Whenever I ask you guys what kind of recipes you want to see on the blog, more often than not, the request is for my cake recipes. As many of you know, I ran a wedding cake business up until the end of 2019. It was a lot of fun (and a lot of hard work) and I built a super successful business, but decided it was time to take a break to be able to spend more time with my family as well as blog and teach cake decorating full-time. The cake recipes I share here are mostly ones that I used for my business, tried and true client favorites that I have made for years. This strawberry rose buttermilk cake is a recipe I have made many, many, many times and is always a favorite.
My strawberry rose buttermilk cake is one of those cakes that combines flavors in such a way that they're balanced, and light but straightforward in flavor. This cake is super fruity from the strawberries, and slightly floral from the rosewater, with a deep flavor and a bit of a tang from the super moist, and tender vanilla buttermilk cake.
About the mixing method
Let me tell you - this buttermilk cake is a KEEPER. It's the perfect foundation for most fillings and frostings, and it makes for beautiful layer cakes. This buttermilk cake is mixed using the reverse creaming, or two stage method. Reverse creaming cakes have a tighter, more delicate and soft crumb. They tend to be more compact, with less of a rise compared to creamed cakes, and have a melt-in-your-mouth texture. Reverse creaming cakes can be delicate, so they are easiest to layer, carve, stack, etc. when they are chilled. The reverse creaming method gives me exactly what I’m looking for in a white/yellow cake base. This method of creaming and my recipe is partly adapted by Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Cake Bible. In recent years, I’ve used a recipe I adapted from my dear friend, Liz over at Sugar Geek Show, from her book Artisan Cake Company's Visual Guide to Cake Decorating, which is also an adapted recipe from The Cake Bible.
Check out Sugar Geek Show's Cake Decorating Basics tutorials for beginners.
How to make the buttermilk cake
If you haven't made a cake using this method, don't be afraid of it. It's super easy if you follow the notes on the stages of batter texture along the way in the recipe. And, while we've been conditioned to "mix until just combined" or "don't over mix" so that we don't over develop the gluten which would result in a tough cake, those rules don't apply the same in this cake. In the instructions, butter is mixed into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Mixing the butter into the dry ingredients coats the flour, preventing too much gluten formation.
Then, a small amount of liquid is added, just until the dry ingredients are *just* moistened and the mixture is beaten on medium-high for two full minutes until lightened in color, and thick like soft-serve ice cream. This mixing is crucial as it helps to form the structure of your cake. The remaining wet ingredients are added in three parts. The cake batter will be a bit on the thicker side.
You will also notice that this recipe doesn't have baking soda, but uses all baking powder instead. A bit unusual considering there is an acidic ingredient - buttermilk. Baking soda neutralizes the acid in the buttermilk, and also contributes to the rise of the cake. Too much acid can prevent the cake from developing the proper structure, but also can prevent it from browning. So, why did I skip on the baking soda then? Neutralizing the buttermilk also tames the flavor. I wanted full buttermilk flavor. This cake is not too acidic without the baking soda so it browns well and rises properly.
For this recipe, a scale is also required. Scratch cakes can be tricky to make sometimes, and the baking science is very important in the making and baking of scratch cake. We need cakes to be consistent in taste and texture, and bake up with no problems - no sinking, no overflowing, no rubbery layers, etc. A scale is key in getting consistent results. I use this one from Amazon. This recipe will not work if you convert it to volume (cups) measurements.
I also do not recommend using this recipe for cupcakes. This recipe is designed to bake up somewhat flat, and is also more compact. I use a different, slightly less delicate recipe for cupcakes (it's ah-mazing) that can accompany all sorts of fillings and frostings that I'll share soon.
About the Italian meringue buttercream
For this cake, I opted to use velvety smooth Italian meringue buttercream. My how-to post for Italian meringue buttercream can be found here. The strawberry buttercream is super fruity, silky and smooth, with just a hint of rose water. To really get a super concentrated strawberry flavor, I recommend using a jam (homemade or store bought) over a puree. Purees aren't as concentrated in flavor and can be a bit watery. I've provided my strawberry reduction jam in the recipe. Really, strawberries and rose go together like peanut butter and jelly. They compliment each other really well and are amazing when paired with the buttermilk cake. However, you can omit the rosewater if you wish- this cake will still be amazing.
I decorated my strawberry rose buttermilk cake with fresh strawberries and edible dried rose petals. I love the delicate, romantic look of it.
In the pictures of the cake in this post, the cake was sliced while it was slightly chilled. Cutting a chilled cake allows for the cake to not fall apart when cutting it, but also it makes for neat and tidy slices. Serve the cake at room temperature.
For more cake and cupcake recipes, check out these recipes:
Strawberry Rose Buttermilk Cake
Quick Strawberry Jam
- 3 cups (680g) fresh or frozen strawberries
- ⅓ cup (66g) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 14 oz (397g) unbleached cake flour
- 14 oz (397g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 8 oz (226g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 large eggs
- 2 oz (57g) canola oil
- 10 oz (284g) buttermilk, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Strawberry Italian Meringue Buttercream
- 12 oz (339g) strawberry jam
- ⅛ - ¼ teaspoon rose water, to taste
- 1 batch of Italian meringue buttercream
Make the quick strawberry jam:
- Combine the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a large saucepan.
- Place the pan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the strawberries are softened.
- Using a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon, smash the strawberries to release their juices and break them up.
- Simmer the mixture for 30- 45 minutes, or until the mixture is reduced and has thickened.
- Push the hot strawberry mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Discard the leftover pulp.
- Let the mixture cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Strawberry Buttercream:
- Mix the cooled strawberry jam into the prepared Italian meringue buttercream. Add ½ cup/4oz at a time, to ensure the jam gets thoroughly mixed into the buttercream.
Make the buttermilk cake:
- Heat the oven to 350F. Prepare your cake pans. Brush the bottoms and sides of your cake pans with melted butter. Line the bottoms and sides with parchment paper.
- Combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla in medium bowl. Whisk to thoroughly combine. Pour 40z/113g of the wet ingredients into a separate mixing cup.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. On low speed, mix for 1 minute.
- With the mixer still running, add in the softened butter chunks, one or two pieces at a time. Mix until the mixture resembles cornmeal. You should be able to gather a bit in your hand, squeeze and you have a solid piece. This means the butter is evenly distributed.
- With the mixer still on low, pour in the 4oz of liquid and mix until the flour mixture is moistened.
- Turn the mixer speed to medium (4 or 6) and whip for *two full* minutes. The mixture should be whipped up, thick, and lighter in color.
- Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure everything is properly mixed.
- With the mixer speed on low, add the remaining wet ingredients in three parts, scraping down the bowl after each addition has been mixed in.
- Once all the wet ingredients have been added, give the bowl a final scrape and mix with a spatula. Evenly divide the batter among the prepared pans.
- Bake the layers for 35-45 minutes. Check the cake at 30-35 minutes to test for doneness. If a toothpick comes out clean, and the top of the cake feels springy and set when touched, take the cakes out.
- Tap the cake once, firmly against the counter to remove excess steam. If your cakes dome at all, use a clean kitchen towel to gently push the domes down. Cool the cakes for 15 minutes in the pans.
- Run a palette or butter knife around the cakes in their pans before turning them out to cool completely on cooling racks.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator a couple hours.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the strawberry jam at little at a time, rosewater and Italian buttercream.
- Be sure to mix on low and mix in a little bit of the jam at a time so that the buttercream doesn't separate.
- Torte the cake for 4 layers. Fill and frost the cake. Finish with fresh cut strawberries and edible/food safe rose bud petals.