Let the Sunshine In – Adel’s Triple Citrus Sunshine Cake Recipe

by Adel Aschenbrener and Amy Robinson


Brighten your day with a Writing Pad class or retreat! Adel’s delicious Triple Citrus Sunshine Cake has been known to inspire literary brilliance. Call 323-333-2954 to RSVP before they are full!

Writing Retreats:

  • Writing Pad Ojai Retreat (Mar. 25 – 27 at a gorgeous ecosanctuary with award-winning author Thaisa Frank, NPR’s Alex Cohen, and Writing Pad’s Marilyn Friedman)

One Day Classes:

Multi Week Classes:

Adel says:
Although the California winter months are far from dreary, a little extra sunshine never hurts, especially in the form of dessert. This moist, golden cake can be made with almost any combination of citrus zest and juices. If you’re one of the lucky folks joining us for the Ojai retreat in March, you’ll be tasting a version made with the amazingly sweet and delicious local Ojai Valley Pixie tangerines and Cara Cara oranges.”


Triple Citrus Sunshine Cake

For The Cake

3 cups sifted cake flour
(sift the flour first, then measure it by scooping it gently into a measuring cup and leveling off the top)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt (I like Greek style yogurt such as Fage)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or the pulp and seeds scraped from 1/2 of a vanilla bean
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons, 2 oranges, and 1 grapefruit , preferably organic, scrubbed well before zesting (see Note)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Note: other citrus such as Meyer lemons, limes, satsumas, blood oranges etc. can be substituted here as well as for the juice in the recipe. If you don’t have a fine grater or citrus zester, you can also use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin in thin strips and then finely chop it with a bit of granulated sugar sprinkled on the cutting board for traction and to grab onto the flavorful oils.

Equipment: 9 or 10-inch tube pan or bundt cake pan, buttered and floured

In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat at medium speed until very pale, light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well between additions and making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula. In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt with the vanilla extract and citrus zests and juices. On low speed, mix the dry ingredients into the batter in 3 batches, alternating with the yogurt mixture. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack. Brush with the citrus glaze while the cake is still warm, or it will not absorb completely. It may take a while to soak in, but just keep layering it on with the brush.

Citrus Glaze and Candied Zest

1 lemon, 1 orange, and 1 grapefruit, preferably organic, scrubbed
2 1/2 cups sugar

Note: do not substitute limes for the candied zest, as they will turn brown when cooked

With a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the orange, lemon and grapefruit in long strips, being careful not to cut too deeply into the white pith, which is bitter. Cut the zest into fine julienne (about 1/8th of an inch wide). Fill a medium saucepan with cold water. Add the zest and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain the zest and rinse under cold water. Return the zest to the saucepan. Add 1/2 cup of the sugar and 1 cup of cold water and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Simmer over low heat until the glaze is slightly thickened and the zest is softened and translucent, about 20 minutes. Strain the glaze into a bowl, pressing on the zest to extract as much liquid as possible. Toss the zest in the remaining 2 cups of sugar to coat completely. Scatter the sugared zest on a Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and let stand until dry to the touch, about 2 hours.