Everyone flips over this moist, delicious buttermilk cake with a fabulous pecan topping and crisp, candy-glazed edges. After the first bite, they beg for the recipe. They never believe how EASY it is!
If your friends and family are anything like mine, the first bite of this Easy Farmhouse Buttermilk Cake will have them swooning, moaning, sighing and/or saying "Oh, my gosh!".
I saw a picture of this buttermilk cake in an email from King Arthur Flour. The cake looked fabulous and I loved the rustic, charming name. I tried the recipe a while back when some friends were coming for lunch. Being a bit lazy (and always in a hurry), I simplified it to involve just one bowl and no mixer. I've been making it ever since, always to rave reviews.
It's such a winner! When a recipe is REALLY good my husband calls it "candy", (even if it's meat or veggies!). This cake can definitely be labeled as "candy" both literally and figuratively! The cake is super moist with lots of flavor, and the topping reminds us of a delicious combination of sticky buns and pecan pie. And then there's that thin candy-like glaze that forms on the edges as the cake bakes, you can see what I mean in the picture below.
How quick and easy is this buttermilk cake?
It's actually ridiculously easy! That's how we label recipes here at The Café that take minimal effort on your part while making you look like a kitchen rock star. You can read more about our collection of Ridiculously Easy recipes (yes, we have a whole series of these super easy recipes) in this post but below is an example of just how easy this recipe is:
A while back, our granddaughter, Elle, was in a play. Her older sister, Annie (12 at the time) stayed at home while we attended the 40-minute performance since she had already seen it. Annie started this buttermilk cake recipe as we were leaving for the play and, by the time we returned, it was done! It was gorgeous and later, when we indulged in Annie's cake, everyone agreed that this dessert was definitely "blog-worthy" (the highest accolade in our family!).
We've also made a video demonstrating that this Farmhouse Buttermilk Cake truly does earn that Ridiculously Easy moniker. Check it out:
What is buttermilk and what kind should I buy?
Originally, buttermilk was the liquid left behind after churning butter out of cultured cream. This type of buttermilk is now specifically referred to as traditional buttermilk. The fermented dairy product that is widely available these days at most groceries and markets is cultured buttermilk.
Cultured buttermilk is regular dairy milk that has been inoculated with an acidic culture. The acidic culture simulates the naturally occurring bacteria in the traditional product. The result is the characteristic sour taste of buttermilk as well as a thicker product. Sometimes you'll notice flecks of butter in purchased buttermilk. This is actually butter which has been added by the dairy to simulate the residual flecks of butter that are often leftover when churning traditional buttermilk.
If you check out the dairy shelves of your local grocery, you'll notice that buttermilk comes in two varieties, whole milk, and low fat. The difference is just as the names imply: whole milk buttermilk is made from whole milk and the low fat from skim or 1% milk.
So which should you buy? That's really just a matter of personal preference. I prefer the whole milk variety when baking, but either one will result in a delicious buttermilk cake with this recipe.
And if you're in a pinch, you can even make your own buttermilk. Check out the Café Tips below for simple instructions.
How do I love thee, oh Easy Farmhouse Buttermilk Cake? Let me count the ways...
- Your recipe is so simple: combine butter and sugar in a bowl, add buttermilk and egg. Stir. Sprinkle dry ingredients over the top, mix, then transfer batter to a pan. Bake. While the cake finishes up in the oven, make the easy topping in the same bowl. Pour topping over the cake and bake a little longer. Cool and ENJOY!
- Your tender, moist crumb is amazing!
- There's your pecan-praline-like topping, perfectly complementing the light, delicate texture of the cake.
- Oh my! I love the way the topping seeps down the sides of the cake in the oven, caramelizing and becoming candylike in texture.
- You freeze beautifully so you're a great recipe to make ahead for guests.
- I love that you're crazy delicious whether served warm or at room temperature.
- You can be dressed up or down (with ice cream, whipped cream, powdered sugar, etc.) making you perfect for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner!
Café Tips for making this Easy Farmhouse Buttermilk Cake
- Be sure to use a 9-inch cake pan for this buttermilk cake. Round cake pans also come in 8-inch which would be too small and could cause a mess in the oven. For good results, use a straight-sided, fairly heavyweight cake pan. I really like these pans from OXO.
- If your 9-inch pan is shorter than this, you could use a springform pan.
- I love to add a sprinkle of flaky sea salt after this cake is baked and has cooled for 15-20 minutes. This is totally optional, but if you like salty-sweet, be sure to try this. I use Maldon Sea Salt. It's the sea salt preferred by many chefs. Maldon is a flaky sea salt meaning that it's flat and flaky rather than crystalline in structure, like other sea salts. It's a finishing salt; in other words, it's used as the finishing step rather than as a seasoning when cooking. It's more expensive than other salt, but a box will last a long time. To use Maldon, just take a pinch in your fingers and rub them together over the food. This will cause the large flakes to break apart into smaller pieces.
- Because this recipe doesn't use an electric mixer, the butter should be VERY soft. Leave it sit at room temperature for several hours or use a microwave at 10% power (for 30 to 90 seconds, depending on the power of your microwave) to soften your butter.
- No buttermilk? No problem! Just add one tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a measuring cup. Fill with milk to measure one cup. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes, then proceed with recipe.
- This buttermilk cake can be made 8-10 hours in advance and stored at room temperature.
- Have extra buttermilk after making this cake? Try out our Ridiculously Easy Buttermilk Biscuits or these Easy Buttermilk Brioche Buns. You'll find yourself buying buttermilk on a regular basis!
- If you're feeding a crowd, double the recipe and bake the cake in a 9x13-inch pan.
- Don't skip lining the pan with parchment if you want to be able to easily remove the cake from the pan. If you want to serve the cake right from the pan, you can just grease the pan and skip the parchment paper. I love these pre-cut parchment paper circles but you can also cut your own (see image below).
Everyone flips over this moist, delicious buttermilk cake and, after the first bite, they beg for the recipe. No one believes how EASY it is!
- ¼ cup butter very soft
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- ½ cup light brown sugar packed
- 2 tablespoons half and half
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup diced pecans
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9" round cake pan (with at least 2-inch tall sides) with baking spray and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
Combine the butter and brown sugar and stir until well combined (the mixture will not be fluffy at this point).
Add the egg, stirring until nice and smooth.
Stir in the buttermilk and vanilla extract until well combined.
Sprinkle the flour, baking soda and salt evenly over the top and stir until well combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake the cake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and/or the cake springs back when lightly touched in the center.
During the last 10 minutes of baking time, prepare the topping. Stir the butter and the sugar together. Add the milk, pecans, and salt. The glaze will be thick, but pourable.
After the cake has baked for 30 minutes, pour the topping over the cake and return it to the oven for another 10 minutes (for a total baking time of 40 minutes). Remove cake from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes in the pan. Sprinkle lightly with flaky sea salt, if desired and serve warm or at room temperature. Topping will firm up as the cake cools.
Cake can be served in the pan or on a serving platter or cake stand. To serve on a platter, invert cake onto a dinner-size plate then invert again so that topping is up.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour.
See Café Tips above for further instructions and tips.
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