Olive Oil Cornmeal Cake with Grapefruit and Fennel | www.floatingkitchen.net

Olive Oil Cornmeal Cake with Grapefruit and Fennel

So…am I being a total jerk for posting a cake recipe during the second week of January?

If I am, you guys can totally tell me. Be honest.

Well…maybe not too honest. I don’t want my feelings to get hurt.

Olive Oil Cornmeal Cake with Grapefruit and Fennel | www.floatingkitchen.net

But here’s the thing: I like cake. I like baking it. I like sharing it with friends. And I like eating it. So I’m going to continue to do those things. Maybe with a little less frequency than I was doing in December. But I’m not going to abandon desserts altogether. Deprivation doesn’t jive well with me. Someone always ends up getting hurt in the end.

Olive Oil Cornmeal Cake with Grapefruit and Fennel | www.floatingkitchen.net

And this Olive Oil Cornmeal Cake with Grapefruit and Fennel is just barely crossing the threshold into the “dessert” category. The cake itself isn’t too terribly sweet. In fact, I’d say it’s definitely leaning more on the cornbread side of the equation than on the cake side of the equation. And if you skip the glaze, it would totally be acceptable to enjoy a slice (or two!) at breakfast or brunch. No one would judge you.

The fennel seeds were a last minute addition, spurred by the all mighty Google machine. When I was researching recipes, I found several sweet cornmeal cake recipes (usually Italian or Brazilian in origin) that used them. And that sounded like a pretty good idea to me. So I gave it a go. And holy moly, it might just be my favorite part of this recipe. So whatever you do, definitely don’t skip the fennel seeds!

Olive Oil Cornmeal Cake with Grapefruit and Fennel | www.floatingkitchen.net

I’m sharing this Olive Oil Cornmeal Cake with Grapefruit and Fennel as part of our monthly seasonal eating round-up organized by Becky from Vintage Mixer. At the start of each month, Becky posts a guide outlining which fruits and vegetables are currently at their peak, along with recipe suggestions for how to use them. You can find her January produce guide here. And then myself and a few other bloggers make new recipes to further highlight those ingredients. Check out the links below to see what everyone has created for the month of January. And follow along with the hashtag #eatseasonal on social media to see even more inspiring seasonal recipes!



Olive Oil Cornmeal Cake with Grapefruit and Fennel

Olive Oil Cornmeal Cake with Grapefruit and Fennel

At a Glance:
Yield: Makes one 8- or 9-inch cake
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes


For the Cake:

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated grapefruit zest

For the Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1 tsp. finely grated grapefruit zest


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Cut out a round of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of your cake pan. Coat the bottom and sides of your cake pan with a thin layer of olive oil. Then lay the parchment paper-round down in the bottom of the pan. Brush some olive oil on top of the parchment paper-round. Set your prepared pan aside.
  2. In the bowl of your mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the olive oil, eggs, sugar and grapefruit juice. Add the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt and mix until the flour is just incorporated. Whisk in the fennel seeds and grapefruit zest.
  3. Pour the cake batter into your prepared pan and smooth the surface. Transfer the pan to your pre-heated oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the top is golden. Remove the pan from the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Then run a knife around the edge of the cake to help separate it from the sides of the pan and invert the pan onto a plate. Remove and discard the parchment paper from the cake. Then carefully re-invert the cake back onto the wire rack to finish cooling.
  4. While the cake is cooling, combine all of the ingredients for the glaze in a small bowl until smooth.
  5. Pour the glaze over the cooled cake. Slice and serve.
  6. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days.


Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.

January Eat Seasonal Recipes

Healthy Tangerine Julius Smoothie by Letty’s Kitchen

Leek and Turnip Soup by Vintage Mixer

Apple Almond Bircher Meusli with Winter Fruits by Simple Bites

Saucy Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Curry and Mint by Healthy Seasonal Recipes

Garlic and Herb Spaghetti Squash Boats by She Likes Food

Peanut Butter Crusted Sweet Potato Fries by JoyFoodSunshine

Raw Brussels Sprouts Salad with Harissa Vinaigrette by Project Domestication

Winter Cauliflower Rice Bowl with Cranberry-Mustard Sauce by Cafe Johnsonia

Meyer Lemon Coconut Panna Cotta by Kitchen Confidante

Maple Orange Teriyaki Salmon Bowls by Flavor the Moments

32 comments on “Olive Oil Cornmeal Cake with Grapefruit and Fennel”

  1. There is never a bad time for cake, especially one as beautiful and delicious as this one! Loving the grapefruit/fennel flavours 🙂

  2. I’ve never thought to add fennel seeds, but I totally want to try now! Please never stop with the dessert, they are an essential part of living! xo

  3. Come January I eat less sweets, but I never totally eliminate them — a girl needs dessert every now and then! This cake sounds so worth the splurge too. I love the sound of the grapefruit and fennel seeds — I definitely need to try that!

  4. I’ll take cake ANY day of the year, especially when it’s one I would want to eat for breakfast! I love cakes that aren’t too sweet, and I LOVE grapefruit, so this is up my alley!

  5. Grapefruit is my favorite fruit of this season – it’s so tangy and juicy! I bet it’s delicious in this cake! 😀

    • This cake is maybe my new favorite. Which is really saying something because it’s not chocolate! I hope you try it out!

  6. You’re not a jerk at all! I’ve made two pans of muffins in the last week and have pretty much devoured them all, eek! I’ve never had an olive oil cake before but I love the flavor of olive oil so I’m pretty sure i would love this cake! I need to get my hands on some grapefruit because now you have me craving it 🙂

  7. I love a citrus cornmeal cake and it’s ben far too long since I baked anything similar. Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. I’m in on the cake in January! I feel like if you deprive yourself of something then when you finally do eat it you eat too much so all in moderation 🙂

  9. I am not mad at you. I had a cornmeal olive oil citrus cake years and years ago, and loved it. This brings back the memory of that. Love your addition of fennel and the glaze as well. So glad to be a part of this great seasonal group! Cheers!

  10. I love that you are on the #cakesquad!! Can we get together and make cakes together?! k. thanks!

  11. ALWAYS bring the cake, Liz! I’m not one of those people who diets or cuts complete food groups out of my life come the New Year, so THANK YOU for posting this! This cake looks all sorts of amazing, girlfriend! I’m seriously smitten over those fennel seeds! I’ll be doubling up on that glaze, because life deserves it. 😉 Can’t wait to give this a try! Cheers!
    P.s. Cake is a food group if you ask me.

  12. Hooray for cake! I’m with ya! No deprivation as that leads to bad habits… It’s all about moderation. #teamcake I’m intrigued by the fennel, and have just started trying new ways of preparing and enjoying it. In cake? I’ll take it! It’s been too long since I made a cornmeal cake. I absolutely love it’s texture! Thank you for sharing Liz and inspiring me to try something I probably wouldn’t have otherwise!

  13. Everything in moderation, including moderation. It’s not like this is chocolate decadence! I’d even say this cake is healthful–olive oil, grapefruit, cornmeal–how can you lose? Far from being a jerk. Thank You for posting this cake for all to try!

  14. Don’t you just love it when you give new things a try and they work so well?! This looks beautiful!

  15. I am totally continuing to bake cakes forever eva eva, so no hard feelings here! Love that this is so citrusy!

  16. The flavor combination sounds amazing, Liz! Desserts are welcome all days of the year! 😉

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