Social Distancing Kitchen: How to make Disney's Grapefruit Cake

March 23, 2020, 10:25 PM · Next up on Social Distancing Kitchen is a fan-favorite dessert from The Brown Derby at Disney's Hollywood Studios — Grapefruit Cake.

We are bringing theme park magic to your home while the parks are closed with the classic version of this dessert, with a recipe based on the official from the Delicious Disney cookbook.


For sponge cake:
1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, divided
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
3 Tablespoons grapefruit juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

For cream cheese frosting:
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup powderer sugar, sifted

1 cup grapefruit jam... or 1 grapefruit, peeled, sectioned, seeded and pureed (if you can't get the jam)


Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9-inch cake pan, lining it at the bottom with parchment.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.

Whisk the egg yolks, oil, water, juice, and 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest in a large bowl until smooth. Then whisk in the flour mixture.

Whip egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Then fold the egg whites into the yolk batter until incorporated.

Pour the combined batter into the cake pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until done.

Once baked, cool the cake on a wire rack until cool enough to touch, then turn out of the pan to finish cooling completely.

For the frosting, beat the cream cheese in an electric mixer until fluffy, then add the lemon juice and remaining zest. Then add the sugar and continue beating until well blended and fluffy.

Once the cake is cooled, use a knife to cut the cake into four equal, horizontal slices for stacking. Layer one slice of cake, drizzle with grapefruit puree and top with frosting, repeating until the final layer of cake is placed. The finished frosting with the remaining cream cheese frosting and top with the remaining puree.

Okay, some notes here. First, because of the shortages of food that many of us are experiencing in our groceries now, I am shooting these videos without rehearsal or a test bake — I don't want to waste food that someone could be eating. But if I were to make this cake again, I would do a few things differently than I did in the video.

First, I would just use a cake knife to cut the layers instead of using the wire cutter that I used in the video. (I'm pretty sure that I could have gotten more even results with the knife.) Next, I would use a thicker grapefruit jam instead of the puree I used in an effort to add more grapefruit flavor to each layer.

The Delicious Disney recipe calls for drained canned grapefruit inside the cake, but its description for assembling the cake does not match the photo that illustrates the recipe. While this is an older recipe that does not reflect the sponge-cake-and-cheesecake version that I am told the Brown Derby now serves, I wanted something that looked like the cake as I remembered it, so I went with the puree to add that extra grapefruit taste (and coloring) under each frosting layer. But the puree just didn't hold up the way a jam would, so I would recommend using that instead.

(If you can't buy a grapefruit jam, I would make one using fresh grapefruit and sugar. Peel and separate a large grapefruit, removing all pith, seeds and membrane, then cook it on the stovetop with 1/2 cup of granulated sugar until boiling. The jam should set at 220F. Cool completely then refrigerate until you are ready to bake the cake.)

This cake is best when refrigerated before cutting and serving.

Also on Theme Park Insider's Social Distancing Kitchen:

Replies (6)

March 23, 2020 at 10:38 PM

By the way, I am taking requests for theme park dishes (from any park) to make on the show, so please let me know what you'd like to see next!

March 23, 2020 at 11:22 PM

Thanks for another great recipe! I posted this on the last one, but if you are able to attempt the Sauteed Shrimp and Scallops, I'd love to see how that is made! It's my favorite dish at the Be Our Guest restaurant. I realize that may be a harder/more expensive dish that may also not be in that cook-book, but I thought I'd give it a shot anyway!

If not, it may be good to post a few options from the Disney Cookbook and let some readers vote on it. I'm just not sure which items would be in there or not. I also trust your good judgment if that is too much work!

March 23, 2020 at 11:55 PM

This might be considered a deep cut, but Artists’ Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge used to (maybe they still do) make a very savory cioppino with head-on shrimp. The broth was delectable, with a nice balance of fresh ocean brine complimented by just enough acidity from the tomato. Alas, I’ve read that Artists’ Point is now a character dining experience so I don’t know if they still serve dishes such as this.

March 24, 2020 at 3:02 PM

Looks delicious, Robert! Really enjoying this series, thank you!

March 24, 2020 at 3:21 PM

You're welcome! And I am thrilled to report that Silver Dollar City just emailed me a couple of recipes to cook for the show!

Anyone got a six-foot, cast-iron skillet I could borrow? ;^)

March 25, 2020 at 10:07 AM

Thanks, Robert. I'm finding this series very entertaining and in the current circumstances I can use all the entertainment I can get. This particular recipe doesn't work for me because I take medication which interacts adversely with grapefruit but it's nevertheless fun to watch you put it together.

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