Sometimes, we keep a container of buttermilk on hand for things like biscuits, cornbread and some other type of baking. Just recently, I had some buttermilk in the refrigerator that I needed to use and get out of the way. I looked through several recipes that would make good use of it and couldn't really decide. I got out one of my grandmother's old cookbooks and saw a cake that I thought would fit the bill and I'm sharing it with you, which is for "Buttermilk Layer Cake".
This recipe dates back to the 1950's, yet it still works well today. It makes 3 9-inch layers and you can ice it with any icing you choose. It makes a large cake, which is great if you're having company and would like to serve dessert. The cake is made much like any typical cake. You begin by creaming shortening and sugar. Eggs are added one at a time. The dry ingredients are sifted together and added alternately with buttermilk. Finally, your choice of flavoring is added. The mixture is divided into pans and into the oven they go! It calls for a surprisingly low oven temperature of only 325 degrees. I didn't question this temperature. I went ahead, baking it at that temperature and it produced a very good cake.
The original recipe didn't give a baking time so I would check the cake after 40 minutes and go from there. Since ovens vary in their baking temperatures, use 40 minutes as your guide, adjusting the time according to how your oven bakes. My oven tends to bake fast so I normally check it about 10 minutes earlier than a recipe states. When the layers are done and cooled in the pans for about ten minutes, they are turned out on cooling racks and cooled completely. Then, use your creativity and ice it according to your taste!
The original recipe calls for shortening, but if you choose to use butter, you certainly could. In fact, butter will give the cake the unique, old-fashioned flavor that we tend to associate with a homemade cake. The layers may be slightly denser than if made with shortening, but either way you make it, it'll be a good cake!
Also, if you see the slideshow I have with this recipe, you'll see I'm using a pretty old electric mixer. That's because it was my grandmother's mixer, which I inherited a few years ago! It was made in the 1940's and still runs like a champ! Also, you'll see that I don't have a photo of the completed cake. It was because the cake got devoured by some hungry colleagues before I got a chance to make the final photo, so that told me that it was a success!
As for icing the cake, sometime ago I shared two really good caramel icing recipes. Either of them would be wonderful with these layers. One of the recipes includes a chocolate variation, too. To get these recipes, just follow this link:
If you have some buttermilk on hand and it needs to be used, bake one of these cakes and see it disappear....trust me, I speak from experience!
BUTTERMILK LAYER CAKE
- 1 cup shortening or 1 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon flavoring (can use vanilla, lemon or almond extract)
Cream the butter, gradually adding the sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time. Beat completely as they are added. Sift together the dry ingredients and add alternately with the buttermilk, beating at low speed until mixture is smooth. Add the flavoring of choice. Turn into three greased and floured layer pans and bake at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes or until the layers test done. Let cool in the pans ten minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely. Ice as desired.