Pink Grapefruit Upside Down Cake with a Lilac Syrup

I have an important announcement to make. My friend, Rebecca from Figs and Pigs, got nominated for Food Blogger of the Year for the Blogosphere Awards 2017! Her food blog is laden with delicious recipes and gorgeous photographs (please go check her website if you haven’t already) and it would mean so much if you could take a moment to cast your votes for the awards by the 22nd May 2017 here. Thank you!

Meanwhile, I have finally given up waiting for the lilacs to come forth in my garden and instead found some lovely specimens whilst walking around Bakewell with Lucy and Djamo over the weekend. For some reason or other, the lilacs here seem to have come around rather slowly (like not-even-close-to-showing-any-blossom-stems slow). I still have my fingers crossed that they will make an appearance this year, especially since the side path next to my flat is usually covered in them and it is truly a sight to see. But, there are other places to find them, so all is not lost!

On the subject of lilacs, I absolutely love the fact that so many foodies are incorporating seasonal flowers into recipes with lilac being centre stage at the moment. I have seen a few recipes as of late that have completely inspired me to create a couple of recipes that use these fragrant blossoms of my own. Last year I made some lemon sugared dusted bomboloni with a rich lilac crème pâtissèrie, which were lovely. But this year I have been inspired by Aimee, from Twiggstudios, who made the most beautiful buckwheat sponge with strawberries in lilac syrup I had ever seen and I fell in love with how Annika, from Conifères et Feuillus (Another beautiful blog! Please check it out!) used lilac to adorn her honey infused labneh with berries. So keep your eyes peeled!

For this recipe, I really wanted to pair the lilac with another ingredient as opposed to simply being a “stand-alone” recipe. So this cake was born. It is sticky, moist, and oh so delicious, especially with the grapefruit on the caramelised top (think seville marmalade). There is a balance here between the sweet and floral, and the bitter citrus, which I absolutely adore as well.

Lilac syrup

Cooking time: 15 minutes plus cooling time
Makes: approximately 1 1/2 cups


2 cups lilac blossoms
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon

Begin by making the lilac syrup. Place the sugar and water into a pan and allow to come to a boil. Add the lilac blossoms and allow to boil for a couple of minutes before taking off the heat and adding the lemon juice. Allow to infuse for 5-10 minutes before straining the blossoms into a sealable jar. Allow to cool completely.

Pink Grapefruit Semolina Cake

Cooking time: 1 1/2 hours plus cooling
Makes: 1x8inch cake


4 slices of pink grapefruit
1 cup plain flour
1 cup semolina
2tsp baking powder
2tbsp cornstarch
1/2tsp sea salt
1tsp mahleb
1/2tsp cardamom, ground
1/4tsp cinnamon
1 1/4cups caster sugar
1tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup olive oil
4 eggs
zest of 1 pink grapefruit

Pink Grapefruit Caramel Syrup


4tbsp butter
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup lilac sugar (recipe here)
2tbsp pink grapefruit juice

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan-assisted) 350ºF. Place the ingredients for the caramel into a saucepan over a low heat. When the sugar has completely dissolved, removing from the heat and pour into a cake tin.

Slice 3 of the 4 grapefruit slithers in half and place them around the bottom edges of the tin over the caramel. Place the last slice in the middle. Set aside.

Next, sieve all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix all the wet ingredients into another. Pour the wet into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Pour into cake tin and place in the oven for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Whilst the cake is still hot (and in its tin), pour the lilac syrup over the top and allow to cool slightly before removing from the cake tin.  Can be eaten immediately, else allow to cool completely before serving (Note: I’ve found that the pith of the grapefruit isn’t as bitter on the second day).

Eat within 3 days.

Thank you for reading.
Enjoy x


  1. May 16, 2017 / 9:46 pm

    Firstly, thank you so so much for your kind words and support Yasmin, it is so very lovely of you to share this. Secondly this cake looks divine I really love grapefruit in cake and combined with lilac it sounds like a dream. I have my eye on some lilacs too Im waiting patiently. Also coniferes et feuillis is a new blog discovery for me and its beautiful. xxxx

    • Sumac & Dutch
      May 18, 2017 / 10:03 pm

      You’re very welcome, Rebecca! 🙂 and thank you so much for your kind words 🙂 🙂 I’m keeping my eyes peeled for some lovely dark coloured lilac at the moment, so I can make something wonderful over the weekend! Conifères et Feuillis is such a lovely blog that I fell in love with it on first viewing. xxx

  2. May 17, 2017 / 1:44 pm

    Yasmin, thank you so much for the mention. I am truly honoured and humbled. As humans, we always second-guess ourselves and tend to be our worst critics. To receive an affirmation from someone as talented as you is so encouraging! And this cake shows off your talent really well! The combination of flavours is amazing as is the photo styling!

    • Sumac & Dutch
      May 18, 2017 / 10:09 pm

      Thank you so much, Annika 🙂 I know exactly what you mean. I too sometimes go through periods of self-doubt and criticise my photography or styling to the extent of having to redo all the photographs again. Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words, they have truly made my day! Knowing that there are people who do enjoy my recipes, styling and photography really keeps me motivated to better myself everyday. Thank you! xx

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