I've been known to unintentionally stockpile ingredients, and this cake came about because I had a whole lotta buttermilk that needed to get used. I saw this recipe in the March Bon Appetit, and I was intrigued by the combo of spices, which included none other than black pepper. My man loves black pepper on nearly everything, so I figured putting it in a cake wasn't too far off. Frankly, I was surprised by how much I liked it. While it may look like just another white cake, this bad boy packs some flavor. The spices, citrus zest, and vanilla bean all meld together into a harmonious combo, and the buttermilk yields a fluffy moist texture. Serve it warm with some jam and whipped cream, and you're in business.
Here are your ingredients. Buttermilk, sugar, flour, butter, eggs, lemon zest, and a whole mess of spices.
Grease a cake pan...
And cream some butter.
Add some sugar... And your eggs.
Next, add in your vanilla bean and lemon zest.
When your batter looks like this, you know you're in for something good.
When you can see your spices, you've got some serious flavor going on.
The original recipe calls for a pear compote, but I have a disorder called "laziness", so I topped it with some warm jam and a dollop of whipped cream. I whipped the cream myself, so I guess I'm not completely lazy.
Buttermilk Spice Cake with Jam and Whipped Cream
Adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2010
Buttermilk spice cake:
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon (scant) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground Chinese 5 spice
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 3-inch piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup jam
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped and chilled
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 10-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides (use a 9-inch if you want a thicker cake); line pan with round of parchment paper. Sift first 9 ingredients into medium bowl.
Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until smooth. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, beating to blend between additions. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and add lime peel; beat to blend. Beat in flour mixture in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk in 3 additions, scraping down bowl occasionally. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
Bake cake until beginning to brown on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Note that mine did not begin to brown on top, but the sides had started to turn golden and a toothpick in the center came out clean after about 28 minutes. Cool cake in pan on cooling rack.
DO AHEAD: Cake can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.
Cut around pan sides to loosen cake. Turn cake out onto rack; peel off parchment and turn right side up onto platter. Cut into wedges. Serve with warm jam (I microwaved mine) and dollop of whipped cream.