As you may have guessed, I have a serious soft spot for everyday cakes.* I call them Dinner Party Cakes. Or Potluck Cakes. Or I Heard You Were Coming and So I Baked You a Cake, cakes. Or If You Bake a Cake, The People Will Come cakes, as a fresh-from-the-oven cake has a way of drawing friends around your coffee table on an otherwise blah Monday night. Home baked goods are magical like that.
This one was no exception. (Well, except for the part where the preggo in the audience may have fallen asleep before actually telling people when to ring the doorbell. But let’s not talk about that.) I saw it in Gourmet last week and it sounded so deliciously summery, I was “fixin'” (as my friend Molly says) to bake it immediately. Alas, I’m still convinced my new kitchen conspires against me, as this time the oven which had been working a whole 36 hours before had mysteriously stopped (Said “mystery” turned out to be a pilot light that needed re-lighting. What? I’m new here, okay?) and I had to wait a whole four days to actually get to this.
It was totally worth the wait. The cake is ridiculously simple, takes no time at all to assemble or bake (especially if you discover that your newly-lit oven runs ridiculously hot and spits out an almost-toasted cake in just over half the suggested time, not that I recommend this) and is therefore just perfect for your upcoming long weekend (or Tuesday night) as it will not keep you from it. I already told you, it’s magic.
* One day, soon hopefully, I will put all of the “everyday cakes” on this site on one topic page. Update: And I have! Hooray.
Two years ago: Cellophane Noodle Salad with Roast Pork… promise me you’ll make this on the grill this weekend, m’kay?
Raspberry Buttermilk Cake
Adapted from Gourmet, June 2009
You can just ignore the word “raspberry” up there and swap it up with any which berry you please, like blackberries or blueberries or bits of strawberries or all of the above. This is a good, basic go-to buttermilk cake (not unlike a lemon yogurt cake before it) — moist and ever-so-light — a great jumping off point for whatever you can dream up.
By the way, I was having a “moment” when I made this and for once, remembered to weigh my ingredients as I measured them, for all of you people out there that know weighing is way easier than dirtying a zillion cups and spoons. Now let’s just hope my scale is accurate.
Makes one thin 9-inch cake, which might serve eight people, if you can pry it from first two people’s grasp
1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (2 ounces or 55 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup (146 grams) plus 1 1/2 tablespoons (22 grams) sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)
1 large (57 grams) egg
1/2 cup (118 ml) well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup (5 ounces or 140 grams) fresh raspberries
Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 2/3 cup (146 grams) sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla and zest, if using. Add egg and beat well.
At low speed, mix in flour mixture in three batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter (see Note) raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons (22 grams) sugar.
Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate.
[Baking time updated, shortened, after so many of you concurred that this cake bakes crazy quickly.]
Note: Directions like “scatter” always scare me. Where’s the science? Here’s what my neuroses taught us: the ones that were downward were almost all swallowed by the batter. The "o" ones stayed empty, like cups. Both were delicious.
Make your own almost-buttermilk: No need to buy buttermilk especially for this or any recipe. Add one
teaspoon tablespoon [updated, as an astute reader pointed out that the larger amount is more common] of vinegar or lemon juice to one cup of milk and let it sit until it clabbers, about 10 minutes. Voila, buttermilk!