Buttermilk Cake

Pouring milk into bowl with flour
Jamie Grill / Getty Images
  • 35 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 25 mins
  • Yield: 1 cake (6 to 8 servings)
Ratings (31)

Buttermilk cake is light yet flavorful. It's also a snap to make. This recipe will make a single 8-by-8-inch cake, perfect for serving as-is with coffee or tea with its simple sprinkling of sugar on top. You can dress it up in a lovely way with sweet, delicate berries alongside, or frost it with vanilla or chocolate buttercream or cream cheese frosting. Guild the lily with chocolate sauce or ice cream and the like.

For a larger sheet cake or making a layer cake of two layers, you can double the recipe. You will need to adjust the baking time for a sheet cake, with 35 to 45 minutes for a doubled single-layer cake in a 7-by-10-by-2-inch pan. If you make 8-inch round layers, no baking time adjustment is needed.

What You'll Need

  • Dry Ingredients:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (fine)
  • 2/3 cup sugar (plus more for sprinkling)
  • Optional: 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, cardamom, or nutmeg
  • Wet Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract

How to Make It

  1. Preheat an oven to 400 F. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. If you want to add some spice, add that to the flour mixture (but know the cake is perfectly lovely without any spice). Set this dry mixture aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the sugar and butter together until the mixture turns much lighter in color and very fluffy. Scrape down sides of the bowl to bring the mixture together again and beat in the egg and vanilla until thoroughly combined, at least 30 seconds.
  1. Add half of the buttermilk and stir to combine. Add half the flour mixture and stir to combine. Repeat with the remaining buttermilk and flour mixtures until everything is in the bowl making a lovely smooth, if quite thick, batter.
  2. Scrape the batter into an 8-by-8-inch baking pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with a bit of sugar for a prettier crust. Bake until golden and a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
  3. Let cool on a cooling rack until the cake pulls away from the edges of the pan, 10 to 15 minutes. Cut pieces or slices and serve warm or at room temperature.

If you are out of buttermilk but really want to make this simple cake, you can make a fake but serviceable buttermilk. Add 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar in 1/2 cup of milk and letting it sit out for 10 to 15 minutes. It won't be real buttermilk, but it will have the thickness and tang needed for this cake. Alternatively, use plain, unsweetened yogurt for a yummy yogurt cake. It will be a tad heavier, but just as delicious.

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 219
Total Fat 11 g
Saturated Fat 5 g
Unsaturated Fat 4 g
Cholesterol 130 mg
Sodium 418 mg
Carbohydrates 26 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Protein 5 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)