No matter how you say it — to-MAY-to or to-MAH-to, save room for You Say Tomato’s tasty Grapefruit Cake ($5.95 per slice).
By MARY G. PEPITONE
Special to The Star
Luscious layer cakes by co-owner Mark Wingard sit atop the counter under cake domes. Wingard has made the grapefruit cake recipe — originally from the Brown Derby, a chain of restaurants started in 1920s Los Angeles — his own.
He says it gets better if it can sit a day before it’s eaten. “ If you can wait that long,” he adds.
You Say Tomato, in Kansas City’s Longfellow/Dutch Hill neighborhood, is a warm hang-out/diner/coffee shop/art gallery/grocery store that feeds workers from Hospital Hill, Hallmark and Crown Center. But word of mouth has spread to Johnson County, pulling in weekend brunch devotees who clamor for one of the small diner’s eclectic seating arrangements, including one featuring Grandma’s yellow Formica table.
Wingard and co-owner Randy Parks grew up in western Kansas. “We grew up living farm to table, and it took a village of extended family to feed us,” Wingard says. “We still believe in food that uses local and organic ingredients, and especially after we first opened, it took the support of our village — neighbors and friends — to help feed the people coming in.”
You Say Tomato serves only breakfast and lunch and is known for making everything from scratch. Wingard’s soup and quiche warm the fall/winter menu, but as spring gives way to summer, the food reflects fresh ingredients brought in from Goode Acres, a small farm in Wathena, Kan.
You Say Tomato Grapefruit Cake
Makes 12 servings
For the cake:
2 large red-ruby grapefruits
6 room-temperature eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 lemon, zested
For the citrus cream cheese frosting:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons grapefruit juice
1/2 teaspoon grapefruit zest
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom of 2 (9-inch) cake pans with parchment paper, each cut into a 9-inch circle. Set pans aside.
Working over a bowl, zest 1 grapefruit and set aside for use in frosting.
Using a sharp knife, cut skin and pith off both grapefruits. Working over a clean mixing bowl and using a sharp knife, cut out each segment of grapefruit between the membranes. Place all segments from 2 grapefruits on paper towels to absorb extra moisture. Set aside until ready to assemble cake.
After all segments have been cut from grapefruits, squeeze the leftover membranes over bowl to extract juice. Yield should be 9 tablespoons of juice, adding additional water as needed, for divided use in cake batter and frosting. Set aside juice and compost grapefruit membranes.
In a large mixing bowl, whip egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form, using an electric mixer set on medium-high speed. Set aside.
In a separate mixing bowl, using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt on lowest speed.
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk water, vegetable oil, 6 tablespoons fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, lemon zest and egg yolks together by hand. With mixer running on low, slowly add wet ingredients to flour mixture until well incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Batter will be thick.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold egg whites into batter. Evenly pour batter between two prepared cake pans and bake for 15 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center.
Allow cakes to cool 10 minutes in pans, then invert onto wire racks to cool completely.
To make the frosting: While cakes are cooling, in a large mixing bowl combine cream cheese, butter, 3 tablespoons remaining grapefruit juice and zest, using an electric mixer on medium speed. Slowly add confectioners’ sugar until frosting is a spreadable consistency. If frosting becomes too thick, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is achieved.
To assemble the cake: Slice both cooled cake rounds horizontally, using a serrated knife, yielding 4 cake layers. Place bottom layer on serving cake platter or stand and spread with frosting. Place one-quarter of fresh grapefruit segments on frosting and top with unfrosted cake round. Continue process of frosting and topping with grapefruit segments until all 4 cake rounds have been frosted and final grapefruit segments are decoratively placed on top. Cover with cake dome and cool in refrigerator before serving.
Per serving: 635 calories (37 percent from fat), 26 grams total fat (11 grams saturated), 147 milligrams cholesterol, 94 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams protein, 648 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.