Sunday, January 20, 2013

Orange-Scented Buttermilk Cake

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I must start by telling you that this cake is as delicious as it sounds, but then I quickly have to add that the devil is lurking in the details. I found the recipe in the December issue of Food and Wine magazine. It caught my eye, so I scanned the recipe, but as I read it I found a discrepancy in the amount of an ingredient that was to be used. I went to the online version of the recipe seeking clarification, but that just muddied the water. The problem centered on the amount of liquid to be used in preparation of the cake. Both versions of the recipe specified 1-1/4 cups of buttermilk, but the magazine version used just 3/4 cup of it. I decided to proceed using quantities based on standard cake formulations that I learned years ago for recipe competitions. A little food science never hurts, and if ever someone asks you to make a cake without a recipe it can be a life saver that's worth a buck or two. The trick lies in the weight of ingredients rather than their volume. When the weight of flour equals the weight of sugar, and the weight of the eggs equals the weight the fat, and the total weight of all liquid ingredients, including eggs, equals the weight of sugar, you'll have a cake, if you remember to add some baking powder, soda and salt. Based on that, I decided to use the magazine quantities and the recipe below reflects that choice. The original version of the recipe can be found here. I must warn you that this is not a pretty cake, but it is light and moist and delicious. It is important to line the pans you use to make the loaves. The large amount of sugar used in this recipe makes the cakes prone to sticking, but a parchment liner makes easy work of removal. I hope you'll give this recipe a try. This is a perfect dessert for a large group. Here is how the cakes are made.

Orange-Scented Buttermilk Cake...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Food and Wine magazine


3-1/4 cups cake flour, sifted, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously coat three 8-by-4-inch loaf pans with butter. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper. Butter parchment paper and dust pans with flour. Arrange pans on a baking sheet.
2) In a medium bowl, whisk cake flour with baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
3) In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter with sugar and orange zest at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between additions and scraping down the sides of bowl. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla.
4) At low speed, beat in dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk and beginning and ending with dry ingredients; gently fold just until blended.
Scrape batter into prepared pans and smooth tops; gently tap once to release any air. Bake loaves for about 45 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center of each loaf comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.
5) Transfer the loaves to a rack for 20 minutes, then turn them out onto rack and set them right side up to cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, slice and serve. Yield: 3 loaves (21 slices).

One Year Ago Today: Pork and Fennel Meatballs

Two Years Ago Today: Lemon Pound Cake

Three Years Ago Today: Mexicalli Pizza


Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger said...

That's a great tip Mary, you sure know your stuff!
Duncan In Kuantan

Pondside said...

It sounds good - I like a cake that reminds me of an old-fashioned tea cake.

Merisi said...

Here I am, with a cup of tea, looking, no, staring at your pretty cake (yes, it is pretty!), letting the words roll off my tongue, "Orange-Scented-Buttermilk-Cake", trying to use the power of my mind to wish a slice onto my empty plate! Turns out, I am not a witch! ;-)

Katarina said...

Thanks for explaining the science part of a cake! The cake sounds delicious.

Tanna said...

I love the proportions for cake magic!! =) And, just the title of this cake has my mouth watering, Mary. Thank you. blessings ~ tanna

Joanne said...

I need to remember that ratio trick! Very cool.

Kim said...

Even if it's not the prettiest cake, I'm sure it'S lovely. Love orange-scent cakes!!!!!

Martha said...

This looks like a good recipe -- and I'm eager to try it. This kind of cake is good to have in the freezer for when company comes and I see it makes a lot! Now off to buy cake flour!

kitchen flavours said...

This cake looks delicious! I love simple cakes like this, moist, soft and tender. Great with a cup of tea. Thanks for sharing, hope you have a lovely week ahead!

Debbie said...

Oh does this look good. This is exactly the kind of cake I love to bake!!! And of course eat plenty of!!!

Valerie Gamine said...

I think it's a gorgeous cake, Mary! And thanks for the cake-baking facts...I never paused long enough to take not of the weight ratio. :) said...

I love anything citrus. This looks so delicious...all I need is a cuppa tea!

Priya Suresh said...

Omg, such a beautiful cake,wish i get a slice rite now.

Ginny Hartzler said...

This looks wonderful, as do so many of your beautiful loaf cakes. I really do need to go out and buy a loaf pan!!! Would I split this in thirds to make just one? You are a math GENIUS!!! Weights and numbers and such do not come easily to me, if at all!

David said...

Mary, Orange scented buttermilk cake...perfect with coffee or tea or as a light after meal dessert. Love the richness imparted by the buttermilk. Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I love what buttermilk does for a cake Mary. It's good to know a little science behind baking for reliable results. I can't say I would have caught it myself.

tender b. said...

Pretty means is all about the taste. And this sounds like it is tasty.

Rebekah said...

Thank you for sharing - sounds wonderful!

Buttercup said...

I've been working at cutting back sugar, but this beauty is reeling me back in. I like all desserts, but this looks perfect to me.

teresa said...

it really is handy to know the science of baking! this looks wonderful!

Gerlinde in Washington said...

Your cakes always look so lovely and this is no exception!

Eileen said...

This sounds delicious. I love orange-flavored baked goods. I've pinned this so I won't lose it. :)

Daniela Grimburg said...

Hi Mary,your Buttermilk Cake looks so tempting and the Orange Scent gives it a wonderful twist!

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