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.
Maybe it’s the buttermilk that induces these visions…the buttermilk that tends to be that 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 for the original recipe) would be a complete show-stopper.
Beth of The Powdered Plum chose the original recipe (a 3-layer with Jack Daniels’ buttercream cake) for Project Pastry Queen but I changed it substantially recipe because I honestly couldn’t bear the thought of having to resist a buttercream encased layer cake sitting on my counter this week.
- 1 cup cake flour
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- A heavy/slightly rounded 1/8 tsp baking powder
- ½ cup buttermilk
- Zest of ½ lemon
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
source: heavily adapted from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather