This blueberry buttermilk upside-down cake is a stunner of a summer cake and couldn’t be easier to make either!

Blueberry Buttermilk Upside-Down Cake

This is the cake of family secrets.

It’s the cake that will make all of the old bitties at the church fair nudge each other out of the way with oversized handbags in order to buy the sole one remaining from the cakes and pies table.

It’s the cake I can picture being baked up in a tiny southern Georgia kitchen when the thermometer is crossing 90 degrees at 8am so that it’s ready for tea at 4pm.

Blueberry Buttermilk Upside-Down Cake

Maybe it’s the buttermilk that induces these visions. The buttermilk, that tends to be a secret ingredient that no one can put their finger on.

But needless to say, I’ve found the perfect white cake that I’ve been searching for.

It’s a tender – thanks to the cake flour and buttermilk – and delightful cake that, when made into a layer cake, as it should have been with the original recipe, would be a complete show-stopper of a cake.

Blueberry Buttermilk Upside-Down Cake

The original recipe that was chosen for this week’s Project Pastry Queen was a 3-layer cake with Jack Daniels’ buttercream cake. But I changed it substantially recipe to this buttermilk blueberry cake because I honestly couldn’t bear the thought of having to resist a buttercream-encased layer cake sitting on my counter for the rest of the week.

So I scaled the recipe down to one layer. And then lined the bottom of the cake pan with blueberries. I topped the blueberries with the cake batter, leveled it off, and baked.

Blueberry Buttermilk Upside-Down Cake

Now, if you know me, you KNOW I love me desserts baked with fruit. Peach cobbler, mini blueberry galettes, strawberry pie, blackberry lime crumb bars.

The strawberry summer cake I made a few years ago is similar to this blueberry cake. Let’s call it a 2nd cousin, shall we.

The Secret Ingredients to a Perfect Cake

Both cakes are single-layer cakes. Both include ripe and fresh summer fruit. But unlike this blueberry cake, the strawberry summer cake isn’t made with cake flour or buttermilk, both of which yield a super soft and tender cake. THESE are the secret ingredients to a perfect cake!

And they’re such basic ingredients too, aren’t they? Buttermilk (liquid, not dried) is available in most grocery stores these days. Or you can make your own by mixing 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice into 1 cup of milk.

Cake flour may be a little more difficult to find. Many regular grocery stores carry it in the baking aisle these days but not all of them do. And if you live outside the U.S., I hear it’s virtually impossible to find. I order cake flour online from Amazon or directly from King Arthur Flour but if I have also made my own in a pinch when I’m out of it.

To make your own cake flour, you’ll:

  1. Remove 2 tablespoons of flour from every cup you need in the recipe
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to the flour in the bowl
  3. Sift or whisk the flour together with the cornstarch

Yup! It’s that easy to make your own cake flour!

That strawberry cake, while so so delicious, also doesn’t have that familiar tang that a buttermilk cake produces. And the top of that strawberry cake yields a more cobbler-esque texture since the berries are baked into the batter and the cake is served rightside-up without any frosting.

Because the berries for this blueberry buttermilk upside-down cake are baked on the bottom of the pan, they all burst open when baked, leaving you with a layer of jammy blueberries followed by that utterly soft and delicious white cake layer. I liken this cake a little to a peach cake tatin, except there’s no caramel component to this cake.

Not that this blueberry cake is missing a caramel component. Because really, it’s just perfect as is.

Blueberry Buttermilk Upside-Down Cake

Blueberry Buttermilk Upside-Down Cake

Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 23 minutes
Total Time: 38 minutes

Blueberry buttermilk upside-down cake is a stunner of a summer cake. Made in a single layer, it's just perfect to serve with coffee for a simple weeknight dessert or to make and bring to a party, potluck, or picnic.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • A heavy/slightly rounded ⅛ tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup buttermilk (liquid, not dried)
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg white
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 to 1 ½ cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried (enough to almost cover the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan)
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions

  1. Place one of the oven racks to the center position of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking or baking spray, place a circle of parchment paper over the bottom of the pan (on the spray), then lightly spray the parchment paper with more cooking or baking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder together; set aside. Stir the lemon zest into the buttermilk, set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg white and vanilla and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute. Add about one-third of the flour mixture to the batter and beat on medium speed until just incorporated. Add about half of the buttermilk and beat on medium speed until just incorporated. Continue adding dry and wet ingredients alternately, scraping the bowl down and beating until incorporated after each addition. End with the dry ingredients; the batter should be thick and glossy.
  4. Spread the blueberries out in the bottom of the pan. Spoon the batter evenly over the blueberries and using an offset spatula, smooth the batter out to the sides of the pan.
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out mostly clean with just a few crumbs on the toothpick and the top is flat and lightly browned.
  6. Set the cake pan on a wire rack to cool for 10-15 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack and allow to cool completely before transferring it to a cake plate, dusting with powdered sugar, and serving.

Notes

Triple this recipe for a 9-inch round triple layer cake. Fill with the buttercream of your choice. Recommended buttercreams: chocolate, chocolate cream cheese, vanilla Swiss meringue, dulce de leche, or whipped vanilla from this cannoli cake.

heavily adapted from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather

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  • July 11, 2011 at 8:44 AM

    Yum! What a delicacy! I just love your Southern family baking setting. 🙂

  • July 11, 2011 at 8:44 AM

    OMG Tara, this looks incredible. So so pretty! And I agree, the white cake was really outstanding!

  • July 11, 2011 at 8:48 AM

    Wow, what a fun, yummy looking idea! I love new twists on old recipes! Thanks, Chris

  • July 11, 2011 at 9:16 AM

    This looks absolutely wonderful; I cannot wait to try this!

  • July 11, 2011 at 10:32 AM

    I love, love, love it! Perfect!

  • July 11, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    I’ve been seeing some amazing blueberries at the farmer’s market but didn’t know what to do with them. Now I have my answer!

  • July 11, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    Excellent adaptation! This looks so yummy to me!

  • July 11, 2011 at 11:02 AM

    I love buttermilk in baked goods, I bet this cake really does send people into a frenzy!

  • July 11, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    i’m hunting for ideas to use up my blueberries, this is a great idea! and thanks for sharing the buttermilk secret :-).

  • July 11, 2011 at 11:38 PM

    I can’t wait to get home and give this a try! Thanks for sharing!

  • July 13, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    The original recipe uses 1/2 cup buttermilk — tough to divide into thirds. How much did you use? Do you think 3 Tbs would be close? I think I will make this for a brunch I’m hosting this weekend! Gorgeous cake and fantastic idea!

    • smellslikehome
      July 13, 2011 at 2:58 PM

      The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk, not 1/2 cup – I just let Beth @ Powdered Plum know about the typo. In this case, obviously, you would use just 1/2 cup. Great question!

      • July 18, 2011 at 2:57 PM

        Thanks!! Too bad I just saw this today and made the cake over the weekend! It was still really good though. But I will say, I thought the cake layer was a tad too thin. Maybe that’s because the buttermilk was off – but I put down in my notes for next time to try it using 1 and 1/2 times the Powdered Plum cake recipe. Thoughts?

  • July 13, 2011 at 4:19 PM

    yum…..this looks so good. i just added a food favorites to my side bar on my blog – i’ll be popping over more for sure! xoxo, tracie

  • July 14, 2011 at 5:19 AM

    That cake looks amazing, I must get that recipe!

  • July 15, 2011 at 8:37 AM

    I saw this in BA too and HAD to make it immediately! Yours looks divine! My local grocer was completely sold out of blackberries, so I opted for raspberries and blueberries instead and it turned out yummy! So glad to see a straight blueberry version and know that it was a hit as well. 🙂

  • July 25, 2011 at 11:10 AM

    This looks absolutely delicious!! What a gorgeous cake! 🙂

  • July 25, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    Great variation on the traditional upside down cake AND the traditional white cake. I love this!

  • July 25, 2011 at 6:14 PM

    GORGEOUS! i love your adaptations and would definitely keep them if i was to give this recipe a spin, which im entirely tempted too after how utterly beautiful your cake has turned out 🙂

  • July 25, 2011 at 6:41 PM

    Oh, what a delightful cake! I love how you created the yummy blueberry topping…mmmmm.

  • July 25, 2011 at 7:36 PM

    This is a fabulous cake! The layer of blueberries sounds delicious and looks so pretty!

  • July 25, 2011 at 9:13 PM

    I love that you used all those blueberries! This cake looks delicious, I would totally eat it for breakfast 🙂

  • July 26, 2011 at 1:06 AM

    I love an upside down cake I am not entirely sure but I just do. This looks wonderful and the addition of buttermilk always makes a cake fantastic.

  • Ann
    July 26, 2011 at 11:31 PM

    Is there anyway you can repost YOUR version of the cake with any added notations on your website…. I would love that!! I really want to make your cake!! I am heading to Maine…. THANKS!!!

    • smellslikehome
      July 27, 2011 at 6:30 AM

      Since you’re going to Maine, one of my most favorite places on Earth, yes I’ll post the recipe later today. 🙂

  • ann
    July 27, 2011 at 11:58 PM

    Thanks!!! :-)) Yours looks so wonderful!!! Thanks for the effort of doing that!!!

  • August 2, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    Oh my, that looks so pretty! I love the color of the blueberries. And upside down cakes are always so beautiful 🙂

  • LJ
    February 3, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    I made this tonight for dessert and it was so good (and super easy)! Because I’m trying to watch my weight, I substituted a Stevia/sugar blend for the sugar but it still tasted yummy (and no on in my family could tell). I like that the cake layer is not too thick – I thought it was just right. I will definitely be making this gem again!

  • Chach
    June 15, 2012 at 7:53 PM

    I made this and was so unhappy with the results, the cake was flavorless and spongy. Worst of all I wasted my blueberries! 🙁 I followed this to a T…bummer, I was looking forward to this being as delish as everyone said it was .

    • June 15, 2012 at 9:42 PM

      Chach: I’m sorry to hear this. We really loved everything about this cake! Do you have any idea what could have gone wrong?

      • Chach
        June 16, 2012 at 5:07 PM

        You know, I dont always have liquid buttermilk on hand so I used buttermilk powder which has always worked out great when Ive used it in other recipes…I’m wondering if maybe that had something ot do with it? I did follow all directions though.

  • Jenna
    May 12, 2019 at 3:45 PM

    This was the lightest cake I’ve ever made with such a tender crumb it almost melted in my mouth. I used a whole egg because I didn’t have anything to do with the yolk at the moment and didn’t care if the cake was pure white, and I used orange zest because I didn’t have a lemon. Was still great.

    • Tara
      May 14, 2019 at 11:57 AM

      YAY! I absolutely love hearing this and about how you made it your own. This is truly one of my all-time favorite cakes and I dying for blueberry season to arrive again this year! Thank you so much for coming back to leave a review, Jenna! I just updated the recipe to a new format and I’d love it if you could take a quick second to leave a star rating! You’ll see this above the “Print Recipe” button in the new recipe card.

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