Let me spell this out unambiguously: I don’t like grapefruit. It’s too sour, too bitter, too…grapefruit-y. I do love its fragrance, however, the scent of a freshly cut grapefruit (that someone else is going to eat.) I also like grapefruit-flavored sweet things, like the citrus-flavored gumdrops from Trader Joe’s and Joia brand Grapefruit, Chamomile and Cardamom soda.
It seemed a shame to let my husband enjoy all the grapefruit in the refrigerator just because he’s the one who likes it. There had to be something I could make that I would like too. Inspired by the flavors in the soda I mentioned above, I made muffins scented with grapefruit zest and juice and gently flavored with warm spices. I had my concerns that this would work out well, but in the end I was thrilled. The muffins were delicious. Really delicious!
I say they were “scented” with grapefruit juice and zest because the grapefruit flavor of these muffins is not particularly pronounced and definitely not overwhelming. It is merely suggested, a floral fragrance enhanced nicely by the warm spices that accompany it. I used a ruby red grapefruit, which would be a bit sweeter and milder in flavor than other varieties. It’s juice, which I mixed with milk to make a mock buttermilk (like I did to make these waffles), was such a pretty color, I regretted that I don’t really enjoy the taste of that either, at least not straight.
The spice blend I used might seem a bit exotic, but I really liked it. For me, with the exception of star anise, these are spices I have left over after fall and Christmas baking. (I’m not sure why I always seem to have star anise.) I used whole spices that I ground with a coffee grinder designated for that purpose, and I highly recommend getting into that practice if at all possible. The spices are more fragrant and flavorful that way, and the whole spices last a lot longer in the cupboard. I don’t suppose you would need to use this particular quartet, and it would be silly to go out and buy spices just to cover the small requirement for this recipe. As I often say: use what you like and what you happen to have.
I never really got around to taking good photos of these muffins. Just take my word for it that they looked like good muffins, golden brown and muffin-shaped. Their fragrance and flavor along with their gently sweetened soft texture are really more important anyway. Besides, looks aren’t everything. A halved ruby red grapefruit is beautiful on a sunny winter morning, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s practically inedible. I’ll stick with the muffins.
Grapefruit Scented Muffins with Warm SpicesI highly recommend zesting the grapefruit before juicing it. It's much easier that way. I like to use a Microplane grater.
1 cup milk½ cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground star anise (from about 2 lobes of the “star”)
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
zest of 1 medium grapefruit (I used ruby red)
¼ cup canola oil
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a measuring cup, combine the milk and grapefruit juice. Set aside for a few minutes to create a “sour milk” while preparing the next steps.
2. In a medium size bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, salt, sugar, cloves, star anise, cardamom, and cinnamon. Whisk together or sift to blend well. Stir in the grapefruit zest being sure to distribute it evenly. (It tends to clump together.) Set aside.
3. In another medium-size bowl, beat together the oil and egg until smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract. Stir in the milk and juice mixture. Beat well to combine.
4. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and stir gently until the dry ingredients are just moistened. (It’s even fine to leave a few lumps.)
5. Spray the cups of a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray (or grease them however you like.) Evenly distribute the batter among the 12 cups. Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes or until a pick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached (no wet batter.)
6. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool about 5 minutes more. Enjoy warm.
Makes 12 muffins.