Champagne and Grapefruit Layer Cake

A sight to behold, Champagne and Grapefruit Layer Cake dazzles with bright citrus. Airy cake flavored with orange extract is brushed after baking with sparkling wine. Ribbons of ruby red grapefruit curd add pleasant tang, while swirls of grapefruit buttercream provide a velvety counterpoint. Smooth white fondant, including accents gilded with luster dust, offers the coup de grâce to this festive dessert.

Champagne and Grapefruit Layer Cake
Makes 1 (8-inch) cake or 24 cupcakes
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon orange extract
  • 3½ cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk
  • 8 large egg whites
  • ¾ cup Champagne
  • Grapefruit Buttercream (recipe follows)
  • Ruby Red Grapefruit Curd (recipe follows)
  • 1 pound white fondant*
  • ¼ teaspoon vodka
  • Gold luster dust
  • Piping gel
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray 3 (8-inch) round light-colored cake pans with baking spray with flour.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add vanilla extract and orange extract, and beat until combined.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating at low speed just until combined after each addition.
  4. In a large bowl, beat egg whites using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment at high speed until stiff peaks form; gently fold egg whites into batter in thirds. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  5. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Invert from pans onto wire racks, and let cool completely. While still slightly warm, brush each layer with ¼ cup Champagne.
  6. Spoon Grapefruit Buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a round decorating tip, and pipe a ring around inside edge on bottom cake layer. Fill center with ½ to ¾ cup Ruby Red Grapefruit Curd. Repeat with remaining cake layers and stack on cake circle or plate. Spread a smooth layer of buttercream on top and sides of cake. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  7. Knead fondant until smooth and pliable. Dust work surface with confectioners’ sugar. Roll out fondant into a 14-inch circle. Roll up onto rolling pin and unroll over cake. Smooth top and sides of cake, working outward from center. Trim excess fondant to bottom edge of cake. Brush off any excess confectioners’ sugar.
  8. Roll out additional fondant. Using round cutters in graduated sizes from ½ to 1½ inches in diameter, cut concentric rings. Cut each ring in half.
  9. In a small bowl, stir vodka with enough gold luster dust to form a thin paint. Brush onto rings and let dry. Place gold rings on cake in a decorative pattern, using a small amount of piping gel to adhere.
*We used Satin Ice Rolled Fondant.

Grapefruit Buttercream
Makes 3 cups
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ tablespoon grapefruit zest
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  1. In a large bowl, beat butter, zest, and salt with a mixer at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating to combine. Add cream by tablespoonfuls until frosting is creamy and easy to spread.

Ruby Red Grapefruit Curd
Makes approximately 2 cups
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ruby red grapefruit zest
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup fresh ruby red grapefruit juice
  • ¼ cup water
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • ½ teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 to 8 drops red food coloring (optional)*
  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar and zest. Whisk in cornstarch and salt. Add juice and ¼ cup water, whisking until smooth. Heat over medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Whisk in egg yolks and gelatin. Increase heat to medium-high; cook, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a boil and thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and food coloring.
  2. Strain mixture through fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface of curd. Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate until chilled.
*We used Watkins Food Coloring, which contains no artificial dyes.

Find more spectacular recipes for your New Year celebration in the January/February 2020 issue, available on newsstands and at

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