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  • Writer's pictureDiana Scalia

Angel Food: Fresh Grapefruit Cake, and Leap Day

 Later this year, I intend to publish my second cookbook, which is titled Angel Food 2nd Edition: Love Made Visible on the Plate. Until then, I’ll be sharing some recipes – with excerpts of their love stories - for La Vie en Magenta. I hope you enjoy my Angel Food series!


Yesterday was Leap Day 2024. I gave myself the day off ;), got lots of rest, ate really delicious food, burned a gorgeous scented candle. Most importantly, I did a Leap Day meditation ritual that has been my practice, for years now.


Leap Day is one of my favorite days on the calendar, even though it only exists every four years. I positively love my idea that it’s about extra time and extra chances. If one does it right, it yields extra grace.


In 2012 I was the Spanish Bar Chef by night. Still relatively new at this post, I was struggling, and frustrated with my lack of experience.  Leap Day was a Monday that year – my day off – and I opted to take full advantage of this extra time that seemed like a gigantic gift, just for me.


With lit candles, favorite music, and the purest of intention, I spent a good part of that day connecting with Spirit, asking for guidance and support to make my restaurant my own. I pictured my Bar full of happy, fabulous, perfect customers, and myself truly in my element. I wanted to create a place that felt like an extension of my home, where loved ones flocked, and returned to over and again.


By mid-March, that was exactly what happened. By mid-2012 , my Bar was one of the highest-rated places in the neighborhood. Blessings went on and on. I gave my Leap Day practice – and the divine guidance that followed - full and complete credit for that.


Fast forward to Leap Day, 2020. I invited my best girls to celebrate and jump-start our lives in the new year. I hosted a full-day retreat at my home, with yummy breakfast, meditations and rituals, and Cake ... stay with me ....


Cake, noun. Evidence that we live in a kind and benevolent Universe. Proof that there is a Divine Presence that loves us.


I was divinely guided to do something fun and unusual that day, with a story that is incredibly meaningful to me. Charlie Mackesy’s gorgeous book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse is one of my most precious life possessions. His very, very loveable little character, Mole, shares my passion for Cake.


At that Leap Day 2020 home retreat - a few months after my Mama had passed, by the way - I served my very special Fresh Grapefruit Cake, and read Charlie’s book to my guests. I believe that our little meditation – sharing this beautiful story, cake, and some tears - was healing beyond measure, for each one of us.


The rest of that year – 2020 – unfolded not quite as we’d expected and, in fact for me, the blessings went on and on. It was when my precious little Renata first became an integral part of my life. For me, Life has just kept loving me more and more, on Leap Day and all days.


My Fresh Grapefruit Cake is an incredibly delicious star in my upcoming cookbook. I hope you’ll try it, and come to experience Cake as that direct conduit to the Divine.

In this Leap Year, may the blessings in your own life go on and on.


Fresh Grapefruit Cake


Prepare an 8-inch round cake pan by rubbing sides and bottom with soft butter. Dust with granulated sugar to coat sides of pan (it’s OK if the bottom gets some too). Cut an 8-inch round piece of parchment paper and place securely in bottom of pan. Preheat oven to 350F.


½ cup Greek-style (whole milk) plain yogurt

3 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

Freshly grated zest of 2 large grapefruits (reserve whole zested grapefruit for juicing later)


1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

½ cup almond meal (may substitute flour for almond meal)


½ cup oil (may use a light/light-colored olive oil, vegetable/sunflower oil)

¼ tsp Fiori di Sicilia  (optional)


Whisk yogurt and eggs together in large mixing bowl.

In medium bowl, place sugar and fresh zest. With clean hands, massage the zest into the sugar with your fingers; this is one of the real tricks to this recipe! Have fun with this, and when combined well, scrape your fingers with a rubber spatula into the bowl to yield as much citrus-sugar as possible into the recipe. (When you rinse your hands, notice the wonderful aroma left on your fingers!) Blend citrus-sugar with yogurt and eggs.


Sift flour, baking powder, salt in medium bowl. Stir in almond meal, and add to yogurt mixture. Finally add oil (and Fiori di Sicilia if using) and whisk well to combine, as adding the oil makes the mixture tend to separate. Do not overmix, the mix is ready once all ingredients are well blended.


Gently pour batter into prepared pan, and bake for 30-35 minutes, until cake is spring-y to the touch and tests done. Check after 30 minutes and test (insert toothpick, must come out clean). Add more time in 2-minute intervals, testing for clean-toothpick result; do not overbake!


While cake is baking, prepare glaze:

1/3 cup fresh grapefruit juice (squeeze fresh juice from reserved zested grapefruits)

¾ cup powdered sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Whisk juice and sugar with vanilla to render a smooth glaze.


When cake is baked, cool in pan on wire rack for up to 30 minutes. Generously coat the bottom of a serving plate (or a sizeable, nice shallow container to store cake) with about ½ of the glaze. Gently turn the cake out of the pan, handling very gently to turn it upside down onto the plate with glaze. Peel away the parchment paper and with pastry brush, paint the top of the cake with glaze, allowing the glaze to coat the sides of the cake as well. You do not need to use all of the glaze, just be relatively generous in coating the bottom and top of cake, this is key to the flavor of the cake.


Allow to sit for at least 11 minutes ;) before serving, if possible.


Sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve.


Yields about 8 servings.





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