Buttermilk cake

One morning a couple of weeks ago, I clicked over to Southern Souffle and read Erika's post about buttermilk cake...
I read...and I was drawn into her narrative.  When I finished reading, I was feeling this mix of emotions - sad, glad, scared, frustrated, and all kinds of things in between. I wanted to comment on the post, tell her that her story affected me, but I sat there, not really knowing what to say.
I sat quietly at my desk for a while.  I was trying to wrap my head around her story but one thing was clear: it inspired me and I knew there was something constructive that I could do.  I could bake the buttermilk cake.  And that's what I did a few hours later that day.  
When my 10-year old son came home from school that afternoon, I told him about how I read this blog post that morning and it inspired me to make this cake.  I served him a slice, then I essentially read the blog post to him while he ate.  We had a good little conversation over this cake.  And when my husband came home, I shared a slice with him and told him how we came to be eating this buttermilk cake today.
So thank you, Erika, for sharing your story and for this delicious buttermilk cake recipe to go with it.  Food does so much for us.  And good food is ever more meaningful with a story behind it.

Now let's talk a little about this cake, shall we?  I divided Erika's recipe in half and baked the cake in an 8-inch square pan.  The method for mixing this cake is a little different from the norm in that (cold) butter is gradually mixed into the dry ingredients (instead of the creaming method of beating butter with just the sugar first) before eggs and wet ingredients are added.  I've read about this method from one of Rose Levy Beranbaum's books but I can't remember ever actually following such a recipe.  You have to be patient about working the cold butter into the dry ingredients but when it was all done, I was pleasantly surprised by the satiny smooth cake batter that results.
My one small contribution was the addition of some fresh lemon zest into the cake batter.  We really liked that extra little bit of lemon flavor in the final result.  I have been keeping citrus zest in the freezer lately and trying to remember to put it to good use.  

I love the golden crust around the edges of the cake.  And when you slice into it, it promises a moist and tender crumb.  It is indeed comforting.  Erika calls this "classic" buttermilk cake and I can see why.  I only wish I'd grown up with classics like this.
Making this cake was pretty seamless for me...as I sat by my computer that morning, I knew I had some buttermilk in the fridge and I knew I was low on cake flour but hoped I had enough.  When I went to check, I discovered I had just enough - about a tablespoon or so to spare, to be exact - so it really was a sign.  But I think I would've made a stop to the grocery store to get some more cake flour if I'd needed it...


Recipe:

Classic Buttermilk Cake
Adapted from Southern Souffle

- One 9x13 inch square cake (I divided the recipe in half and used an 8-inch square pan) - 

3 cups cake flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest (optional)
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
5 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Powdered sugar, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a a 9x13 inch baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the flour, sugar, lemon zest (if using), baking powder, and salt.  With the mixer on low-speed, add cold butter, a few pieces at a time, until all the butter is fully incorporated.  (To me, the mixture looks like almond meal at this point).  Add eggs, one at a time, to incorporate.  Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed.  (Now, the mixture resembles cookie dough.) Increase mixer speed to medium and gradually add the buttermilk and vanilla.  Beat until incorporated.  The finished batter should be smooth and satiny.  

Scrape batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cake is golden and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean (I found the half-recipe, or 8-inch cake, needed about the same amount of time).  Let cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 30 minutes before removing.  Dust cooled cake with powdered sugar, if desired.  



48 comments:

  1. I've never had buttermilk cake, but holy cow this looks so moist and delicious!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I first started blogging and baking more, I had no idea about buttermilk. Now, I buy and use it very regularly. : )

      Delete
  2. Went back and read Erika's post- really resonated with me and I'm glad it had such a profound effect on you and your family and sparked important discussions! This cake is, of course, lovely :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love the smooth and light texture of this beautiful buttermilk cake!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same here - have a great week, Angie.

      Delete
  4. Food really does do so much for us - I couldn't agree more with that statement! Heading over to read that post now...

    But first, this cake. Gosh how I just love buttermilk in baked goodies - this looks so simple yet so perfect!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Food does nourish and comfort us and is the backdrop for so many memories. : )

      Delete
  5. Hi Monica, I read Southern Souffle's post and I felt so much emotion. Beautiful post and cake.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Cheri. I was just sitting there reading Erika's story, feeling sad and then so glad it had a good ending...but then feeling sad again knowing how often the ending is not so...

      Delete
  6. I think I've clicked on your post 4 times today but never got the chance to leave a comment! That was a serious and scary event in her life and it's also interesting how certain foods can bring you back to an event in a moment. The cake looks wonderful, light and delicious. I often prefer something less complicated when it comes to dessert. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tricia - so many of my memories are food memories, either front & center or there in the backdrop making a big impact. I agree with you - elaborate food has its place but more of than not, it's the simple I want to eat and make.

      Delete
  7. Your recipes are always perfect and delicious. This cake looks so moist and YUMMY dear!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know about that but I think I have a good nose for sniffing out good recipes by this point. Thank you.

      Delete
  8. I love buttermilk cake, In fact I made it on Saturday for my Kitty Party friends and decorated with lemon curd. This is indeed a keeper recipe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you made a buttermilk cake and enjoyed it. Lemon curd sounds like a great addition. I loved the taste of lemon in this one from the zest I added. It's always good to find recipes you'd want to make over and over again.

      Delete
  9. This looks so deliciously fluffy! I read Erika's story as well, really scary!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, scary was definitely one of my reactions. sigh...so glad there was cake cushioning her 'heavy' post.

      Delete
  10. Love this cake, Monica! I ran over to read the original story (since it had touched you so much) and wow...i can't imagine either. Thank you for inadvertently introducing me to her work, by the way.

    This cake looks perfect: i've long been a fan of buttermilk in cakes - vanilla, chocolate, you name it - because it gives it a gorgeous depth and a lovely texture. I can't wait to make this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Shannon - I hope you're well. Erika's story...well, it was hard to imagine for me and I think that's why I was struck dumb for a while trying to figure out what I wanted to say. So happy she shared this simple buttermilk cake recipe. I can never have enough basic cakes that taste this good.

      Delete
  11. That's what I love about food. It's not only a source of gustatory delight but also a way of sharing stories and memories with people near and far, ultimately bringing people closer together. Lovely post, Monica (: The cake looks wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree...so many memories of mine involve food, either front and center or involved in some way! I think it's that way for a lot of people.

      Delete
  12. I love the story behind you baking this cake and how you shared it with your family and all of us. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Ashley. I was glad I caught Erika's post and got to read her story.

      Delete
  13. Hi! I love your blog,it makes me konw a lot about this.Thank you for your share.By the way,i want to share a best free date recovery to you!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Replies
    1. Thank so much. I'm glad I learned the recipe.

      Delete
  15. YES! This is definitely my favorite type of cake! I'm a total buttermilk flavor lover and would die to have a piece or two... Great recipe! Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad I know this recipe now, too, Marcela...thanks.

      Delete
  16. What a perfect texture! I have never had buttermilk cake...well...it is time to bake one.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe Monica.
    Hope you are having a nice week :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It wasn't long ago that I had no idea about buttermilk and how great it is for baking. Hope all is well with you, Juliana. Enjoy your delicious breads.

      Delete
  17. Oh my goodness, what a powerful post, Monica! Thank you so much for sharing the story behind this cake. I felt so many emotions reading Erika's story and am so glad that her 6"4 guardian angel that night. Love that you made her buttermilk cake, it is so beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tell me about it. Erika's post was really something and I'm glad she shared it with this wonderful cake. I just want to send a lot of love to her 6'4" guardian angel. : )

      Delete
  18. I went to read Erika's post and I felt so upset and glad at the same time for her. This buttermilk cake is simply beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I really had such mixed emotions, too, Jasline. The cake is very tasty.

      Delete
  19. What a delicious, moist and fluffy cake!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Love the beautiful story behind baking this cake, Monica. Love how beautiful and delicious this buttermilk cake is. Thank you for sharing this! :)

    Anu
    www.mygingergarlickitchen.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am glad I read the post and learned her story. Thanks, Anu.

      Delete
  21. This looks so good, what a lovely colour and texture.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Oh WOW Monica! I'm so speechless... Food really does bring us together. I can't thank you enough for sharing and I'm glad you enjoyed the cake. Much love to you. -Erika

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Erika!!! I can't tell you how happy I am you stopped by my teeny space here! Thank *you* for your kind words and more importantly, for sharing your stories and recipes with so many of us. I really enjoy reading your posts and learning about your recipes. Needless to say, the buttermilk cake post really touched me.

      I'm so glad you don't mind that I shared my experience of reading your buttermilk cake post. I will remember it...Thank you!!

      Delete
  23. You never considered publishing your own cookbook. (I'm not trying to flatter you) This cake is simple but so beautiful. Gorgeous pics as usual;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are too kind but I'm just an unprofessional "recipe tester", if you will, and we have the actual sources/creators to thank for any good recipes, believe me!!

      Delete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...