Vintage Basics: Buttermilk White Cake
A good basic recipe can be hard to come by and yet great basics are essential for any baker to have in their repertoire because a basic recipe can let your creativity run wild. A delicious chocolate, yellow, or white cake recipe can be hard to find but I promise you that this white cake will not disappoint.
Since a white cake is, well, white, the recipe doesn’t include any egg yolks, only the whites, whipped into a furiously stiff peak. As a note from one baker to another, I was a little hesistant folding the whipped egg whites into the cake batter because the batter is rather stiff. Like me, you may be worried that the egg whites will deflate as you are folding them into the batter but fear not, if you work quickly and without hesistation and your cake should turn out just fine.
The addition of buttermilk to this cake is part of the reason that the end result is so tender. Buttermilk, since it has so much acid in it, is a natural tenderizer in baking and in cooking too. If you don’t have any buttermilk in your fridge, fear not, simply measure out a cup of milk and add one to two tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice to it. Allow the milk to curdle for about two minutes, stir, and measure out the amount of homemade buttermilk you need — simple, right?!
The reason that this cake is such a great basic is because it lends itself to being made into cupcakes, a sheet cake, or into plain old round cakes (just like mine). And it can also can tolerate any flavor of frosting or filling. I frosted this cake with a lemon buttercream, but you could easily use a chocolate, orange, plain buttercream or coconut frosting with great success. Just use your imagination!
Buttermilk White Cake (Adapted from Favorite Recipes of the North Buffalo Sportsman’s Club)
Makes 2 8-inch cake rounds
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 egg whites
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper, then grease with unsalted butter.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking soda, salt and cream of tartar to remove any lumps. In a liquid measuring cup, combine buttermilk and vanilla. With the mixture on a low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture with the buttermilk. Beat the batter until smooth.
In a clean separate mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Working swiftly, fold the stiff egg whites into the cake bake in three additions. Pour into the buttered cake pans.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans for one hour, remove from pan and allow to cool fully before frosting with the icing of your choice.