Ever since we made a wedding cake last summer, we’ve been meaning to blog about the buttermilk cake recipe we used. It’s by far our favorite cake recipe, not only because it is superbly delicious (because it really is!), but also because it holds up well to frostings and fillings and slices like a dream. It’s become our go-to vanilla cake recipe and I can’t imagine switching to another one.
It has a rich flavor from the buttermilk and vanilla, and a tender crumb thanks to the cake flour, and it has always turned out perfectly. We made it recently for our brothers’ graduation party (see the pie we also made), and thanks to our parents’ wedding anniversary this past week, we had another opportunity to make it. Our family just moved, and this is also the first cake we baked in our new house! Although finding all the measuring tools and ingredients was a bit of a struggle, we are happy to say that our new oven is more than up to the task of cake baking.
We have typically frosted this cake with Swiss meringue buttercream, but this time around we wanted to save the hassle of separating eggs and instead make a more standard American buttercream. Smitten Kitchen recently posted a classic buttercream, but brilliantly added sour cream, which imparts a richness to the frosting and a very subtle tang to cut the sweetness. You can’t taste the sour cream itself, but it really adds a special something to the frosting. We topped the whole cake off with berries (inspired by this pic on Bouchon Bakery’s Instagram), which were a phenomenal addition. We especially love strawberries with this buttermilk cake (which is the pairing we made for the wedding) and next time we’ll probably slice some to go in between the layers. Do yourself a favor and make this cake before the end of the summer, while berries are sill in season!
Buttermilk Cake with Buttercream and Berries
Makes 1 3-layer, 8 or 9 inch cake
For the cake:
3 3/4 cups cake flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups plus 1/3 cup buttermilk
5 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the frosting:
2 cups (455 grams or 16 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature 7 1/2 cups (just under 2 lbs.) powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy 1/2 cup (120 grams) sour cream, plus more if needed 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract
Plus…a variety of fresh berries to top (we used strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries. But raspberries would also be great!). You can also add some between cake layers. Make sure your cake is well-chilled before serving if you do add fruit between the layers, to ensure stability.
For the cake:
Preheat your oven to 325. Butter 3 9-inch round cake pans (we used 8-inch pans and had no problems with them spilling over, though they were a little thicker and took slightly longer to bake). Line the bottom of the pans with a round of parchment paper and butter the paper, too. Dust the pans with flour.
In a large bowl, combine cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Blend for 30 seconds with an electric mixer on low speed (you can use a stand or handheld mixer for this cake). Add butter and 1 1/4 cups of the buttermilk. Blend on low speed until combined, and then beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together the whole eggs and yolks, vanilla, and the remaining 1/3 cup of buttermilk until well blended (we recommend beating well to remove any strands of egg whites, because these can be a pain to fold in at the end and you don’t want to overmix the batter).
Add 1/3 of the egg mixture into the cake batter at a time, and fold in with a spatula completely after adding each addition.
Divide batter between pans evenly–we’ve found that pushing the batter towards the edge so there’s less in the middle will prevent the cakes from doming too much and result in nice and level cakes. Bake 26-28 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Turn out cakes onto wire racks and let them cool completely before frosting. Level if necessary.
For the frosting:
Beat together the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add sour cream and vanilla and beat again. If necessary, add an additional tablespoon or two of sour cream to soften the frosting. Frost the cake and top with berries. This frosting gets soft somewhat quickly, so if you’re piping, we’d suggest periodically putting your piping bag in the fridge. Also, because of the sour cream, make sure you store this cake in the fridge up until shortly before serving. Enjoy!