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Vanilla Buttermilk Cake

Simple and tender vanilla buttermilk cake takes well to all sorts of frostings. It makes a perfect birthday cake!

Friday morning — I’ve got a batch of those delicious banana muffins in the oven, a hot cup of coffee, and both girls are at school at the same time for a few more hours. I’d say I hardly know what to do with myself with this boon of several empty mornings a week except of course I do (shopping, run, work a little, chores, write!). After almost a year and a half of near-constant togetherness we are now pulling apart a bit and each getting to have some time to do our own thing. So far, it’s been quite lovely at least from my perspective.

This summer I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition that is managed with medication and also – groan – possibly with diet. In in an ironic twist, I am going to try going gluten-free for a month or so this fall, just to see if it helps with some symptoms. I say “ironic” because didn’t I write a gluten-free cookbook? but I was not gluten-free myself. I think it will be pretty easy to transition; nowadays there are so many gluten-free options in the pasta, bread, and sweets aisle (though I’m trying to stay away from too many sweets too) so instead of regular spaghetti I’ll use a gluten-free option. Almond flour has been my preferred non-gluten flour of choice because I love the extra nutrient hit from the nuts, but I’m excited to experiment with some gluten-free flour blends. It’s been awhile!

But before I get into that in a more serious way, I wanted to share this beautiful cake I made with Elsie last winter. For awhile Sierra and her dad would go for a Saturday hike and we’d stay home and bake and read and drink tea. This was a very fall/winter activity and I imagine that we’ll get back to this again soon once the weather changes and fire season is over. It’s a simple cake, included in a kids baking book gifted by their cousins, titled “Baking Class” and is so, so good, made with buttermilk and butter. This is not a healthy cake, but it’s luscious, perfect for a birthday or a special dinner.

Something about the coming of fall always has made me excited to get try some new things in the kitchen, or indulge in projects such as canning homemade jam or applesauce. We’re not quite there yet, but I feel the light changing ever so gently in the afternoon, promising us October sun and crisp air. Now that I have a tiny bit of free time I can pick our apples while sipping on a coffee in a more leisurely fashion once the girls are settled at school. I may even have time to plan some new recipes or get back to food writing/writing again. It’s been a long year and a half! I don’t know what the future looks like — still — but it’s certainly got to include cake.

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake

Nicole Spiridakis
Simple and tender vanilla buttermilk cake takes well to all sorts of frostings. It makes a perfect birthday cake!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 10 servings
Calories 460 kcal


  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature/softened
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups well-shaken buttermilk
  • 3 cups frosting of choice


  • In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together using an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time; add the vanilla.
  • In another large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt. With mixer on low, add half the flour mixture to the butter and egg mixture and beat until just combined. Add the buttermilk and mix well to combine. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until just combined, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
  • Pour batter into the prepared pans, place in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, until a tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool for 15 minutes, then turn the cake out onto the rack to cool completely.
  • We used a simple buttercream frosting — 1 cup butter, at room temperature/softened, 3 ½ cups confectioners sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 3-4 tablespoons milk, and Elsie’s choice of food coloring — but this would be gorgeous with a chocolate ganache or even a maple-cream cheese frosting.


Calories: 460kcalCarbohydrates: 60gProtein: 8gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 13gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 118mgSodium: 252mgPotassium: 167mgFiber: 2gSugar: 32gVitamin A: 723IUCalcium: 137mgIron: 2mg
Did you make this recipe?Let me know in the comments how it went!


  1. I wondered what time alone might look like for you. Here’s to an easy transition to gf eating, even if only for a month.

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