Buttermilk Vanilla Birthday Cake


Birthday cakes have a job to do – usually it’s to look good, enter the room with a big WOW, be centre stage for the photos, candles and singing and for kids in most cases, they don’t care what it tastes like because they rarely eat it. But this cake is different. It comes from Queen Nigella’s “How to be a Domestic Goddess” and it withstands cutting and moulding into weird shapes,  being covered in any manner of icing as well as tasting so so good. This cake was baked Sunday (afternoon, in a rush) and was entirely gone by Tuesday – still tasting as fresh as the day it was baked. Its the magic of buttermilk.

I have covered this with bought fondant icing (I was in a rush remember?!) which is actually very easy to use and dresses to impress very quickly, but I have on other occasions made this and simply sandwiched with fresh cream and raspberry jam – it is a winner every time.


For the cake:
125g room-temperature butter
200g caster sugar
3 eggs
250g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
small pinch salt
200ml buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the vanilla buttercream:
75g room-temperature butter
170g icing sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla essence
 (Optional: I used 3 250g pack of ready-to-roll icing for this cake but had quite a bit of Chocolate and white fondant left)
  • Preheat oven to 180oC and grease and line 2 cake tins. Using an electric hand whisk, cream together the caster sugar and the butter until the mixture is fluffy and the sugar has dissolved.
sugar & butter whisked
  • Whisk in the 3 eggs, one at a time.
  • Prepare two separate bowls: one with the flour, raising agents and salt sifted together, the other with the buttermilk and vanilla extract mixed together.


  • Mix these alternately into the sugar, butter and egg mixture a few tablespoons at a time, starting with a few spoonfuls of flour mixture first.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes (maybe a few minutes longer)

cakes uncooked

  • Be careful not to open the oven until the cake has been cooking for at least 30 mins. The cake is ready when a cocktail stick pushed into the centre comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool for 10mins before turning out onto a wire rack and leaving to cool completely.

cakes cooked

  • To make the buttercream icing, whisk the butter with cleaned electric whisk blades and then add the sieved icing sugar a tablespoon at a time. (If you have an electric mixer this is where it comes into its own. If not, a food processor is also a lot less messy than doing it in an open bowl!) Once the icing sugar has been mixed in and the mixture is smooth, mix in the vanilla essence The buttercream should be spreadable but fairly solid – you want it to ‘set’.

butter icing

  • Once the cake is totally cooled, spread the top of each cake with raspberry jam.
  • Use the buttercream icing to smooth all visible surfaces of the cake.

photo 1

  • The cake, now covered in butter cream, is ready for the fondant icing. Roll out carefully, using icing sugar instead of flour as you would with pastry, and decorate as you wish. (I use damp kitchen paper to wipe away any evidence of the icing sugar once the cake is decorated.) We went for a cricket theme cake on this occasions.

finishedfinished top

candles 2


One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s