This is one of the best cakes I’ve ever made, and I don’t say that lightly. I’ve made *a lot* of cakes.
It all started yesterday when I was thinking about what to make with a surplus of strawberries from the farmers’ market. I took a poll on Twitter and everyone voted for strawberry agua fresca, which sounded great, but I realized that I didn’t have any lime, mint, or ice at home. I had some leftover buttermilk from when I made shortcakes. I impulsively decided to make strawberry buttermilk cake when I got home.
This cake is one of the easiest things to make. You mix together some butter and sugar, combine it with flour and buttermilk, and sprinkle some fresh berries on top. Make sure you put the berries near the center of the pan because they might stick to the edges otherwise.
When you’re mixing in the flour and buttermilk, alternate the two but make sure you start and end with the flour. This will keep you from overmixing your batter and it will prevent the batter from becoming goopy at the end (for lack of a better word).
If you’re not a fan of fresh strawberries (and who are you if this is true?), you can always sub in other berries such as raspberries or blackberries. The tart, sweet berries pair well with the cake, which is light, fluffy, and fragrant with just the right amount of lemon zest.
I had a slice for breakfast this morning and I literally swooned. The crumb is moist and light and the cake is not too sweet, so you can have a reasonable-sized slice and not feel like you’re going to go into a sugar coma. The berries are juicy, tart, sweet, and slightly caramelized from baking in the oven.
Another trick to baking this cake is taking it out of the oven at the right time. Stick a toothpick or a wooden skewer in the middle and make sure it only comes out with one or two crumbs. The cake will keep baking as it cools on the counter.
You’ll notice that I put most of the ingredients for this recipe in grams. I’ve been baking with a kitchen scale more the past year and I’d highly recommend doing the same. A good kitchen scale isn’t too expensive (I bought this one) and it makes a big difference when you bake. It allows you to be more precise with measurements and the resulting cake or cookies taste more professional.
Here’s a song to get you started on your strawberry buttermilk cake journey.
Strawberry Buttermilk Cake
84 grams/6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
200 grams/1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top
1 Tbsp lemon zest
2 large eggs at room temperature
209 grams/ 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
5 grams/1 tsp baking powder
1.5 grams/ 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup whole buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
10 oz fresh strawberries, halved
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch cake pan or skillet and coat it with flour. Set aside.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, sugar, and lemon zest until light and creamy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the flour and the buttermilk to the bowl with the butter mixture, alternating between the two but starting and ending with the flour. Mix in the vanilla extract.
Scrape the batter into your prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle the strawberries on top and gently press them into the batter.
Bake the cake for about an hour, checking occasionally, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean (or or two crumbs is fine). Allow the cake to cool on the counter. Leftovers can be kept for a couple days in an airtight container at room temperature. Enjoy!