I make this cake so many ways – with herbs and spices, citrus juice and spirits, and various extracts and essences. I’ve never added fruit or nuts, because I prefer the crumb unadulterated, but I’ve started to wonder how peaches might fare. I bake it in layers, in bundts, in tiny little flower molds. It’s a house favourite, a backbone of my cooking-for-many repertoire. Why? Because it’s as simple as making pancakes, bakes up to have a moist interior and a crispy, golden exterior, and because it’s a blank slate for whatever floral notes or earthy spice I want to infuse it with that day. I’ve even subbed white wine that needed using for the citrus juice to good effect. Grand Marnier is good too. Maybe a nice Calvados and warm spices in winter. This cake is a hero with a thousand faces.






Skill level

Average: 5 (1 vote)


  • 375 g (3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1½ tsp flaky sea salt
  • 3 tsp herb de Provence
  • 385 g (2 cups) sugar
  • ½ cup fresh grapefruit juice (see Note)
  • 1½ tsp rosewater (concentrate)
  • 220 g (1 cup) good olive oil
  • 240 g (1 cup) buttermilk
  • 3 eggs, for glaze
  • 125 g (1 cup) powdered sugar, plus more to thicken if needed
  • 2 tbsp grapefruit juice
  • ⅛-¼ tsp rosewater, to taste

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


This recipe makes 3 small bundt cakes or 2 x 20 cm cake layers. 

Cooling time 10 minutes

Heat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Thoroughly grease your cake tin, most especially thoroughly if using a bundt pan.

In a mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, herb de Provence, and sugar. In a separate bowl whisk together the grapefruit juice, olive oil, buttermilk, rosewater and eggs. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently stir with a spoon to just combine, making sure to scrape the bottom. Do not overmix.

Pour the batter about ⅔ way up the sides of your cake tins or pan and bake for 30 minutes to an hour (depending on size of cakes). Cake should be a deep golden brown and a cake tester should come out clean when inserted. A few crumbs are fine; it just shouldn't be wet or goopy.

Allow cakes to cool in their tins about 10 minutes, and then turn out onto a cooking rack to cool completely before icing.

Meanwhile whisk together your glaze. In a bowl whisk the juice and rosewater into the powdered sugar. Add sugar if you need to thicken it to get it to a pourable but quite thick consistency. Alternately, you can thin it with additional juice or cream as needed. Spoon the glaze over your cake. And enjoy!



• Orange juice can be substituted for grapefruit.


Recipe from Local Milk by Beth Kirby, with photographs by Beth Kirby.