Favorite Buttermilk Cake

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This terrific basic cake, perfect with many different fillings and frostings, marries well with a variety of flavors, such as chocolate, maple, citrus, all types of nuts, caramel, and more. It holds up beautifully as an integral part of Peanut Butter Crunch Cake, Squared  and promises to do the same in your dessert creations.

Cooking MethodBaking


Total Timeunder 1 hour

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe CourseDessert

Dietary ConsiderationPeanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegetarian

EquipmentElectric Mixer

MealDinner, Tea

Taste and TextureCreamy, Sweet, Tangy

Type of DishCake


  • 1¾ cups (7 ounces/200 grams) cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup (5½ fl ounces/165 ml) well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5½ ounces (1 1/3 sticks/155 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups (9¼ ounces/260 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten


  1. Before baking:

  2. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat an 8 by 2-inch square pan with nonstick spray, then flour it, tapping out the excess flour. Or, butter and flour the pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Have all of the ingredients at room temperature.

  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper; set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the buttermilk and vanilla; set aside.

  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until it is lighter in color, clings to the sides of the bowl, and has a satiny appearance, 30 to 45 seconds. Increase the speed to medium-high and add the sugar in a steady stream, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue to beat on medium speed until the mixture is lighter in color and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

  5. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, beating after each addition until incorporated. If at any time the batter appears watery or shiny (signs of curdling), increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the batter is smooth again. Then return to medium speed and resume adding the eggs, beating until smooth, stopping the mixer as needed to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

  6. On the lowest speed, add the flour mixture in three additions alternately with the buttermilk mixture in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and mixing only until incorporated after each addition. Stop the mixer after each addition to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. With the rubber spatula, spread the batter from the center outward, creating a slightly raised ridge around the outside rim. (Since heat is conducted faster near the metal rim, mounding the batter around the edges ensures the cake will bake more evenly and will be more level.)

  8. Bake the cake just until it is golden brown on top, springs back when lightly touched in the center, a round wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out free of cake, and the sides are just beginning to come away from the pan, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes.

  9. Tilt and rotate the pan while gently tapping it on a counter to see if the cake sides release. If they don’t release, slip a small metal spatula between the still-warm cake and the pan and run the spatula carefully along the entire perimeter of the pan. Invert a rack on top of the cake, invert the cake onto it, and carefully lift off the pan. Slowly peel off the parchment paper, turn it over so that the sticky side faces up, and reposition it on the top of the cake. Invert another rack on top, invert the cake so it is right side up, and remove the original rack. Let cool completely.

  10. Use right away, or wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 1 day. For longer storage, overwrap with aluminum foil, label with the contents and date, and freeze for up to 2 weeks. To thaw, remove the foil and leave at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours.


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Just made this quickly the other day for a grandson's birthday. Made half of Flo's fudge frosting recipe and both were a hit. Cake has delightful homey crumb and flavor. Will make again, especially when I need a small cake.


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