Butter cake, the antithesis of the chiffon; it's damp, dense and buttery, but like a chiffon cake, my whole family love it! It's just a plain old fashioned cake, not cool enough to be retro. It gets better after a day or so, and after that thick slabs are perfect toasted with a lick of yet more, gently melting, butter. It's a really versatile cake, a great base to add other flavours; citrus, chocolate, coffee, a Christmassy spice mix, keep it plain or ice it, the combinations are endless.
It's school holidays here, and it's raining, a lot. With all that time spent inside I poached some pears, there are fewer around but the beurre bosc pears are still beautiful. They worked really well with this cake, even better with some of the cooled poaching syrup and some raspberries.
225g butter, at room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
375g plain flour, sifted
250ml buttermilk, at room temperature
seeds from 1 vanilla bean, or 1 tsp vanilla exact
• preheat oven to 160ºC
• grease and flour your cake tin; I used a deep charlotte mould, but any of the 6 cup bundt or loaf tins will work
• in a medium sized bowl cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
• lightly beat one of the eggs then add to the butter and sugar, mix to combine; repeat with remaining 3 eggs
• add the vanilla seeds (or extract) to the buttermilk, whisk to blend
• add a third of the flour to your butter/sugar/eggs, mix slowly until just combined then add half of the buttermilk, again mixing slowly; repeat with the next third of the flour and the remaining milk, fold in the final third of the flour by hand, lifting the mixture from the bottom of the bowl to catch anything your mixer has missed
• tip the batter into your cake tin, smooth the top with the back of a spoon, bake in the centre of your oven for 70 minutes, or until a skewer pressed into the centre of the cake comes out clean
• cool cake in pan for 10 minutes then turn onto a cooling rack
• the cake will keep in an airtight container for up to a week, serves 12 (at least1)
for something a little different...
stir the finely grated zest of an orange and a heaped teaspoon of ground cardamom through your flour before adding to your batter, the finished cake will be wonderfully zesty and fragrant. Go all out and candy some orange slices for a great crisp/chewy contrast. This cake was baked in the Nordic Ware small anniversary bundt pan, available from Williams-Sonoma, doesn't stick and bakes like a dream.
oven candied orange slices (thanks Martha S :))
• preheat oven to 100ºC
• line a baking tray with baking paper
• slice your orange as thinly as you can, 2mm works well; I used a mandolin, but I have a smiley scar and slightly reduced sensation in the tip of my right index finger, so totally understand if you'd prefer to use a knife...
• place your orange slices on your baking tray and liberally dust with icing sugar, bake until the peel is dry and the orange flesh is dry to touch, shiny and translucent, around 1 1/2 to 2 hours
• store in a single layer in an airtight container.
How beautiful would these look dangling from a Christmas tree, or in a wreath? It's September and I've already mentioned Christmas twice...