Sour cream pound cake with ruby red grapefruit

Sour cream pound cake with ruby red grapefruit | Homesick Texan

Christmas Day, you could find my family and me driving along Highway 6 so we could have dinner with cousins in College Station. The view was wonderful, filled with rolling pastures, barbecue joints, and barns painted to reflect either the owner’s love of the Texas state flag or their preference for Aggie football.

We kept stopping so I could take photos of all the Texana, until at last my uncle said, “Hey, can we get there already? I’m hungry!” Of course, he was correct to insist we keep moving, as our potluck dinner comprised of Tex-Mex, Southern and Cajun dishes promised to be a feast.

“I bet there will also be a ton of incredible desserts,” said my mom. And when we walked into the kitchen, her prediction proved true, as the first thing you saw was the buffet lined with cookies, pies and a gorgeous, round cake standing proud and tall. “Is that a pound cake?” I asked my cousin Susan. She replied that indeed it was, adding, “Pound cake is so Southern. The secret to this one is it has sour cream.”

Sour cream pound cake with ruby red grapefruit | Homesick Texan

Pound cake—it’s such a simple thing, but I couldn’t remember the last time I’d eaten one, nor could I remember the last time I’d even baked one. When we were leaving that evening, I grabbed an extra slice for my plane ride back to New York the next day. But I accidentally left my slice of pound cake in Texas, and have been missing it ever since.

Now, while I also think of pound cakes as being Southern, according to the Food Timeline, its origins have been traced back to 18th century England, with its name coming from the measurements of the original recipe’s ingredients—a pound of flour, a pound of sugar, a pound of butter and a pound of eggs. If you make a pound cake this way, it will be very rich and dense; most modern recipes call for different ratios, and add a bit of flavor, liquid, and a leavening ingredient, too.

Even though pound cake comes from England, this doesn’t mean it doesn’t have deep Southern and Texan roots. For instance, Texan writer J. Frank Dobie in his book Tales of Old-Time Texas shares a story about a Texan settler who eats fried chicken with slices of pound cake that he calls “yaller bread.” (Which, when I think about it, doesn’t sound like a bad combination.)

Sour cream pound cake with ruby red grapefruit | Homesick Texan

My family’s been making pound cake for a long time, too, and to reflect this history we have a host of different recipes. There’s one that calls for the classic sugar, butter, flour and eggs combination. There’s also one made with buttermilk, and one recipe inexplicably called German pound cake that uses the very un-German ingredient, Crisco. As I leafed through my files, I thought these all sounded promising, but after much digging I finally discovered what I sought—our family’s recipe for sour-cream pound cake.

Our Christmas cake had orange juice and zest added to it for flavor, but I saw organic Texas ruby red grapefruits at the grocery store (a rare occurrence in New York City), and decided to flavor mine with their sweet and tangy juice instead. It wasn’t until I completed the cake that I realized that I was supposed to mix the yolks and egg whites into the batter separately, but I don’t think the cake suffered for this oversight. Nope, this ruby red grapefruit pound cake had a slightly crisp, sweet crust that yielded to a moist and rich center, lightly brightened with the flavor of our state fruit. I sprinkled mine with powdered sugar, but this pound cake is so luscious, it could definitely be served unadorned.

Sour cream pound cake with ruby red grapefruit | Homesick Texan

Between being with my family and all the terrific food, I’d have to say that our Christmas dinner was just about perfect. The only thing missing was my grandma, who had decided to stay at the farm. Since she couldn’t join us on Christmas and enjoy a slice of cake, I’ve decided to dedicate this to her. See, it’s her 85th birthday this week and everyone knows you can’t have a birthday without cake. So happy birthday Grandma, I hope you enjoy your pound cake!

And should you decide to make it, I hope you enjoy it, too!

Sour cream pound cake with ruby red grapefruit | Homesick Texan
5 from 1 vote

Sour cream pound cake with ruby red grapefruit

Servings 16
Author Lisa Fain


  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks, room temperature)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ruby red grapefruit zest
  • 1/4 cup ruby red grapefruit juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 cup 8 ounces sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Powdered sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Grease and lightly flour a 12-cup tube pan.

  2. Using a stand mixer, cream the butter until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar, and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the grapefruit zest, grapefruit juice, and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.

  3. Add the eggs to the batter, one at time, mixing each one until it’s well incorporated. Slowly pour in the sifted flour and mix until the batter is smooth and fluffy. Stir together the sour cream, salt, and baking soda, and then add to the batter, mixing until well incorporated. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for an hour and 30 minutes, or until an inserted knife pulls out clean.

  4. Cool the cake for 15 minutes and then invert onto a platter. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm.

Recipe Notes

This recipe can be divided in half and baked in a loaf pan. You can also flavor this with lemon, orange, or lime juice, using the same amounts. For a bit of crunch, you can add to the batter 1/2 cup chopped pecans or 1/4 cup poppy seeds.

  1. I made a pound cake just recently, and it was a little on the dry side. I can't wait for an excuse to try this one. The grapefruit glaze is a fresh (in more ways than one) twist.

    Best wishes to your grandmother on her 85th birthday! Just yesterday I made her oatmeal bread (to chase away the Januaries; or Februaries, in this case) and I got such a good scald on it. (My grandmother used to say that.) Please tell her it's one of our family favorites here in damp old England. xx

  2. This sounds so delicious, can't wait to try it. I really love the dark crust on pound cake and I also love eating it toasted with butter for breakfast.

  3. Oh, yum! I'm 5 months pregnant now, and my craving for grapefruit (Texan Ruby Reds, to be exact) has been almost insatiable. I will definitely make this soon with some of my mountainous stash of Ruby Reds (all thanks to a very understanding soon-to-be grandmother living in Texas).

  4. How much juice does the typical grapefruit yield?

  5. Gorgeous!

    I made a pound cake with Texas grapefruit too! 'tis the season 🙂

  6. Anonymous

    Hi Lisa,
    I came across your blog several weeks ago looking for a recipe for horchata and find myself returning since. Grapefruit and sour cream are two of my favorite things so I thought I ought to say Hello this time.
    The Grand Central Baking Book by P.Davis also has a good recipe for sour cream cake. Just remembered it and thought I'd mention.

  7. Holy cow! I'm going to make this tomorrow.

  8. that sounds so delicious! and refreshing! thanks for sharing the recipe.

  9. I've been looking for ways to use up the box of Ruby Reds that I found here in NJ. We've been just broiling with brown sugar. This sounds like a winner!

  10. I always use the sour cream pound cake, and it never disappoints. Not a grapefruit – or any citrus – fan, so I use 3 flavors of extract, and put a powdered sugar glaze, also with the 3 extracts, to dress it up. Great recipe, loved seeing it! I'm homesick too, up here in NJ, but love your blog, and can always find comfort in those awesome southern recipes!

  11. Well. Just last night I decided to make a pineapple pound cake today, although the grapefruit does sound interesting. To be perfectly honest I'm not much of a 'grapefruit lover' but I'll be darned if pound cake can't make almost anything taste good!
    I'll be going to College Station this weekend. I'll wave to your cousins!

  12. Buttermilk pound cake is my very favorite pound cake, but this one looks just as yummy. I love the way a good buttermilk pound cake forms that wonderful crust on top. Sprinkle a little sugar on it before baking and you have an amazing crust. I hadn't thought of grapefruit, but I'll try it. I convert all my cakes to gluten free and pound cakes convert beautifully.

    Happy Birthday to your Grandmother!

  13. Celeste

    I need to take something to a gathering next week; this might be just the thing.

    I've always been told that pound cake bakes up better if you do NOT preheat the oven, so that's how I've always done it. You still bake it until it's done, but something about the slower rise of temperature is supposed to improve the texture and make it just a little more tender.

    I love Texas red grapefruit and think this will be just the thing for what ails me about February!

  14. This sounds absolutely wonderful! I love citrus desserts, especially in winter when I need something to brighten the cold days in Boston.

    I do have a question though. I don't have a tube pan, but I do have a bundt pan. Do you think they would be interchangeable? Would it change the cooking times? I haven't baked with either type of pan before, so I don't know much about them. Thanks!

  15. My husband is a Texan and tends to reach for a slice of pound cake when it is within reach. We are far from Texas these days but I understand now why he loves it so.

  16. Waah!

    We don't have grapefruit around because my mother is on medication and can't eat it, and we don't want to eat it in front of her.

    Yes, I end up binging on it when she's not home. I once ate three meals of it in one day, which tasted awesome but, FYI, was not a good idea from a gastrointestinal perspective.

    I need to try this next time she's out of town. (I think I'll also try making a grapefruit compote dressing for plain cake, no?)

  17. I've been eating lots of ruby reds but haven't actually cooked or baked anything with this year. This makes me want to get baking before the season is over!

  18. haven't read all the comments so if you have previously answered please excuse. possible to do this with splenda?

  19. that sounds divine! ANd that photo of the grapefruit makes my mouth water!

    I made your brisket for the tacos and something went wrong. There was hardly any broth left. I think it must be my pot, which is oven proof glass. Should the broth increase or decrease while cooking? Thanks.

  20. Bee–I'll be sure and tell her you how much you enjoy her oatmeal bread!

    Molly–I love the dark crust, too, especially when it gets that sugary crunch!

    Kallee–Congrats! And how sweet that your mom sends you grapefruit!

    Janus–I'd say about 1/2 a cup.

    DessertForTwo–Tis the season, indeed!

    Dani–I'll have to check that out. Thanks!

    Annie–Hope you enjoy it!

    Life is Good–You're very welcome!

    Miss Meat and Potatoes–Gracias!

    Amysue–I'm a big fan of broiling them with brown sugar, too. One thing I did last year was juice some of mine and then froze the juice. It really hit the spot in the summer.

    Lu–Pound cake can indeed make anything taste good!

    Kenna–This has that similar crust, which I love. And I'll have to try sprinkling sugar next time, what a great idea!

    Celeste–I'd never heard that before, but will do that next time and see what happens.

    Paige–I agree–citrus is my favorite thing about winter. And you can absolutely use a bundt pan.

    Michelle–I know how he feels–it's hard to resist a slice of pound cake!

    Lisa is Cooking–Better hurry before it gets too hot in Texas!

    Jerrie Lee–I don't know anything about baking with Splenda, but I reckon you could!

    Yardwork–Some briskets don't release as much liquid as others so I'd just increase the broth while cooking.

  21. Jeannine

    I have a Butter Pound Cake recipe much as you described. Wonderful. So, funny thing happened this Christmas when I made them as my gifts. One of the persons I gifted with the pound cake told me she had to throw it away because it "wasn't done." Explain, I asked. Well in short, because it used real butter, there are lines through the cake where the butter is more dense and appears a different color. Never having a homemade pound cake, she didn't know any different, so tossed it. I laughed. I adore grapefruit so will try your recipe.

  22. My husband always thought I was crazy when I told him I loved the drive down 6. LOVE the pastures! He finally saw what I was talking about two years after we moved from Aggieland-then he agreed.

    I must love pound cake as well, b/c I noticed I make alot of them! This looks great.

  23. I struggled with pound cake for a long time. It took me a while to get the process down so my cake would come out fluffy and delicious and not grainy and oily. Taking the time to thoroughly mix everything makes the biggest difference. If the recipe says mix it 5 minutes, then do it! I love grapefruit anything, and happy birthday to your gramdma!!

  24. If you ever get down to the Rio Grande Valley, Ferrell's Pit Barbecue in Mission, Texas, has incredible ruby red grapefruit pie. It's done fresh in a glaze, like their strawberry pie (also fantastic), and it is definitely worth the drive. The enchiladas, burgers, and ribs are fantastic, too. But it is the pie with real, homemade whipped cream that makes me miss home.

  25. Love Texas, Texans, pound cake and ruby reds. What's not to like. Except the last ruby grapefruit I bought was on the sour side. Undaunted, I will make sure they are from Texas next time and try this cake. Thanks!

  26. Jeannine–Oh, no! I can't believe your friend threw out the cake! And that is a fun shirt. Used to love driving by Mrs. Baird's on Central Expressway when I was a kid.

    Melissa–I'm so happy he changed his mind! That part of Texas is so gorgeous.

    Kelly–Indeed! I reckon the cake needs all that air to be smooth and soft.

    Ina Pickle–I'm actually headed to part of the Valley next week, so if I'm in Ferrell I'll grab a slice of pie!

    JennyP–Yes, I've had some from other places and they're not nearly as good as the ones grown in Texas.

    German–That's a wonderful breakfast, though I've never tried it with cardamom seeds. I'll have to do that next time!

  27. Though I'm an exiled Texas writer, I remember that drive, and looking at that photograph, I'm reminded of what a mysterious difference it can make to a dessert to snow down on it a little powdered sugar, or drizzle a little chocolate or raspberry sauce….

    It's the eye that makes us hungry.

  28. I have a wonderful cream cheese pound cake recipe that's always requested… the more you beat it the lighter it seems to turn out… and being a homegrown Bryan-College Station resident, I love reading your column!

  29. I love it the recipie, Where they are inseason I have for breakfast. Slice in half, sprinke with sugar and grill until caramelised.
    Or crush a few seeds from a cardamom pot, mix with caster sugar and sprinkle over a halved grapefruit.

  30. being a southerner, I do love some pound cake. my gramma used to make one every sunday and we'd take half of it home with us every single week. the addition of grapefruit zest/juice sounds lovely, and perfect for winter :).

  31. I love lemon sour cream pound cake so I will definitely have to give this a try.

    signed, another CS native.

  32. An answer for JERRIE LEE about SPLENDA —
    Baking with Splenda works fine–just buy the Splenda which is "Sugar Blend" (says so on front of the bag), which is a mixture of Splenda and real sugar. Also, there is a conversion chart on the back of the Splenda bag to tell you exactly how to do it, i.e., 1/2 cup of Splenda Sugar Blend = 1 cup of sugar. Good luck!

  33. Texas grapefruit–now I'm a desperately homesick Texan!! Love the idea of using it in the cake. My all time favorite poundcake recipe is a chocolate poundcake…I think I'm going to do some baking this week! 🙂 ~K

  34. I just made this today and it is going to be added to my 'favorites' for sure! The texture and crumb is wonderful and it certainly does have the sweet, slightly caramelized crust. If anything at all, I might add a tad more zest, but it was a light, delicate taste and no mistaking the grapefruit. Thanks for sharing!

  35. Love your blog, your stories, and your recipes. This is definitely a pound cake recipe to try. It's great to know you have family in CS. My family is here in Bryan after I came to A&M more than 20 years ago. Maybe we could do a blog gathering at one of the local BBQ joints when you're in town.

  36. Shelley–It is indeed!

    Elaine–Yep, I've learned that the beating is definitely the secret to a light cake.

    Heather–Citrus is my favorite thing about winter!

    Elizabeth–Hope you enjoy it! So many of y'all are from College Station–I love it!

    Mytwocentsworth–Thanks for the information!

    Revisedexpectations–I wouldn't say no to a slice of chocolate pound cake!

    Deb–Hurrah! I'm so pleased y'all liked it. And yes, more zest makes it even better!

    JasonJ–That could be fun!

  37. Definitely going to give this a try. Texas grapefruits are all over Central Market in Dallas. Can't wait!

  38. Drooling! Just wanted to say I often try your recipes and several have become my favourites. Thanks for your great site and beautiful photos.

  39. Nicole–It's the season!

    Knatolee–Why thank you! I'm so pleased to hear that!

  40. This cake sounds delicious. Since moving to Texas from California, I've become a grapefruit fanatic. Recently, I've been considering how to go about making grapefruit-infused cupcakes, and your pound cake recipe is another nudge in that direction. Thank you!

  41. Anonymous

    Well, I've just gone retro. I made this lovely cake with a zesty, pulpy, powered sugar glaze on top and it was spectacular while watching old episodes of "Robin of Sherwood", somehow, that all goes together. Thanks for the inspiration, we've just gotten some Texas Ruby Reds in WA state. I sometimes miss living in Austin!

  42. OMG! I made this last week. I didn't have any grapefruit available so I just used oranges. It was wonderful. I had my Granny's pound cake recipe for years, but lost it. She's since passed away, but yours will substitute nicely. Thanks.

  43. I love the blog!! Any idea about cooking time if making a half recipe in the loaf pan? (Though I'm sure the boyfriend and I could put down an entire pound cake it might be best if we don't.) Thanks!

  44. Charell–Start checking it for doneness after an hour, as it should probably take less time to bake.

  45. Wow – how original. Could it be done with a standard grapefruit? Pink are nicer I know. I definitely want to try this. Thanks for the inspiration!

  46. Just a quick update: made the half recipe of this a night or two ago and it turned out delicious. Done after 1 hour and added half of all ingredients aside from the grapefruit juice and zest, which I just added the full amount, as I wanted my cake extra grapefruit-y. HT does it again!

  47. Made this today for a pot luck. It was a hit! Can't wait to make it again. Thanks!

  48. Loved reading the description of driving on hwy 6 and the sights. the pound cake looks delicious. look forward to reading more of your blog and it makes me appreciate living in austin a bit more 😉

  49. Anonymous

    I made this with fat free greek yogurt instead of sour cream. It was amazing! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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