flavor pairing.  We are smack in the middle of citrus season so I knew that I wanted to take this recipe and make it over.  The original recipe called for orange coconut boxed cake mix, canned pineapple and a few other ingredients.  I ultimately decided on grapefruit for the citrus – I have fond memories of eating grapefruits in Florida as a child while visiting my stepdad’s parents. It was such a fun treat to sprinkle sugar over the top and use the spoon with the special serrated top to pull the pith from the skin.


Making the cake from scratch allows multiple ways to work these flavors directly in to the cake.  I started by juicing and zesting a grapefruit.  Some of the juice gets added to the batter and the zest is worked in to the sugar to impart a strong citrus flavor. I used coconut oil in the cake since it has become my favorite oil to bake with lately and I knew it would lend a delicate coconut flavor to the cake.  If you don’t have coconut oil on hand you can easily substitute with vegetable oil.  Coconut oil is the easiest to work with when it is melted and most of the other ingredients you are using are at room temperature. I typically microwave the oil or let it sit on the stove top while the oven preheats and then measure out what I need.


The cake is then topped with a coconut and grapefruit mixture that has been broiled for about five minutes.  The cake soaks up the juices from the mixture and the grapefruit segments add a nice tangy citrus kick.  I would suggest playing around with the topping to find out how sweet or tart you would like yours. This cake, to me, is reminiscent of sunny & warm days which will hopefully be upon us soon.


Grapefruit Coconut Cake with Broiled Topping


For the Cake
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • zest from one grapefruit, about 1 tablespoon
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
For the Broiled Topping
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup grapefruit scrapped out of the squeezed fruit and cut in to 1 inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar


  1. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. Mix the sugar and zest together, working them together with the back of a spoon.
  3. Beat eggs and grapefruit sugar together until thick. Add yogurt, oil, grapefruit juice and maple syrup. Stir to combine.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  5. Grease a 10 inch bundt pan and pour the batter in. (my batter was pretty thick so I used a spatula to help distribute it evenly in the pan)
  6. Bake at 350 degrees 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  7. To make the topping, simply combine the three ingredients, place in the oven and broil for about five minutes. Make sure to keep a close eye on it since the coconut can burn quickly.
  8. Once the cake is inverted, pierce it several times with a toothpick. Spoon the broiled topping over the cake, letting the cake absorb the juices. Dust with powdered sugar if you'd like.
Photos styled and taken by Michelle Martin.

Eat Boutique was an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista – an author, business guide and alignment seeker. After hosting retail markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie now supports entrepreneurs as they create values-based businesses through We Are Magic StudioFollow Maggie Battista on Instagram.