Buttermilk Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

Buttermilk Cake with Chocolate Buttercream
Recipe notes: This is the 2nd recipe I’ve tried from One Girl Cookies, and there seems to be a step missing again.  I found the measurements to be spot on, though.  The instructions were a little unclear as to how to finish making the candied zest.  I also found using 9″ cake pans made for thin layers of cake (only 1″ after leveling!), so I would suggest using 8″ cake pans for higher layers–though baking time would need to be adjusted.  The cake does have a very nice balance of flavors–the orange zest is essential–which would appeal to everyone; and the texture is a little dense but remains moist.  The recipe suggests decorating with the candied orange zest, but I chose to use little fondant flowers (I spent an evening making these flowers and I’ve been dying to use them on something!).  This would make for a pretty fabulous birthday cake.Verdict: Definitely worth the effort to make!

One Girl Cookies’ Buttermilk Cake with Chocolate Buttercream and Candied Orange Zest:

Makes one 9″ layer cake.

Candied orange zest:

narrow strips of zest from 2 oranges
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup water

Use a vegetable peeler to make strips of zest from oranges.  I am not very good at this, so I made wide strips of zest, then used a paring knife to cut them into narrow strips.  Yes, a little tedious.  Make sure there is no pith (the white stuff) attached to the zest.  Put the orange zest with enough water to cover it in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, remove from heat and pour zest through a mesh sieve.  Repeat the process 2 more times.  Combine the water and sugar in the saucepan and bring to a boil, then add the orange zest, and allow to simmer for approximately 4 minutes.  Strain the orange zest and allow to cool.  (This last step seems to be missing from the original recipe).


2-1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
grated zest of one orange
1 cup buttermilk (shaken since buttermilk can separate)
1-1/2 t. vanilla extract

– Preheat oven to 350F.  Butter (or use cooking spray) two 9″ cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper.
– Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda in a bowl.
– In another bowl, mix together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  After scraping down the sides of the bowl, mix in the eggs one at a time on low speed, then continue mixing until combined.
– Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix on low speed. Mix in the vanilla and half the buttermilk.
– Continue to mix in another third of the flour mixture and the remaining buttermilk.
– Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and fold in the remaining flour mixture by hand until fully incorporated.  (I think the cookbook suggests this step by hand to avoid over mixing, which will make the cake too dense).
– Pour the batter into the cake pans in equal portions.
– Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the cake pans halfway through.  (The cookbook suggests 34 minutes total, but it took me exactly 30 minutes).
– Allow the cakes to cool for about 20 minutes, then remove the cakes from the pans and allow to cool completely on a rack.

Chocolate buttercream:

3/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder (the cookbook suggests Dutch-processed, but using something like Scharffen Berger worked well)
4 cups powdered sugar

– To make the buttercream, cream together the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, until creamy and combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then mix in the vanilla until combined.
– Add the cocoa powder and powdered sugar and mix on low until combined well.  If the frosting is too thick, add a little bit of milk.  (I used 1 T. of milk to soften it more).


– Level one layer of the cake with a serrated knife.
– Spread a layer of buttercream on the top.  I also found that it can be easier to pipe the frosting on top, then use an offset spatula to spread the frosting out.  Chop the candied orange zest into 2 T. of small pieces.  Sprinkle the orange zest pieces on top of the frosting.
– Place the other cake layer on top and spread the remaining buttercream on top and on the sides of the cake.
– Use any remaining candied orange zest to decorate the top of the cake (I did not do this as you can tell from the pictures).

(Recipe adapted from One Girl Cookies by Dawn Casale and David Crofton)

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Eva Rosenberg

Eva Rosenberg

Welcome to Eva's Kitchen where I share my adventures in cooking. My creations may not always turn out Pinterest perfect, but I usually end up with a funny picture or an interesting meal. Thanks for stopping by!


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