Sunday, January 27, 2013

Buttermilk Spice Cake

I'm really getting in the wayback machine for this one. It's always been one of my favorite recipes from Maida Heatter when she reigned supreme as the queen of desserts. Truthfully her exacting recipes sometimes gave me a headache, but there's no denying she knew her stuff and shared a wealth of baking knowledge with a new generation of young pastry lovers. 

Buttermilk spice cake with vanilla butter glaze- just saying the name makes me happy. It's simple like a pound cake but the lemon rind, spices and brown sugar warm up the flavor and make it a special comfort on these cold, snowy days we're having. Perfect for munching while you're perusing seed catalogs like Wild Garden or Landreth. It's not a fussy cake to make or eat, the kind of treat you can eat with your hands. Your only dilemma will be do you eat the bottom first where all the raisins came to rest; or the top, with it's velvety vanilla butter coating? I alternate, starting and ending with the top.

I've made this just as many times with buttermilk as with the milk and lemon juice substitution and both versions are wonderful. On the other hand, there's something authentic and  old school about buttermilk and I feel like if we don't use it it's going to be harder and harder to find. That being said, and in the interest of full disclosure, I went with the milk, 2% actually, and lemon juice this time out.

buttermilk spice cake

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperture
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
grated rind of 1 lemon
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk (or one cup warm milk and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice)
3/4 cup raisins, plumped in 1 cup boiling water and drained

vanilla butter glaze

4 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a bundt pan. Cream the butter and sugars in a stand mixer until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and all the spices in a medium bowl and whisk to distribute the leavening and spices.  Add the lemon rind to the buttermilk.

Add the flour and buttermilk alternately to the creamed butter and sugar mixture starting and ending with the flour. Beat well after each addition and scrap the bowl and beaters as needed to make sure everything is mixed well. Lastly add the raisins and mix just to combine.

Pour into prepared bundt pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Turn the cake out of the pan and cool completely before glazing.

For the glaze, melt butter in a medium pot. (I resisted the temptation to get it too brown so I took it off the heat as soon as it came to a boil.) Whisk in the sugar, vanilla extract and milk and beat until smooth. Pour over cooled cake.  Makes 12 to 16 servings. Wrap up uneaten portion and store at room temperature for a day or in the fridge for 3 days.


Print Friendly and PDF

1 comment:

  1. If you toss the raisins with flour they won't sink ! Great trick and it does work. Your cake sounds and looks lovely. c