Monday, August 29, 2011

Recipe for Three-Berry Buttermilk Cake

Three-Berry Buttermilk Cake
I have never met an upside down cake that I didn’t like, and this one is my new favorite.

When the recipe appeared in the June issue of Bon Appetit, I rushed to make it, using the peaches and blueberries I had on hand instead of the blackberries. Round two was again peaches and blueberries.

The third time (can you tell I like this cake?), I used blackberries but delved into a stash of raspberries and blueberries in order to cover the cake sufficiently.

Really, the cake will work with just about any kind of fruit, but do use blackberries if you can get your hands on some.

I’m not a fan of raw blackberries because some are bitter in a bad way. They need sugar and heat to bring out the sweet and complex flavor. In this recipe, the weight of an orange-scented cake batter extracts the berry juices which then melt the sugar, all of it becoming slightly jammy.

This is a thick cake batter — not quite like a pound cake, but close. It slowly bakes into a soft, fine crumb while the outside develops a lovely crust.

For a cake that travels well to social occasions, look no further. I’ve taken this to three church potlucks with great success. It does not require refrigeration or special garnish, though it would take nicely to whipped cream or ice cream if such were available.

A cake that remains tasty and looks pretty to the very last piece is a keeper.

Three-Berry Buttermilk Cake
adapted from June 2011 Bon Appetit  

3/4(1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan and parchment 
2 1/3 c cake flour (sifted, then measured) plus more for pan 
2 1/2 c (10 oz) fresh blackberries or a combination of blackberries, raspberries and blueberries
1/4 c plus 1 1/3 c sugar 
1 1/2 baking powder 
3/4 t salt 
1/2 t baking soda 
3 large eggs, room temperature 
2 t vanilla extract 
1 1/2 t finely grated orange zest (optional: another 1/2 t to sprinkle over the fruit)
1 c well-shaken buttermilk 
Powdered sugar (for dusting, if desired)

Position a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter pan. Line bottom with a circle of parchment paper and butter the parchment. Dust with flour, tapping out excess. Arrange berries in a single layer in bottom of pan; sprinkle evenly with 1/4 cup sugar. (The sugar is important here. Do not even think of omitting it.) Sprinkle the 1/2 t of orange zest if you’re using it here.

Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a medium bowl; set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and remaining 1 1/3 c sugar in a large bowl at medium-high speed, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and zest. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until incorporated. Pour batter over berries in pan; smooth top.  

Bake until cake is golden brown and cake bounces back when pressed gently with fingertip, about 1 hour 25 minutes for a 9" pan and about 1 hour for a 10" pan. Let cool in pan set on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then run a thin, sharp knife around the edge of the pan to loosen. Remove pan sides. Invert cake onto rack and remove pan bottom; peel off parchment. Dust top generously with powdered sugar and let cool completely.


  1. Oh you had me at the title itself. Wish I could have a slice right now.

  2. I hope you can bake one for yourself! Just wish I could grow all those berries in my garden -- would make the cake a bit less expensive.


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