Aoife Noonan: This could be your new favourite cake

This light-as-air grapefruit poppy seed loaf is fluffy and zesty, with a punch of sourness

I adore citrus. The addition of any citrus fruit brightens up nearly every type of savoury dish, and the same goes for baking and desserts. While we are used to picking up lemons and limes all year round, citrus are best in season now, that is late winter, coming into spring. Think Seville oranges, clementines, blood oranges and, the most underrated citrus of them all – in my opinion – the grapefruit.

These sharp and sour fruits can make your tastebuds squirm but are so refreshingly light and cleansing in flavour. I opt for the pink and red varieties over the white or yellow ones, I find they are a little sweeter and the blush-pink flesh is so enticing.

Grapefruit adds a gorgeous freshness to desserts, and I use it in place of orange and lemon quite regularly. Paired with something creamy, such as mascarpone, and sweetened with a little honey or served with white chocolate, it is perfect.

This week’s recipe could be your new favourite teacake. It sees the classic lemon drizzle revamped into a grapefruit poppy seed loaf. Soft, buttery sponge that has been lightened with egg whites transforms a madeira-type sponge cake into a light-as-air loaf that melts in the mouth. Instead of popping the eggs in whole as you would a classic sponge, I separate the eggs, incorporating air into each, then fold them in separately. The result is an airy sponge that tastes like you’re eating a soft cloud.


This loaf is fluffy and zesty, with a real punch of sourness from the grapefruit, but balanced in sweetness. I add poppy seeds for a slight crunch, and they look beautiful dispersed through the loaf when you cut into it, but feel free to leave them out if you don’t have any to hand.

A lemon drizzle is nothing without the drizzle, and while this cake is gorgeous without, the icing sugar and grapefruit juice mix adds sweetness and tartness and completes it perfectly. The colour of the soft powder-puff pink icing had me sold really.

This teacake keeps particularly well and will stay moist for up to three days if stored in an airtight container. It freezes perfectly too, and can be frozen whole or in slices for a perfect teatime treat.

Recipe: Grapefruit poppy seed loaf